Is Internet access a human right?

Charlie - posted on 08/21/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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Many Internet advocates, countries, and high courts contend that individuals have a fundamental right to Internet access. Countries such as Finland, Estonia, France, and Greece call Internet access a human right, and the BBC found in a March 2010 survey that 87% of internet users felt internet access should be the "fundamental right of all people".
The European Union seems to have ruled against calling it a fundamental right, though, and many other countries as well as the United Nations have refrained from calling it a right. The debate surrounds a number of questions: Is Internet access really all that fundamentally important, or are we simply exaggerating its importance having lost sight of a world without Internet? Is the Internet comparable to other things that some people call "rights", like the right to expression or the right to an education. Or, should rights be defined more narrowly to include only those things that governments cannot take-away, instead of those things that government must provide? Or, are we referring in this debate to a right to not have Internet cut-off or censored, or are we referring to a positive right of governments to provide universal Internet access?
United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right to education and the right to work, which may hinge on Internet access. And, indeed, The European Parliament has ruled that it sees internet access as 'critical for the practical exercise of a wide array of fundamental rights.'"

thoughts ?

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Jenny - posted on 08/22/2010

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I would be content if the actual access was free. We have a right to shelter too but you still have to pay rent or buy a home. So saying one has to provide the hardware is not denying the right so long as the actual access is provided. Or if you have the right to work, you still need to have credentials for the job. We have the right to an education but we still have to get to school. If you think about it the only right we don't have to "go out and get" is air and even that's getting sketchy.

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[deleted account]

It's a privilege...society is becoming too materialistic and we're quickly confusing the things we need with the things we want. We might want the internet, we don't need it. The internet is fun and you can get information quickly but we don't need it. If someone told me tomorrow that I'd have no internet, it wouldn't be a big deal- not for me anyway. I still have a phone to call with, I remember how to write a letter and I love browsing the stacks at my library. I don't trust a lot of the information online anyway and tend to back it up with a little old fashioned research. If I'm that desperate for the internet I'd go to my local library.

Sharon, that sucks that your library closes it 5pm. Isn't it open on weekends?

[deleted account]

What its not free..oops must be the neighbours wireless broadband signal my computer is picking up lmao

Stifler's - posted on 08/21/2010

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If it's a right the government would have to fork out so everyone can have a computer and internet access. Then I'd have to pay more tax. It's a privilege. If I had a real job I wouldn't need internet access at all. I only bought a computer because you have to use the internet to enroll at uni.

Charlie - posted on 08/21/2010

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Yesterday when i posted this i wholey believed internet to be a privilege like pay TV and mobile phones but after reading some of the responses im a little on the fence about this .

Some of you say its a privilege in most countries where it is available freely and yet say it should be a right for countries under censorship such as china and north Korea if this is true should it not be a right world wide one that we happen to enjoy freely ?

I think one point that i failed to think about yesterday is the ability to access information we would never have previously been able to view plays a huge part in the world wide community becoming an informed society , has the world benefited far beyond internet being just a privilege?

Jodi - posted on 08/21/2010

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Absolutely a privilege. We do have a computer specifically for the kids at home and it has wireless connection to our home internet, along with my laptop and my husband's laptop, but I consider that a privilege for them. For me, the internet is absolutely a necessity because I have an internet store, that is my income, I couldn't earn my income without my internet. But then, I wouldn't have chosen to operate an internet business if I didn't have internet access.

However, my son DOES have access to the internet at the library in his school, and that library is open ever lunch time and until 5pm every weekday evening, so basically, students who need internet have access there for free. Using the need for research for school to claim it as a right doesn't cut it. If schools expect kids to do this, they are obligated to ensure those students have free access at school as far as I am concerned.

Tara - posted on 08/21/2010

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Nope it's not a fundamental right in my opinion any more than being able to have a telephone is a fundamental right. We are forgetting that a large part of the worlds population still live without telephones, electricity and running water. I think fundamental rights to education, healthy food, clean drinking water, right to political expression, right of free speech, right to marry/divorce, right to have children, right to freedom of religion, but right to the internet? no.
Some people I know think it should be covered by social services/welfare as a living expense because it is often needed for job searching etc. I argue that the internet is available at all libraries in Ontario for free. As well libraries have these great things called books. :)

I do however think that having access to the internet should be a fundamental right as in the situation in North Korea. People should have the freedom to access information published by other countries.
Tara

[deleted account]

In your own home and that you pay for? A priviledge.

In a way I would consider it a 'right' since all you need is a library card and you can get internet access at the library. If you abused that 'right' IN the library though.. they could ban you. So, yeah, I guess it is just a priviledge. An easily attainable priviledge though. ;)

Jennifer - posted on 08/21/2010

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i'm a little on the fence on whether to call it a privileged or a right. for the most of the industrialized world i say its a privilege, but what about the people in North Korea where the internet is illegal, and you can be imprisoned for having a cell phone?

Lyndsay - posted on 08/21/2010

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LOL, this is hilarious! I would consider a "right" to be something that we need in order to survive and prosper as a race. Sure, its convenient, it's fun, and you may be able to run a prosperous business.... but go back to the early 90s and people were surviving and prospering just fine without internet access.

However, I do think that as long as they're using it so widely in school systems, efforts should be made to make sure that everybody has access to it. I just really don't think it's fair to give a group of grade 5 kids an internet research project, when some of those kids have parents who can't afford the internet. They may be able to use it at school, but those kids are at a huge disadvantage to the others who can do their work at home.

Jenny - posted on 08/21/2010

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I would call it a right but it falls under the right to education. The internet allows us to access unbiased information and first hand accounts of world events. Aside from books, which are not exactly current to what's happening, I can't think where else one could access that. The news doesn't cut it as it's corporate and not society interests. I believe access to the internet is essential to our future freedom which is why this net nuetrality things is bugging me so much.

If you look at cases like the recent riots in Iran or the attack on the humanitarian ship by Israel you can see just how much the internet has helped in getting that out to the world. There are so many atrocities that would still behind closed doors if it wasn't for the freedom of exchanging information that the internet provides. Yes, I believe having access to that should be a human right.

Amie - posted on 08/21/2010

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As for staying in the loop with their friends, the teenagers I know all have cell phones strapped to them. Few of them use social networking sites to keep in touch, they use their cell phones to text or call each other. (mostly text lol)

Amie - posted on 08/21/2010

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The internet is still a privilege.

Unless controls are going to be put on it to ensure people don't abuse it. Allow educational, research, news, etc. sites.

I pay for my internet for these things but also the convenience of it. I can go elsewhere and have. I grew up with the internet but instead of waiting at home (sharing with one of my siblings) I'd stay after school, I'd go to the library, there are other avenues and it is possible, even for busy families.

Even with that being said though, we have 3 computers in our home with internet access. It's a convenience tool and we use it as such because we can afford it.

Sharon - posted on 08/21/2010

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I would say its currently a priviledge but like electricity and running water - its quickly becoming a right.

You COULD live without the internet today. But for our kids? How far behind will they be in gathering information and staying in the loop with their social peers if they didn't have it?

Even the poorest families out here have received free computers and have free dial up access. The computers look like aged dinosaurs and run like an old fat man with gout but eventually information pages load so they can read the news or encyclopedia pages.

Parents today don't have the time to take their kids to the public library anymore. I never did like the library. The best stuff was always checked out or in use.

I've told my kids that if any of their friends need access to the internet, they are more than welcome to come here and use one of the computers. A couple have taken him up that but generally I find them laughing at crap on youtube.

Iris - posted on 08/21/2010

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Personally I feel it is a privilege.

But that being said. My older daughter is in 6 grade and for the last few years she has had multiple homework where she has to research links on the internet and kidbiz 2000/teenbiz 3000 etc. So if we didn't have the internet am I suppose to take her to the library, sign up and wait in line every other day for her to do her research? We got others activities going on, gymnastics and soccer practices to attend to. So if we didn't have the internet at home because of financial problems it could get really overwhelming. Therefore, I can see the point they are making about it being human rights...

[deleted account]

The internet is a great tool but it IS NOT a right, I agree with what Amie said it is a privilege. IMO a right is something that is necessary for survival (food, water, air, shelter etc) we can and have survived without internet use (it just makes life easier sometimes).

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 08/21/2010

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The children who have access to the Internet don’t know what its like without it…I barely know what its like with out it, and not so much that I have had 100% access to it growing up, but because it came about when I was in 6th or 7th grade…
I wonder how the world would function without the internet for 48hr………..

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 08/21/2010

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Well I to think it is a privilege, but I also recognize that kids growing up ONLY know the internet…

Amie - posted on 08/21/2010

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What? The internet is not a right, it's a privilege. For those who can afford it! It's like cable/satellite t.v. with all the news networks, discovery channels, history channel, etc. That's not a right but education can be garnered from it if used properly.
It's nice to have the newspaper at my fingertips but I can go and read it if I don't have my internet.
It's great to be able to look up travel information but I can go to a travel agent to get information if I don't have my internet.
History is fascinating and I love learning about it, I also know where the library is if I don't have my internet.

I think what's being confused here is the right to freedom. Countries I've heard of that censor the Internet also censor other avenues that their people have access to.

I don't see why a convenience tool should be something the government should pay for and provide. They do not pay for and provide my cable stations, I pay for that. Just as I pay for my internet.

I think if more people weren't so lazy they'd see the internet is not a necessity. It is a convenience tool, we can (and have for years upon years) live and function without it.

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