Whacky Weekend: Is Internet Access a Human Right?

Dave CROCKER dhc2 at dcrocker.net
Thu Jan 5 18:29:10 UTC 2012

On 1/5/2012 7:36 AM, Marshall Eubanks wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 5, 2012 at 10:22 AM, Jay Ashworth<jra at baylink.com>  wrote:
>> Vint Cerf says no: http://j.mp/wwL9Ip
> With all due respect to Vint, I think that it isn't now, but it will be.

With all due respect for the view that it will be, I'll suggest that this 
entirely misses the point of his op-ed.

His point is to distinguish means versus ends and that something as basic as a 
human right needs to be about ends, not means.

Means often change -- sometimes quickly -- but ends are typically quite stable. 
  Discussion about means needs to be in terms of the ends they serve.

 From the US perspective, speech and assembly are examples of rights.

The 'right' to telephone service is not a direct right; it's a derivative of the 
speech right, I believe. Onerous assembly laws are examples of unacceptable 
means.  The Internet is a set of means.  (Zaid's concrete example about blog 
blocking is also on point.)

Broadly, we need to be careful to distinguish between core issues (rights, 
causes, and the like) from derivative and surface issues (means, symptoms, and 
the like.  It's extremely easy to get caught up with the details of means and 
symptoms and entirely miss the underlying, strategic issues.


   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking

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