[AfrICANN-discuss] Internet Access Is Not a Human Right

Nigel Roberts nigel at channelisles.net
Thu Jan 5 14:04:15 SAST 2012


Then I need to write a reasoned rebuttal, because Vint's wrong.

But in advance of a detailed essay, here's a few thoughts.

Perhaps Vint's not exactly, WRONG, but instead perhaps overinterpreting 
the claim that

'Internet Access is a human right'.

If you look at when I first gained access to the proto-Internet, in 
1978, Internet access was clearly neither a human right nor even existed 
as far as the vast majority.

But if you look at the situation in some countries like the USA and the 
UK  today, in 2012, a LACK of Internet access clearly INFRINGES basic 
human rights in many aspects.

My mother, who is 77, and beginning to suffer some of the trials of age, 
cannot use the Internet.

According she is dispossessed in some real ways when dealing with the 
governmental authorities.

She is discriminated and charged more for services by private companies 
who do not take reasonable accomodations for the disabled in their 
service offerings.

But she can ask me to file her tax return, or book her flights for her.
Now imagine communities who cannot for reasons of geography or education 
get access the internet either with reasonable speed (dialup is unusable 
today) or at all. We have a new poor, the information-poor.

Is water a human right?

That's a question is a burning issue in many parts of Africa. According 
to Kofi Annan it is.  See http://www.righttowater.info/

But in the strict interpretation of say the Universal Declaration of 
Human Rights, or the European Convention, the fundamental right is the 
not a 'right to water'. First of all, is the right to life itself, and 
then other rights such as the right to found a family, and  right to 
private and family life. Clean drinking water is a necessity predicate.

It seems to me that Internet access is analogous.

And it appears that the most relevant human right is the right to free 
expression (Art. 19 of the Universal Declaration, Art 10. of the 
European Convention).

There is no doubt in my mind that lack of functioning and efficient 
internet access infringes that right.


(PS: Vika's right. It's never too late. I did it in 2008 at age 50!)

On 01/05/2012 11:29 AM, Vika Mpisane wrote:
> Thanks, AR! This is quite a persuasive argument by Vint Cerf, and I'm
> convinced he's right. He should consider becoming a human rights lawyer as
> well...it's never too late.

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