Whacky Weekend: Is Internet Access a Human Right?

Leo Bicknell bicknell at ufp.org
Thu Jan 5 17:00:53 UTC 2012

In a message written on Thu, Jan 05, 2012 at 11:48:06AM -0500, Dave Israel wrote:
> As an aside, your example is flawed, because judicial punishment does 
> involve a loss, or at least a curtailment, of what many people consider 
> to be basic rights.

In a message written on Thu, Jan 05, 2012 at 11:52:11AM -0500, Valdis.Kletnieks at vt.edu wrote:
> Convicted felons surrender a number of rights: freedom (jail terms), the
> right to vote, etc.  And nobody seems to consider that concept a "violation"
> (though it *is* of course up for debate exactly what rights it's OK to remove
> from a felon, and for how long).

You both make the same, very interesting point.  I want to point
folks back to the Wikipedia page:


Look at some the substantive rights:

  - Right to life.
  - Freeom from torture.
  - Freedom from slavery.
  - Right to a fair trial.
  - Freedom of speach.
  - Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

For the most part we don't let judical punishment infringe on those
rights.  (Yes, there are exceptions, and yes, it depends a lot on
the location in question.  For instance the death peanlty infringes
on the first substantive right.)

However, for an ordinary criminal (Kevin Mitnick, in my example)
we generally require the courts to uphold all of the substantive
rights in most civilized societies.

_Human_ rights is a very specific subset of a continium of rights.
Note that the "right to vote" is not in the substantive list above,
and is taken away by judical process in many societies.  Not all rights
are human rights.

Should you have a right to internet access, just like a right to vote?
Perhaps.  Are either one the specific class of _human rights_, no.

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at ufp.org - CCIE 3440
        PGP keys at http://www.ufp.org/~bicknell/
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