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

Ntege Badru badru.ntege at nftconsult.com
Thu Jan 5 15:02:52 SAST 2012


In a  way you have a point but are we not in a chicken or egg situation. 

 Access to government services was a pre-existing right.  However the
decision to remove the traditional delivery channel of these services and
force everyone to get them from the internet, I would argue was the first
infringement of those rights. 

If we take an African situation today where services are still delivered
through the traditional channel.  Imagine a decision being made that all
users of these services would need to get access to the services without
regard.  And that those without access would have to go without.   Looks
like an argument of content and the pipe and where the separating line is.  

If we think of Human rights from a global and not regional perspective, then
you cannot think of internet Access as a Human right.    It is definitely a
necessity but cannot be compared to water (not that you did). 

So I would say it could be a human right in societies where the initial
right of access to critical services was infringed in favour of technology,
but cannot be a Global human right from the UN perspective.



> -----Original Message-----
> From: africann-bounces at afrinic.net [mailto:africann-bounces at afrinic.net]
> On Behalf Of Nigel Roberts
> Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 3:04 PM
> To: vika at zadna.org.za; africann at afrinic.net
> Cc: vint at google.com
> Subject: Re: [AfrICANN-discuss] Internet Access Is Not a Human Right
> Vika:
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> access infringes that right.
> Nigel
> (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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