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Berners-Lee: Web Access Is a 'Human Right'

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i'll-buy-that dept.

The Internet 480

jbrodkin writes "Two decades after creating the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee says humans have become so reliant on it that access to the Web should now be considered a basic right. In a speech at an MIT symposium, Berners-Lee compared access to the Web with access to water. 'Access to the Web is now a human right,' he said. 'It's possible to live without the Web. It's not possible to live without water. But if you've got water, then the difference between somebody who is connected to the Web and is part of the information society, and someone who (is not) is growing bigger and bigger.'"

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Go Tim (3, Insightful)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808200)

Meanwhile, governments are in the process of selling the internet to corporations.

A free and open internet may disappear if we don't fight for net neutrality. And we need it more now than ever.

Re:Go Tim (5, Insightful)

NotAGoodNickname (1925512) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808326)

Hate to break it to you, but the "Internet" is already owned by corporations. You didn't think the government strung all that fiber and installed all those routers did you? The internet isn't ARPANET anymore...

Re:Go Tim (4, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808464)

The infrastructure that was mostly paid for by the taxpayers. So we do own it, really.

Not even close (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808622)

The infrastructure that was mostly paid for by the taxpayers. So we do own it, really.

Sorry buddy but that is utterly false. The modern internet is run over fiber optics that was laid across the country by Quest and Level 3 and other companies. The last mile that runs to your house was wired in by a company. The government has not been a majority spender on the internet for at least a decade, probably longer... what Arpanet gave us was the concept of the internet, which private business has taken and run with.

With tax money and rights taken by government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808664)

With tax money and rights taken by government on their behalf.

If Quest want to make money selling my presence to advertisers and website owners, they'd better give me a cut for using my land for it.

Re:With tax money and rights taken by government (-1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808732)

Yep. In fact, most big business in the USA is rightfully owned by the taxpayers. That includes companies like ATT, GM, Monsanto, Goldman-Sachs, etc. They keep taking the money, but don't want to be accountable. Legal shenanigans aside, obviously we are the rightful owners of the wealth generated by tax revenue.

Re:Not even close (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808770)

" Quest and Level 3 and other companies."
and where did they get the money to do that? oh yeah, the Government. Who gives them the right to access the land? The Government.

All of them get tax dollars to run the fibre.

Re:Not even close (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808898)

And don't forget "who gave them their regional mono/duopolies?" Uh huh. The speed of corporate asshattery never ceases to amaze me. Not two minutes after I pointed out that we own the infrastructure that post got modded down.

Re:Go Tim (3, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808468)

Yes please. Go.

I mean, leave. Go away. With all due respect to many great accomplishments, this is ridiculous.

"Web access should be seen as a right, too, because anyone who lacks Web access will fall behind their more connected peers."

Anyone who lacks $1,000,000 in their bank account will fall behind their more moneyed peers. Is being rich now a right?

And what does this mean, to be a right? Free speech as right means the government doesn't have to subsidize my printing press, but if I have a printing press, the government can't tell me what to print or not print.

Does web access is a right mean the government doesn't have to subsidize my computer, but if I have a computer the government can't prevent my access?

So if I find an insufficiently secured WiFi access point, the government can't stop my access? I can't be arrest for theft of service?

I don't get it.

Re:Go Tim (0, Troll)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808636)

Yes please. Go.

I mean, leave. Go away. With all due respect to many great accomplishments, this is ridiculous.

"Web access should be seen as a right, too, because anyone who lacks Web access will fall behind their more connected peers."

Anyone who lacks $1,000,000 in their bank account will fall behind their more moneyed peers. Is being rich now a right?

And what does this mean, to be a right? Free speech as right means the government doesn't have to subsidize my printing press, but if I have a printing press, the government can't tell me what to print or not print.

Does web access is a right mean the government doesn't have to subsidize my computer, but if I have a computer the government can't prevent my access?

So if I find an insufficiently secured WiFi access point, the government can't stop my access? I can't be arrest for theft of service?

I don't get it.

You are correct in so many ways.

If you have enough money in the bank, you don't have to pay taxes.

You have the right to free speech, but don't expect the media to publish anything that does not fit with the corporate agenda. After all, they own the media, and they pay the bills.

Why should we have an open internet when we can have a society where Joe six pack can sit in front of his tube/puter and have zero access to anything but the propaganda corporations want him to watch. Just like a good monkey.

I'm so glad I'm not an American because you poor sods actually buy into this shit.

Re:Go Tim (2, Informative)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808804)

If you have enough money in the bank, you don't have to pay taxes.

You obviously aren't American (or one of the herd) if you believe that crap.

Why should we have an open internet when we can have a society where Joe six pack can sit in front of his tube/puter and have zero access to anything but the propaganda corporations want him to watch. Just like a good monkey.

Oh, right. Corporations are evil, man! Oddly, while I do not share your disdain for corporations, I do believe Joe Sixpack sits in front of his TV sucking up the propaganda. But I also believe he sucks up nearly the same propaganda while drooling in front of the Web. Access to information is great if you know what to do with it. Shouldn't you be afraid that unrestricted access to the wrong information is just as bad - if not worse - than simply drinking the corporate Kool Aid on network television?

I'm so glad I'm not an American...

I, too, am glad you are not an American.

Re:Go Tim (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808736)

Information and money are not the same thing. The developed world has universally recognized that education is a right. Information fits hand-in-hand with that.

Should wealth be a right? Well, probably, but that's not possible. Let's put that question aside until we invent replicators and infinite energy sources. Today, however, we do have the means to give everyone education and information.

Re:Go Tim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808822)

Yes please. Go.

I mean, leave. Go away. With all due respect to many great accomplishments, this is ridiculous.

"Web access should be seen as a right, too, because anyone who lacks Web access will fall behind their more connected peers."

Anyone who lacks $1,000,000 in their bank account will fall behind their more moneyed peers. Is being rich now a right?

And what does this mean, to be a right? Free speech as right means the government doesn't have to subsidize my printing press, but if I have a printing press, the government can't tell me what to print or not print.

Does web access is a right mean the government doesn't have to subsidize my computer, but if I have a computer the government can't prevent my access?

So if I find an insufficiently secured WiFi access point, the government can't stop my access? I can't be arrest for theft of service?

I don't get it.

I think he speaking in a more light version of the word "right" basically that internet access should not gouge the customer and raise its prices like what is happening in Canada.

So I think like heathcare it should be available to all and not have to pay an arm and a leg.

Re:Go Tim (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808864)

"I don't get it."
Obviously.

Means of communication always become a right, as they should. A majority of communication in the world is Dependant one the internet. Meaning, you must have access to get buy in the real world. And it's only going to get more like that.
Try to find a reasonable paying job without an email address.

" Free speech as right means the government doesn't have to subsidize my printing press, but if I have a printing press, the government can't tell me what to print or not print."
Those are too mutual exclusive things. Even if the government subsidized your printing press they cant tell you what to print.
point in fact, the best broadcast news the US has ever had was because the government gave money to broadcaster to put on a news program.

"So if I find an insufficiently secured WiFi access point, the government can't stop my access?"
Sure they can, just like they can arrest you for breaking into a newspaper printing shop.
I am assuming you mean some level of security as opposed to open.

Instead of have a new jerk reaction to dismiss someone, how about you attempt to understand what they are saying first? It's not unreasonable to suggest that something that is critical to the function of society be a right.

Re:Go Tim (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808894)

Unless you've been living in a cave, I think the point was demostrated in Egypt very well on what the difference is between having a right to access the Internet and not having a right to access the Internet is. Everyone has a right to drink water. But you still have to pay for it. But no government that I know of bans the use of drinking water. (Though it is regulated... but technically, so is speech.)

I mean, leave. Go away. With all due respect to many great accomplishments, this is ridiculous.

...

And what does this mean, to be a right? Free speech as right means the government doesn't have to subsidize my printing press, but if I have a printing press, the government can't tell me what to print or not print.

Does web access is a right mean the government doesn't have to subsidize my computer, but if I have a computer the government can't prevent my access?

So if I find an insufficiently secured WiFi access point, the government can't stop my access? I can't be arrest for theft of service?

I don't get it.

It's obvious you know exactly what TBL is saying. You answered your own question, then proceeded to mangle it to make a point, I think? Wifi hacking as a right is a straw man argument that the average person would not agree with. Just stick with the original answer and you got it, which doesn't sound ridiculous at all.

So with all do respect, if ridiculous comments are cause to leave, by saying "I can't be arrest for theft of service?", you should be hot footing it out the door yourself.

Human Right (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808210)

**AA vs. Tim Berners-Lee. Round 1 Fight!

New Zealand!
France!
USA!
UK!
Sweden!
China!

Re:Human Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808384)

Hey now, they said web access, no one's claiming P2P file sharing is a human right ;)

Re:Human Right (2)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808550)

Kano!
Liu Kang!
Raiden!
Johnny Cage!
Scorpion!
Sub-Zero!
Sonya!

Here in Finland... (1)

Lunaritian (2018246) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808220)

...it already is. Not that it really changes anything.

Right (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808226)

So not providing web access is in the same category as e.g. imprionment without trial or torture? Will we see stories about how people in Guantanamo Bay are *gasp* deprived of Facebook? This does seem to triviliase human rights just a little.

Re:Right (2, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808330)

Agreed. I'm of the mind that a right is something which requires action to deny, but exists without any intervention by others. The right to free speech, for example, exists naturally: you can say whatever you want until someone comes along and coerces you to stop.

This of course means that health care, education, and web access are NOT rights, because they require other people (doctors, teachers, ISPs) to provide services before such a "right" is accessible. I don't see how anything can be a right when the willful participation of others is a requirement.

Re:Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808578)

Those would be "inalienable" (or as you put it, "naturaly") rights. Those are not the only rights.

We have rights to, say, not be discriminated against in the marketplace. Those are rights that certainly do not exist naturally - in our natural state, people discriminate all the time.

These rights also require other people to provide services before you can be discriminated against. Now that we've codified it, what we can say with regards to discrimination laws is that IF the service is being provided at all, it must be provided without discrimination or selectivity.

The idea of a "natural" right only applies to the individual acting in a way that affects no one but that inidividual. It's just Hobbes' brutish and short lifestyle.

"Rights" that involve a society are necessarily "alienable" - they are just part of a social contract. We could eliminate discrimination laws tomorrow. But we as a society have determined that that is not the way we want to do business.

And we can decide the same about Internet service, if we so choose. Or health care, or education, or any other thing.

They may not be "inalienable", but they are still rights.

Re:Right (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808740)

I disagree. I think we have the right to discriminate and it is a natural right. If I'm not allowed to decide who I like and who I don't like and base my business dealings on that, then do I even have any power in my life? If some jackass I hate wants to buy a sandwich from me, I shouldn't have to sell it to him. The government doesn't have the right to discriminate but individuals do, too bad that right is curtailed by all kinds of terrible laws that were created for great reasons and probably needed to be created. At some point it'd be nice if I didn't have to hire people I don't want to hire in the same way I don't have to date people I don't want to date, and deal with the social consequences of it. I wonder if we'll ever get to the point where we could handle that.

Re:Right (1)

zzsmirkzz (974536) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808852)

If some jackass I hate wants to buy a sandwich from me, I shouldn't have to sell it to him.

Yes, you do have the right to discriminate (if that is even the correct word to use) on an individual basis. If you do not want to hire an individual or do business with one based on that individuals actions, attitude, etc. then that it fine. However, what you cannot (should not) do is discriminate against an entire class or group of people based solely on their membership in that class.

Re:Right (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808592)

Then you better give up your right to a fair trial. It requires a judge to render that service, a jury of your peers to take their time off from work, and lawyers.

It's no different at all from a doctor. You pay a lawyer if you can, else society will pay for one for you. Same for a doctor or the internet.

Re:Right (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808790)

Just because something is sometimes too scarce to provide for everyone, doesn't mean that they don't have a right to a share of it when it is plentiful.

Re:Right (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808880)

In which case, you don't have the right to an attorney. You don't have the right to a trial by jury. You don't have the right to be free from discrimination in employment or housing.

Hm nah. I'd rather have the rights than conform to your pedantically narrow definition of what a right is.

Re:Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808364)

Just because there are worse threats to human rights, doesn't mean this isn't one. I suppose by that yardstick you'd say torture wasn't a violation of human rights while there are people starving to death in the world, because being dead trumps being alive and in pain? In comparison the right to free speech seems trivial but it's still a right many hold dear and would give their lives to protect. Who is to say that the right to access this increasingly important societal resource isn't now, or won't soon be a human right? It's certainly worth having a dialogue and not taking the "oh, there are worse things happening in the world, let's dismiss this out of hand" approach.

No (2)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808488)

I don't think it trivializes human rights at all.

Say for instance you have a third world country led by a petty dictator who declares it illegal to discuss politics with foreigners (e.g. Libya). If such a government set up a state television network and a state internet to spread lies and propaganda, while banning it's citizens from accessing the world wide web and talking to foreigners, then yes, I would say that a human right had been violated

Basically, if you aren't economically able to provide access to the internet for your citizens, you aren't committing a great injustice or war crime or whatever. But if you could provide it, and you choose to ban it instead, then that would sound like something wrong to me.

Re:No (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808748)

Basically, if you aren't economically able to provide access to the internet for your citizens, you aren't committing a great injustice or war crime or whatever. But if you could provide it, and you choose to ban it instead, then that would sound like something wrong to me.

You're ignoring the difference between banning and not providing. You're also ignoring the difference between right and human right.

If my wife eats all the Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream and doesn't save me any, that's not right. But that doesn't mean access to ice cream is a human right.

Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808706)

Will we see stories of how people in Guantanamo Bay are "gasp" deprived of a resource to enable them to learn the laws they are charged under?

There - FIFY

It might also help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808242)

to extend our human right of "access to water" to nuclear power plants.

Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808244)

This is becoming a joke, first people try to claim health care is a right (as if I could just march in a doctor's office and demand my right to a checkup) and now this guy is trying to claim web access is a right? Does that mean he thinks the government should provide computers to all to exercise this right then?

Please people, stop. You trivialize and diminish what real human rights are when you try to expand it to include goods and services and you feel are essential but they just aren't "rights".

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (-1, Offtopic)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808300)

-1 Troll.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (0)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808356)

Clearly defining what is and is not a right is hardly trolling. Don't call someone a troll just because you don't like what they have to say.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808714)

No, he's trolling alright, it's pretty much agreed upon by all but a conservative minority of American that access to health care is a right. The US was literally the only developed nation in the world to take access health care to be anything other than a right.

With the internet, it's gotten to the point where more and more vital services are moving online. So, we've basically got a choice to make, do we continue the status quo and keep government services offline or do we recategorize the internet as a right and allow the services to move online.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (1, Offtopic)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808358)

Pity there isn't a -1 Arsehole for you buddy. You quite obviously have NO IDEA what he's talking about you lame idiot. Visit sub saharan africa some time and you'll find out what the fight for REAL human rights are all about.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808544)

I volunteered in sub-Saharan Africa, and I saw parents fighting for the right to have their children caned in school. Is that what you mean? [c2.com]

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (2, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808434)

If you only ever focus on what you consider the most fundamental rights, you will never lift the base level of human rights. We should, by now, be able to meet the rights for food and shelter and protection from harm (I know it's not an ideal world and many parts of it still do not) - there's nothing wrong with trying to improve the basic levels of other aspects of life. I already live in a country where I can walk into a doctor's office and demand a checkup. I also live in a country where the government provides internet access to all (maybe not a computer per person, but there are libraries for the poorest to still have access). Neither of these feel like some unwieldy burden, both feel like something a responsible society ought to be able to offer to its most desperate citizens.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808530)

We should, by now, be able to meet the rights for food and shelter and protection from harm

How can you have a 'right' to food, shelter and protection without enslaving others to provide those things for you? Don't those people have 'rights'?

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (1)

Simmeh (1320813) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808718)

The guy providing food has the same rights, and expects to be provided the shelter and protection. The guy who builds the state funded homes expects the other guys burden of providing food to be met. Humans work in group, to increase everyones 'rights'.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (4, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808774)

And the other 100 people sitting on their asses expect those 3 to provide for them as well..

After all it is their "Right."

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (4, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808808)

If my housing and food are provided for, I'm telling you right now.

I'll never do anything productive, as I have no need to do so.

I'm not just saying that as a big scary threat. I'm telling you -- I know myself. This is a fact. If I know that I'll be able to live in a warm house and have food on my table, without ever doing anything to earn it, I will never do anything to earn it.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (4, Insightful)

icebrain (944107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808948)

But what happens when someone says "Why should I have to work? I just want to sit at home and play guitar/whack off/go fishing/watch youtube all day"? What happens when someone says "I want all of that stuff without having to work for it?"

That's the problem with having all of this stuff just provided to everyone as entitlements/"rights". You wind up counting on people to contribute back, to carry their own weight... in short, to do the "right thing". Problem is, people don't do that. They're lazy and self-interested. If they see they can get all of the benefits without having to work, they won't work.

At that point, either the people who are still working have to work harder to provide the same goods and services with less manpower, or they say "screw it, why should I have to work harder just because that guy doesn't want to?" and quit working themselves. The cycle repeats itself until there's nobody doing any work, and nobody gets free stuff anymore.

Alternatively, you can force the lazy people to go back to work, but this presents its own problem. Forcing someone to work against his/her will sounds a lot like this thing we call "slavery", which just about anyone will agree is a Bad Thing.

So which is it? Do you let the slackers get perpetual free rides and watch as your society crumbles under the burden of millions of freeloaders? Do you stand behind everyone and crack a whip to keep them working? Or do you leave it up to able-bodied individuals to provide for themselves?

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808776)

They have responsibilities to the whole of society. But I guess if they don't like it, they have the right to leave...

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (3, Insightful)

lattyware (934246) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808480)

The question is, why do we have our rights? Some, like a right to water, etc... are basic because they are needed for survival.
Some, like freedom of speech, are there to protect our other rights.
The question is, in the modern day and age, can you truly have freedom of speech without Internet access? It's become so vital to communicate, and such a powerful tool, having access the internet is a safeguard against tyranny, just as a soapbox was before it.
Internet access protects your other rights. That is enough to mean maybe we should think of it as a right.
I'm not saying, just as he isn't, that it's as essential as water or whatever to survival, but we should aim for better than that, and do in other instances, so why not here?

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (1)

khr (708262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808912)

Some, like freedom of speech, are there to protect our other rights.

The question is, in the modern day and age, can you truly have freedom of speech without Internet access?

Sure. The freedom of speech is that we can say what we want without fear of reprisals, not that the platform for saying it will be provided. So, even without internet access we can say what we want.

Not to argue that the internet isn't a powerful platform for communicating.

Re:Lets Stop Expanding This Rights Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808730)

Even if the definition of the word "right" is being overextended, the fact of the matter is universal health care is in the best interest of all (i.e., net positive) at both the individual and societal levels---both for the public good (e.g., if my neighbor is not ill, the chance of me getting ill diminishes) and corporate good (e.g., a healthy workforce is a productive workforce). Whether or not universal health care is treated as a right does not diminish the arguments in favor of implementing UHC. Establishing universal health care as a right simply makes it easier to trump opposing arguments. However, even if political arguments for and against UHC are more or less a wash, the practical and ethical arguments tip the debate in favor of UHC.

Perhaps the same argument could be made for internet access. For decades, that's been the case for access to broadcast communications. As for providing individuals with the means of access, handing out or discounting individual devices as opposed to establishing centralized access (e.g., kiosks at government facilities like libraries), that's simply a question of implementation, limited by expense. Of course outfitting individuals is more expensive than a few centralized, shared resources, and your objection is compounded by the fact you presumably expect the device to be as expensive as one you would purchase for yourself. However, projects like the XO laptop and the continuing falling price of consumer electronics prove that such an endeavor may still be affordable.

(Not so) surprisingly, when a society decides not to spend money on destructive endeavors (e.g., military beyond national defense) or having to cleanup after corporate misbehavior enabled by a lack of regulation (e.g., Wall Street bailouts, environmental cleanups, etc.) there tends to be more money available to fund such projects.

Right to free speech. (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808930)

When the USA was founded people gathered in the town square to hear other people speak. This right was put into the Constitution of the United States, as the right of free speech.

Where is the town hall today? Well let me tell you its on the Internet. Where is the capitalism? So, your telling me the Bell system has the right to tax us for Internet access?

We as least should have the right to some part of the radio spectrum for a mess of roof top routers. This would give small Ma and Pa ISP a chance for competition. And cell phone time, no charge for local 100 Km calls. Texting, lol, how did people get away with charging for that?

"Access to X is a basic human right" (4, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808248)

fill in the X with your favorite personal privileged that you'd like other people to finance for you.

Me, I'd like fast cars, a big house, and loose women. I mean, those are all things that make me happy and happieness is a basic human right, right?

Moreover, the divide between myself and those who have the sweet cars, fast women, and kickass houses is growing bigger and bigger every year, and I think it's high time that the government stepped in and gave me the crap I'm asking for.

Re:"Access to X is a basic human right" (2)

Lunaritian (2018246) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808316)

Moreover, the divide between myself and those who have the sweet cars, fast women, and kickass houses is growing bigger and bigger every year, and I think it's high time that the government stepped in and gave me the crap I'm asking for.

The divide between you and the government is also growing bigger and bigger every year, and that's the real problem.

Privatised Culture (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808350)

Quick vehicles, large livable buildings and females covered in grease are not culture. The internet itself is so twisted into culture and way of life now that it almost is a necessity. As TVs die, non voip phone calls end, newspapers become news-websites, etc etc eventually the only source of all of this will be the "internet" as a whole. Therefore making sure it's unrestricted, readily available and easily accessible should be handed now, rather than after the politicians have made a huge damn mess of it. Be careful how you privatise your culture, it may become unaffordable eventually.

Re:"Access to X is a basic human right" (1)

thynk (653762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808362)

fill in the X with your favorite personal privileged that you'd like other people to finance for you.

Me, I'd like fast cars, a big house, and loose women. I mean, those are all things that make me happy and happieness is a basic human right, right?

Close. Pursuit of happiness is a right. I agree with your feelings on this, tho I feel saying something is a right means your access to it must be protected, not necessarily provided for you at the cost of others.

Re:"Access to X is a basic human right" (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808872)

There is no specifications on how I pursue happiness. I personally prefer to vote for politicians that will provide me more stuff at the expense of the greedy rich bastards that have taken it all from me anyway. Why should I bother with "Productive Work" and being just another tool in the machine when I can sit around eating subsidized food stamped Cheeto's and collect government checks.

Re:"Access to X is a basic human right" (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808452)

I don't think TBL needs other people to finance his web access. He invented the bloody thing, I should think he can pay for his own access.

Re:"Access to X is a basic human right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808490)

fill in the X with your favorite personal privileged that you'd like other people to finance for you.

Me, I'd like fast cars, a big house, and loose women. I mean, those are all things that make me happy and happieness is a basic human right, right?

Moreover, the divide between myself and those who have the sweet cars, fast women, and kickass houses is growing bigger and bigger every year, and I think it's high time that the government stepped in and gave me the crap I'm asking for.

The writer of TFA made a compelling argument about why he thinks the Internet is a basic human right. You didn't attempt to make an argument in favor of declaring fast cars, big homes, and loose women basic human rights. That's just one reason your post really isn't satirical.

Re:"Access to X is a basic human right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808524)

Back off man, he's a scientist!

Depends what you mean by "access" (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808564)

Access doesn't really mean anything more than having the opportunity to swing by your local library to use one of the public computers from time to time. Access does not mean having personal broadband, an iPad, a netbook, or any of the other gadgets and toys that some would like to think it means.

I do believe that basic access should be a guaranteed right -- but that does not absolve the individual from having to pay their bills, do some legwork to get to the library, or otherwise put in an effort to make use of their rights. Think "voting" -- just because you have a "right" to vote does not mean anyone else has to do diddly squat to help you get to the polling station.

Re:"Access to X is a basic human right" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808742)

Most "human rights" language is BS. It implies that we have rights as humans because we are human... created that way by god or nature... and ought to honor those rights because of the divine or pseudo-divine intent.

If humans existed as humans in such a state that NOBODY could possess or conceive of a right (stoneage man did not have internet and probably wasn't any worse off or it), then I don't see how one can argue that it is a human right.

Perhaps it ought to be a government-granted civil right, but then calling it that leads to legitimate discussion and arguments of practicality, not a pseudo-religious moral impetus.

So TV, radio, phone access are human rightst too? (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808286)

I think Berners Lee and others are assuming an importance to the web that it doesn't deserve. Sure, without it life can become harder if you do a lot of shopping and banking online , but jesus Tim , get a sense of perspective.

Re:So TV, radio, phone access are human rightst to (0)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808436)

I think Berners Lee and others are assuming an importance to the web that it doesn't deserve. Sure, without it life can become harder if you do a lot of shopping and banking online , but jesus Tim , get a sense of perspective.

Given that it's how people look for jobs, conduct their livelihood, keep in touch with people, do their banking and loads of other stuff ... you can make the argument that for a lot of us, the internet has become fundamental to how we do a lot of things.

If someone cuts me off from the internet for 6 months, my life reverts to the stone age in a lot of ways.

Now, it might seem laughable and trivial to call it a human right when people don't have really basic rights like personal liberty or religious freedom ... but, in terms of how it impacts my ability to carry out my daily life (such as my job), it's difficult to express just how entwined it has become.

So, I can see why some of these "three strikes" laws whereby you suddenly can't access the internet would be fairly devastating to someone.

Add to this the right to raw public data... (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808298)

Oh baby I like it raw (data that is).

What is a right? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808314)

Is the Internet a basic human right? Absolutely not. Even if it was, should governments give it to me? Absolutely not. A right means "You can't stop me from pursuing this", not "You have to give me this".

Re:What is a right? (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808340)

I think the main point is that you shouldn't get kicked off the net because the *IAA said so.

And there was me thinking... (3, Insightful)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808328)

... that the idea behind human rights was to prevent torture, exploitation and give everyone the right to the fair trial.

Internet access? How pathetic the human race has become.

Re:And there was me thinking... (1)

Lunaritian (2018246) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808360)

It's not pathetic until someone mentions "the right to Facebook".

Well he lost me at (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808336)

(He also said it's important for the Web not to simply become an instrument to spread unfounded rumors and conspiracy theories. One of his goals is to make the Web a system in which scientists can share data and information more effectively.)

In other words, its a right but we need people, most likely like him, who control what it used for because obviously there are too many people who don't exercise this right "correctly". So we have yet another intellectual looking down on us, out to protect us from the big bad corporations but also from ourselves. Well, doesn't that sound like every politician who comes down the pipe?

Call the web a right appeals to like thinking people, it is meaningless in a world where so many don't even have access to clean water all the time, let alone adequate food. I think a better right would be to give all people washing machines. Go google the TED video on that subject and see people who have more of a clue than this guy.

yay! here's my plan now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808346)

Since web access is a human right, I plan to stop paying my cable internet bill, which is US$65/month. I expect to still be able to access the web, since it's now a basic human right. Nobody can remove that right from me, not even Comcast! If they cut off my service, I can sue them for breach of my fundamental human rights.

Yay!

PS - is the rest of the internet also a human right, or just the web?

Not a right... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808398)

Something that requires money is not a basic human right. Natural rights do not include the rights to the fruits of other's labor. If internet access is a natural right, then those of us who work for a living will be forced to subsidize those who don't on yet another level. That is, paying for their internet connection, paying for their computer (and/or other internet connected devices), paying for their electric bill, and paying for their tech support costs when they break their computer or infect it with malware. This subsidization involves taking money from me at gunpoint (don't believe me? Try not paying your taxes, it will eventually come to this). This is theft and violates my natural rights. Natural rights, or basic human rights, cannot infringe upon the basic human rights of others... Or they are in fact not basic human rights.

Does he mean right or entitlement? (5, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808400)

A lot of people confuse the two. For instance, in the USA, we have the right to print our own newspapers, pamphlets, flyers, etc., collectively known as the freedom of the press (which obviously extends to electronic media as well). In this case, the government can't prevent you from doing it, but they also don't have to supply you with the means to produce those materials. I'm afraid more people will view the "right" to internet access as a government provided product that costs the entire society, in which case it is actually an entitlement. The bad thing about entitlements is that the government can also place restrictions on how you use them, since they're holding the purse strings...

Just another BS article (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808416)

Yet another shit day on /., where the only articles posted are about the stupid shit some idiot said. It’s pretty sad that more often than not, the most intelligent thing about the article ends up being the witty jokes in the comments. BTW, I’m surprised we don’t have something about fembots on here yet. This site would be a great way to build a profile that could be loaded onto an android later not THAT would be a successful business.

Ridiculous (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808418)

If Tim Berners-Lee wants to advocate for network neutrality, then he should do that. Masking it as a "right to web access" is downright silly, and ultimately counterproductive to honest network neutrality aims.

Of course, I suppose if your advocacy for network neutrality is simply a means for getting political control over the internet, then I guess classifying it as a "right" would help make that happen. After all, the government must ultimately control the internet in order to ensure access to all.

No... (1)

kothmac (1609535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808428)

It's not.

NO. (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808430)

basic human rights must be those that are necessary for the healthy production, growth and continued life of a human being in reasonably respectable conditions. Maybe after an overwhelming majority of all people on this planet have these rights we can consider expanding it to "access to a world-wide communication network". Until then there's an overwhelming majority of peoples in all countries and societies that simply don't *need* the internet.

Nothing new here... (1)

MrWin2kMan (918702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808486)

Access to knowledge and information (in whatever form) is already a basic human right. That's one of the things that separates us from the lower animals. It's up to the individual to assert his or her own liberty and freedom.

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808710)

Access to knowledge and information (in whatever form) is already a basic human right.

So I take it you have no problem with the rest of us on /. having access to your financial information? If this is not what you mean, please clarify.

Growing bigger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808512)

What he is really talking about is access to penis and breast enhancement supplements.

Internet access is not a right. Nevertheless... (3, Insightful)

SheridanR (2040452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808514)

Internet access isn't a human right. Nevertheless, the internet is an incredibly important tool used by all modern nations of the world. To that end, internet access should be treated as just another facet of the basic infrastructure of any modern nation. Basically, internet access ought to be treated as a postal system or the highways: it's so important to the survival of any nation, economically and militarily, that the government should regulate it and allow citizens to use it as a public system. As it is, internet access in modern America is what the railroad companies were during 19th century America: they are owned by huge, ultra competitive corporations, whose economic fights are doing more harm than good to the nation.

With all due respect (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808520)

Even here in Norway only 90% of the households have Internet. The rest for the most part don't want it. There's people living without TV, A lot of things would be very odd not to have here in a western society but I don't consider them human rights.

Some rights are guaranteed public services, but they're in no way human rights. For example all permanent residences here in Norway is able to get a landline at a fixed rate. It's a subsidized service paid for by the government and the telco is compensated for it. Same with several other public utilities, mail delivery and many other things.

I don't think you should abuse the term "human rights" too much. That is to me fundamental needs that it'd be a violation of you not to give you. Food, water, shelter, medicine, basic education and so on. If your kids can't go to primary school without paying, that's a violation. Not getting on the Internet doesn't reach it to the ankles.

That said, it's probably a good idea in order to get people more educated and be part of the rest of society. That's more of a "best effort" project though, not that kind of fundamental right.

When will these nutjobs learn? (4, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808558)

There are NO positive rights, only negative rights. You have a right not to be stolen from or murdered. You do NOT have a right to have stuff given to you, because that implies that there is a right to take that thing from someone else. Such "rights" lead straight to hell.

If you want to argue for net neutrality, fine, but arguing that someone must take on the role of Santa Claus is just asinine, and highly destructive if such mandates carry the force of law and the threat of violence from the state which follows.

Re:When will these nutjobs learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808752)

> There are NO positive rights,

Of course there are, at least in the United States - can't speak for anywhere else. You have the right to a trial by jury. That requires time and effort be taken from the jurors for your benefit. It requires the public provide a lawyer for you if you cannot afford one, taking money from them to give you this right.

Re:When will these nutjobs learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808812)

Such "rights" lead straight to hell.

Eh, no. Such rights lead to a functioning society with a healthy community. If you don't want that, then fine, by all means fuck off and live by yourself.

Re:When will these nutjobs learn? (1)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808846)

That's a logical position, but I don't think it's entirely compatible with the accepted notion of human rights.

For example, the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial. This is a "positive" right that other citizens are forced to grant.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also includes several positive rights: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Personally, I think we need to invent a new category of "reasonable expectations" that sits between "rights" and "privileges".

Re:When will these nutjobs learn? (2)

ceiling9 (1241316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808902)

A better way to word it would be to say people have the right to not have the internet taken away from them. Provided a person lives somewhere where a company can provide them access, they can pay for it, etc, then no government or other organization should be able to prevent someone from accessing it freely.

sally strothers we need you!!!! (1)

uncanny (954868) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808586)

Oh great, are we going to see celebrities on TV now begging "poor jdhdhhdhdhjdi in Ethiopia can't even afford clean internet, please donate bandwidth so he doesn't feel like a social outcast! With your help jjjuyyttfcccvbbj can start tweeting today!"

What are the modern requirements for homesteading? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808624)

How will society adapt if people begin to pull themselves off the electrical grid?

Quit purchasing food from the local grocery store in favour of hothouse lettuce and tomatoes and shrimp and algae raised in a tank?

Make things for themselves using a reprap or other fabbing machine?

Heat their home w/ geothermal and solar systems?

Power their vehicle using hydrogen extracted from a solar system?

Capture rain water in a cistern and filter it for use in the home?

More importantly how small could one make a system which would do all of the above?

William

Fine, you can have the Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808658)

I'll take the rest of the Internet, thanks.

mass starvation in N Korea (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808672)

large scale rape in the Congo/Zaire, etc
thousands of arsenic contaminated wells in Bangladesh
thousands of drug deaths and kidnappings in mexico
(next 100 omitted for clarity)
got give it to that Timlee dude, he has his prioritys in the right place
(cant resist) a country where Jersey Shore is the top rated show...and D Trump is taken seriously

Re:mass starvation in N Korea (1)

gary_7vn (1193821) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808938)

And how do you know about these things?

effin socialists (1)

wallyh010 (1736650) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808680)

effin socialists

How about we fix starvation first (1)

tehrustine (2020446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808686)

Internet is a luxury of modern, developed, and wealthy countries. There are millions of people that not only lack internet, but lack basics for survival such as clean water. And the simple truth is that just because you consider the internet a part of your pursuit of happiness, there are millions who don't care.

Re:How about we fix starvation first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808810)

People without clean water might be able to learn from the net how to get clean water.

That's like saying (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808784)

That's like saying driving is a human right because it is so prevalent in modern society. The problem is that every time you dilute what truly are basic human rights by adding human "wants" you minimize the rights that truly are basic human rights (life, food, shelter, etc.).

Rights and priorities (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808820)

Positive rights are "more fun" than negative rights, which is why I think most people gravitate to them. This is how we get arguments about how great Cuban healthcare is, while completely ignoring the fact that if you own an unlicensed cell phone in Cuba you will quite literally be facing "reeducation through hard labor" or worse. The left has almost completely abandoned negative rights except when someone does something to a protected group that is bad enough to make a liberal say "there ought to be a law..." (and by coincidence, there was, in the Constitution).

Instead of focusing on rights to this or that material thing, how about getting hot and bothered about the poor not having these rights in most of the world:

1. The right to freedom of speech.
2. The right to worship freely.
3. The right to protection from abusive searches and seizures.
4. The right to keep and bear arms for personal defense.
5. The right to a public, honest and open trial with legal defense.
6. The right to not be tortured.
7. Habeus corpus as a human right.

surprise (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808850)

Guy who (effectively) invents something believes it's essential. News at 11.

All praise due to TBL for his actual accomplishments, but seriously?

"Human Rights" are an enlightened concept of the modern age, by which some (generally) well-paid white guy in a comfortable office somewhere who has never suffered a hardship more severe than getting the wrong coffee order at Starbucks, tries to define the things that he doesn't think he could live without.

Pardon me if I don't take him seriously any longer.

Citzen's Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808866)

Internet is not a human right, that is simply retarded. Human rights are those things you cannot be allowed to deny someone at any time.

It may be characterized as as "citizen's right" - something that may be lost.

My demands (1)

slackzilly (2033012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808890)

I pay my taxes, so when will my government give me what I need for free? I want a nice place to stay, with electricity, tv and internet connection, a job that pays well, food everyday and a wife so I can reproduce. All of it should be provided for me by my government, because I pay my taxes dammit.

libraries? there you go, access as a right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808892)

I reserve judgment until a transcript of the speech shows up, not a single quote out of context

Article is wrong (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808910)

Al Gore invented the internet.

Not only stupid in politics! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35808916)

The technology he designed is terrible. The most idiotic language for representing documents. Unbelievably idiotic protocols. He should just have died so someone else could have done a better job ``inventing the obvious, maybe a year later.

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