Internet Access, Human Rights (and Search Engines)

Cory Doctorow suggests that internet access will soon be considered a human right,

Homeless people and the Internet – Boing Boing: Here's a prediction: in five years, a UN convention will enshrine network access as a human right (preemptive strike against naysayers: “Human rights” aren't only water, food and shelter, they include such “nonessentials” as free speech, education, and privacy). In ten years, we won't understand how anyone thought it wasn't a human right.

Personally, I think it won't happen nearly that soon — we still need clean water world-wide, but it would be nice to imagine a world where we think we can't afford not make internet access a basic right.

I'm pretty sure Bruce Sterling imagined something like this in 'Islands in the Net'; I know that so many science fiction authors have characters from rich places describing their idea of abject poverty as being unable to afford 'net access for it be hovering between cliche and trope. Although in my imagined future, basic access to the cloud in rich places will be free; in nice places it will be plain free, in less-nice places you'll get ads in your head.

Incidentally, I had a fifteen-minute mental blackout about the author/title for 'Islands in the Net' — although I could remember the story. (Norman Spinrad? Nope. Stirling Robinson? Nope.) This is the one sort of search I make from time to time where Google is basically useless: I know the plot of a short story, or a book, but can't recall the title, the name of the main character, or the author. Amazon doesn't help either.

I could bleg about it when it happens, but that's not usually my style. (Oh heck: anyone recall the old pulpy short story about the guy who invents a ray gun you can make in your basement from common parts that can cut the world like a tomato, prevents the government from suppressing it, and justifies it by saying that now we'll have to be nice to each other? Who wrote that? What was it called? Paging the Nielsen Haydens.)

I'm like that with case names sometimes too, but legal facts tend to be sufficiently stylized that I can usually find them, or references to them, on Westlaw pretty quickly.

5 thoughts on “Internet Access, Human Rights (and Search Engines)

  1. There’s already been some movement towards this in Europe, for example in this recent set of “Human Rights Guidelines for Internet Service Providers” from the Council of Europe: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/media/Doc/H-Inf(2008)009_en.pdf . Paragraph 19 begins:

    “Cutting access to individual customer accounts constitutes a restriction on your customer¬ís rights to access the benefits from the information society and to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and information.”

    Personally, I think these guidelines mean well but they need more work…

    Richard

  2. It’s an easy prediction, because it’s “communications” repackaged to play to the audience’s net-exceptionism beliefs.

    Telephones were very important in past decades, and cell phones now, but “telephones (cell phones) as a basic human right” doesn’t have the same appeal.

  3. Internet should be free and not “contolled” in the way they try to do at the moment. people how wants to find “shit” will do that also in the future but normal people get focused on :-(

  4. I don’t know about a ray gun, but Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” gets at the same essential idea.

  5. Yes, Its all about talking nonessentials.
    Many lives are disappeared day by day by many causes like war, disease etc.
    who care about those things?
    very few.

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