Whacky Weekend: Is Internet Access a Human Right?

Nathan Eisenberg nathan at atlasnetworks.us
Thu Jan 5 18:09:47 UTC 2012

> > I think the idea that food, shelter etc. are human rights is absurd.
> > Doesn't that imply that someone must provide those things for me?
> What
> > if they don't want to? Does that mean they are forced to? Which would
> > be a violation of their human rights.
> There are those who think that it's a government's responsibility to
> make sure that people don't die from starvation or lack of access to
> medical care.
> Then there are those who think it's OK to let people die in the gutter.

And as with most things - the 'truth' is probably somewhere between the extremes.

Internet access, as a vehicle for free speech, is at least an important civil right.  I wouldn't immediately discard the notion that, as a subset of free speech, it is a human right.  Internet access, by way of cell phones, has increasingly enabled repressed peoples to expose their suffering to the outside world.  One doesn't have to look any further than the protests in Iran after the reelection of Ahmadinejad to see that.  When the reporters and cameras have been exiled, and all that remains is the general public armed with their cellphones against the military police armed with rifles, freedom of speech and internet access become the very same thing.

Certainly, to an oppressive dictator, internet access and free speech are the very same right.  In a modern world, to curtail one is to curtail the other.


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