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Petition Calls For Making Net Access Inalienable Right

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the 1337th-amendment dept.

The Internet 427

CelticWhisper writes "Targeted at stopping SOPA, a petition has been started at the White House's 'We The People' page calling for a Constitutional amendment that would render internet access an inalienable right. Other countries have already adopted such classification for internet access. An excerpt from petition text reads: 'The United States Government is actively attempting to pass legislation to censor Internet. There are numerous campaigns against this Act, but we need to do more than just prevent SOPA from passing. Otherwise, future Acts of similar nature will oppress our rights.' Is calling for a Constitutional amendment to guarantee this too extreme, or is the Internet sufficiently entrenched in modern life that access to it should be guaranteed by the Constitution?"

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It already is... (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123286)

it's called Free Speech. That's not to say that the Government won't try to take it away, as they have with other rights, but there it is. The Internet isn't a thing which can be (properly) regulated, it's just a bunch of people/organizations voluntarily communicating.

Re:It already is... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123426)

I would also add the Freedom of Assembly with text chatting and video/voice conferences being the most obvious examples.

Re:It already is... (3, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123538)

Freedom of Assembly could legitimize DDoS attacks, at least if done manually with a browser. It's just a lot of people visiting a website at the same time right?

Re:It already is... (1)

Wild_dog! (98536) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123566)

hahahahah.... made me laugh.
flash-mob-site-visits in other words.

Re:It already is... (5, Funny)

kahless62003 (1372913) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123616)

Like... ahem... slashdotting?

Re:It already is... (5, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123634)

No more than freedom of assembly encourages mobs.

Re:It already is... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123494)

Freedom of speech does not necessarily extend to the methods used for speech. Freedom of speech does not give you an inalienable right to stand in public area speaking my mind into a 200dB sound system. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to call every number in the phone book at 2am. Hell, there's already significant precedent giving the government the right to revoke a citizens right to use a telephone. I'm not saying that the right to internet access shouldn't be be granted, but it is 100% not covered under existing precedent and interpretation of the first amendment.

Re:It already is... (3, Interesting)

spectro (80839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123612)

This, every time I read a petition and people organizing against SOPA or whatever other law the *IAA comes up with I just face-palm and *cough* first amendment *cough*.

There is no need to organize against this law. The day it gets signed (if ever) it will get overturned on first amendment grounds.

Congress keeps trying to wipe their asses in the constitution and the courts will keep knocking them down.

Not so fast (4, Insightful)

imamac (1083405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123302)

You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

Re:Not so fast (2, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123328)

But...Everyone has a right to download porn!

Re:Not so fast (5, Insightful)

rioki (1328185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123368)

Actually not "the internet" but unfiltered internet ACCESS is what is should become a inalienable right. Like the right to read any book I chose...

Re:Not so fast (5, Interesting)

Entrope (68843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123654)

So what happens if the government recognizes "unfiltered Internet access" as an inalienable right?

imamac's point was that recognizing it as a right doesn't get you anywhere. It is like saying food security or access to medical care is an inalienable right: Somebody has to pay to provide it, and it requires the transfer of goods or services from one person to another. That makes it different from the things that we traditionally recognize as inalienable rights.

Re:Not so fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123748)

Perhaps the only people it would affect then are folks convicted of "hacking" crimes? Part of their sentence is generally something like "no computer use for 3 years" or the like. If access to the net was made an inalienable right, these parts of their sentence would be nulled, right?

Re:Not so fast (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123744)

Actually not "the internet" but unfiltered internet ACCESS is what is should become a inalienable right. Like the right to read any book I chose...

So to continue your analogy, you're saying you have a fundamental human right to access the books on the shelf in my living room. You're saying that you can tell me to go purchase some books for you but I'm not allowed to say "No, I don't want to be involved in purchasing that material".

Hell, we don't even have telephone written into the Constitution, or emergency medical care, or access to clean water. And your primary concern is getting a point-to-point circuit for your junk mail and youtube porn added? How about this instead- fuck off.

Re:Not so fast (1, Insightful)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123342)

And who's property is the internet? Or are you meaning the pipes to access them that were paid for with tax dollars, and then the gateways given to a handful of companies that were then granted a government mandated monopoly?

Re:Not so fast (2, Insightful)

imamac (1083405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123390)

Both. I dot own an ISP. I don't own any servers. In fact, I own no part of the Internet. Where, then, does this "right" come from?

Re:Not so fast (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123534)

Both. I dot own an ISP. I don't own any servers. In fact, I own no part of the Internet. Where, then, does this "right" come from?

That's easy.

Consider this: Just because you can own water, doesn't mean the law should allow you to withhold that from everyone to get what you want. If you had all the water, we should take that water from you and nationalize it.

The right to the Internet would come from democratically elected governments (a.k.a. the people (or supposed to be)) saying there is that right.

Then, of course, the owners of the pipes and machines and whatnot could get out of the business, if supplying this inalienable right to people was somehow against their misanthropist ideals.

If that would leave the Internet too pipe- and serverless, governments should step in and provide more of those things with tax income.

Re:Not so fast (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123686)

Not so easy. Internet access isn't required to continue living. Fundamental flaw in your comparison

As for your "If that would leave the Internet too pipe- and serverless, governments should step in and provide more of those things with tax income."

Uh, fuck you. Let the gov control access to information? A non-avoidable $100/mo tax whether you need it or not? I iterate, fuck you.

Re:Not so fast (4, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123348)

You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

You can't have all the cookies you want without a tummyache either, but WTF does this have to do with the topic?

Re:Not so fast (0)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123508)

You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

You can't have all the cookies you want without a tummyache either, but WTF does this have to do with the topic?

Really? Disingenuous much? Or do you really think that granting rights to other people's property is acceptable and should be done by a constitutional amendment?

Yes, I do. As long as it's... (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123728)

...the property that my tax dollars subsidized, and the monopoly that I paid for.

Re:Not so fast (3, Interesting)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123522)

The internet is made up of other people's networks. One uses the internet through access provided, for profit, by other people. Making internet access an inalienable right would mean giving one group of people, those without internet access, a right to the property of other people, ISP owners. Also, it would require that people who have no means of access the internet (i.e. someone without a computer), the means to do so. Libraries, etc. are not acceptable because then the libraries would have to be open 24/7, otherwise the person "inalienable" right is being alienated for part of the day. Then, there is the small problem of content filtering. Libraries would be unable to prevent people from looking at hard core porn.

Are you getting the idea?

Re:Not so fast (5, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123598)

That's not how it works. Free Speech is a right, but only idiots claim that means one can take over a private conference hall to make ones self heard. The right only means, as the Constitution states, that Congress shall make no law abridging this right. Similarly, an amendment to make Internet access an inalienable right would simply prevent Congress from taking it away. It would not mean that private enterprise or individuals would be forced to provide access.

Re:Not so fast (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123706)

That is not what an "inalienable right" is. You should try looking up the meaning of things before making pronouncements.

Re:Not so fast (5, Insightful)

careysub (976506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123648)

The internet is made up of other people's networks. One uses the internet through access provided, for profit, by other people. Making internet access an inalienable right would mean giving one group of people, those without internet access, a right to the property of other people, ISP owners...

Sorry, your reductionist approach in trying to make this a "property rights trump all" issue fails. Do you realize that ISPs run wire and fiber over other people's property left and right, due to easements granted by law without paying a penny? Those people are forced to accommodate the property of a private business, denying them unlimited use of that portion of their property. The ISPs are given special legal privileges in exchange for providing a service to the public, as well as the opportunity to make money.

Re:Not so fast (2, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123388)

You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

Luckily its about inalienable ACCESS to someone elses property.

We're not talking about you having a right to own my suburban house without a valid sales contract or whatver. We're talking about you having the right to access my house, without the local PD arresting you enroute because they don't like black people in my lilly white city and DWB (driving while black) is a local municipal offense.

Re:Not so fast (4, Interesting)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123398)

The internet isn't someone else's property, the ISP's infrastructure is. Since most people need that infrastructure to access the internet, then you need cut the ISP out of the picture. You could provide a state owned ISP (scary) that's open to everyone, or we could do something more exotic like mesh networks.

Re:Not so fast (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123498)

But you also need hardware to access the Internet through the ISP. I definitely don't think that the it should be imperative on the State to provide individuals hardware so they can connect to the Internet... other than the computers down at the local library.

Re:Not so fast (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123740)

That's not how rights work. This would just mean the government couldn't restrict internet access without due process.

Re:Not so fast (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123572)

There's plenty wrong with this petition (Obama isn't the king of America, and can't amend the constitution himself), but TFA actually wants a constitutional amendment prohibiting the government from censoring the internet.

The problem is, there's so many loopholes in THAT...

Also, there is a way that internet access could be prevented from being shut off, without going towards a state ISP - it could be handled like Obamacare, where insurance companies are forced to insure everyone, instead of dropping those with certain diseases, or not accepting patients with pre-existing conditions.

(Although, I think the last mile should actually be municipality/township owned, with it connecting to a central exchange in which any ISP can provide service out to the internet.)

Re:Not so fast (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123698)

(Although, I think the last mile should actually be municipality/township owned, with it connecting to a central exchange in which any ISP can provide service out to the internet.)

Really? You want the government to own and manage the wire through which all of your internet communications go through? I'd much prefer a private company with a large enough pair to say "warrant or court order, please." every time they're asked for data.

Re:Not so fast (2)

Wild_dog! (98536) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123642)

The internet belongs to everyone.
The ISP's are more like rental agents.... of course they have hardware to conduct their business, but that doesn't connote ownership of the property.
Just like rental agents have offices, cars, phones and other stuff to conduct their business; ISP's have servers. That doesn't mean they own the internet.

Re:Not so fast (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123404)

You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

Mmm, I think most of us agree that there's a shift in the way the worth and value of intellectual property is measured. In the information economy, the value of a piece of work nowadays is not how much a copyright holder can manage to charge for it by withholding access to it, but instead by what cultural mindshare the work can amass from the population.

Re:Not so fast (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123446)

You're looking at this backwards.

You don't make an amendment saying, "The people have an inalienable right to access the internet."
You make an amendment that says, "Congress shall make no laws denying the people access to the internet."

Regulate Congress, not the industry.

(It's still a dumb idea when we don't have an inalienable right to oh, say water or power...)

Re:Not so fast (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123550)

Except this is already done. Nothing in the Constitution gives Congress the right to deny people access to the Internet, therefore they have no power to do so. What precisely does this amendment accomplish?

But bonus points for recognizing that the Constitution is about limiting the government. Take a cookie.

works for health care (2)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123482)

The "inalienable right to health care" also is an "inalienable right to someone else's property", so there is ample precedent.

(Note that I think that basic health care should actually be provided to everybody, but that's cheap. The "right to health care" in US and European politics means universal access to expensive, state-of-the-art first world treatments, which is something entirely different.)

Re:Not so fast (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123548)

You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

"Somebody else's property"?

Who owns the internet, genius?

Re:Not so fast (4, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123606)

That's true, but we're not talking about property here, we're talking about ACCESS to property, public property I might add.

What these guys are trying to do is limit our access to the internet. This is no different than your phone company only allowing you to call people that they approve. You still have to pay for your phone connection, but the phone company has no right whatsoever to tell you who you are allowed to call until you infringe upon that person's rights (i.e., harassing them). You can call whoever you want with a telephone, period.

This is really no different than the concept of the internet. The ISPs can charge us for service, but they can't tell us who we can "talk" to online. We can talk to whoever we want because we're free citizens. Just TALKING to a bunch of people on, say, a forum for breaking the encryption on a new disc-based format (09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0, for instance? [wikipedia.org] ) is not grounds to cut me off. I have every right to talk about that subject, this is a free country; up until the point that my actions actually break the law they are protected by it. End of story.

Why is it so difficult for people to understand this point? We're not trying to make the internet a right as in "they have to give it to you for free". We're trying to make internet access a right, as in you can go wherever you want on the internet without your ISP, either for their own reasons or on someone's behalf, playing content police predetermining what you have a right to access, who you have a right to talk to, etc.

Inalienable Rights worse than Unalienable Rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123636)

Learn2History.

Inalienable means you can be deprived of your property as though you are renting it to someone else.

Unalienable means your hold and violent assertions to secure your property can't be rationed or granted to another.

Oh yes you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123732)

There are many cases where businesses have to service customers who they don't like. Just see what happens when you try to exclude black people from your store.

Railroads and telephone companies are common carriers, they can't pick and choose their customers. They have to provide service to everyone, not just the select few. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carrier [wikipedia.org]

Your property may be subject to a right-of-way. That means people can travel across your property and you can't stop them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_way_(public_throughway) [wikipedia.org]

Sign it! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123304)

(Posting AC from work)

Show me a Canadian version of it and I'll sign! Imagine a world in which people would be banned from having access to a telephone. Seems pretty insane, right? Well, the internet is now in the same realm as phone access - it is a vital means of communication. Banning access to it is unacceptable. Sign it.

NOOOOOO! (5, Insightful)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123318)

No more rights!!! This is a dangerous precedent!!! We already have the right to internet access, don't you people understand???? We have the right to EVERYTHING that is not illegal. The only power the govt has is to REMOVE certain rights (which i agree with). If we run down this road of "We, the GOVERNMENT" did not "grant" the right to internet access, the whole thing falls down. Things like this scare the shit out of me. Every single law that is passed has one thing in common, it limits your rights (which, again, is a good thing, felons with guns, etc..).

Re:NOOOOOO! (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123354)

Every single law that is passed has one thing in common, it limits your rights (which, again, is a good thing, felons with guns, etc..).

Why is it good that a guy who shared a mp3 file online, and a guy who cheated on his taxes at age 20, can't go deer hunting at age 65? You make a good point, then epic fail the same exact point.

Re:NOOOOOO! (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123434)

You are correct, it was fail. I agree that non-violent crimes should not limit the ability to own firearms. I was just passionalty typing, going from the few felons that I know that I wouldn't trust with a sling shot.

Re:NOOOOOO! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123488)

The grandparent, made a decent argument, he is apparently just not familiar with how easy it is to get a non violent felony.
The two limits on the second amendment that I support are convicted violent felons and mentally adjudicated being limited from firearm ownership.

Re:NOOOOOO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123360)

what about when someone is a felon for growing a plant? our laws are insane.

Re:NOOOOOO! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123626)

You forgot that under the Patriot act everything not compulsory is illegal.

duh (3, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123352)

how do you tell your robot helicopter which truck to land on if you don't have access to the internet?

Re:duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123794)

sounds like and ideal candidate for:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_over_Avian_Carriers

though you'll probably wish to train the pidgeons to approach the helicopters from below.

Why not do the same for electricity first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123374)

Electricity is even more valuable than internet access, no?

Re:Why not do the same for electricity first? (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123544)

Congress trying to pass a law every other year to limit our access to electricity. Let me know when they start discussing the first bill, then I'll worry about it.

Re:Why not do the same for electricity first? (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123556)

Congress trying to pass a law every other year to limit our access to electricity.

Sigh- that should read: Congress isn't trying to pass a law

Yes. (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123376)

It is an inalienable right.

Consider what would be like if someone attempted to pass a law that says people should not talk with loud voices in public spaces. Or, people should not talk in groups bigger than 2. that would basically totally neutralize your right to free speech as you used it through your own, inalienable voice. it would basically alienate your right to speak, with your inalienable throat. this would totally end free speech back in ages where there wasnt technology like newspapers, tv, internet.

Or, consider a law that banned anyone from printing and publishing anything without consent from king's council. that would basically end free speech circa 1774. no pamphlet, or newspaper would be published that king didnt allow. notice, how pamphlets, newspapers had had taken over your sole, single throat as the medium free speech was conducted back at that time.

Fast forward to today. This isnt no different. internet is the medium that free speech is conducted - but actually more - its the best avenue for free speech. you restrict it, and you restrict free speech. It has taken over throat, newspapers/print medium and tv as the vehicle of free speech. Notice that i skipped the radio and tv era. that is because there has never been free speech in that era, due to the license/financial requirements they had.

internet is now our throats. cutting people off from internet, is like cutting their throats so there wont be free speech.

And So If Your Connection Is Down... (4, Insightful)

blcamp (211756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123380)

Does that mean the staff of your ISP has to be hauled into The Hague and charged with Crimes Against Humanity, for denying you of your "human rights"?

Re:And So If Your Connection Is Down... (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123410)

Does that mean the staff of your ISP has to be hauled into The Hague and charged with Crimes Against Humanity, for denying you of your "human rights"?

If they carefully and systemically removed access solely to certain minorities while providing better service exclusively to members of the 1%, then yeah, sounds good to me.

There are no non-monopoly ISPs in my area, thats they price they pay for the government enforcing a monopoly. If they wanted a free market, they should have paid the govt for one instead of paying the govt for a legally enforced non-free market.

Re:And So If Your Connection Is Down... (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123570)

So maybe the solution is to break the monopoly rather than passing more regulations to fix existing unfair regulations. Or, when these new regulations don't work, we could just do the same thing over again and pass more regulations hoping it'll work this time. And when that still doesn't work, we can always pass more.

Re:And So If Your Connection Is Down... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123670)

Or, when these new regulations don't work, we could just do the same thing over again and pass more regulations hoping it'll work this time. And when that still doesn't work, we can always pass more.

BAU Business As Usual

Has there ever been a govt not operated according to above principles?

Re:And So If Your Connection Is Down... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123720)

So maybe the solution is to break the monopoly rather than passing more regulations to fix existing unfair regulations.

You can't break the monopoly without passing more regulations, so your comment is invalid. There are real limitations of physics and economics that favor the entrenched player.

Re:And So If Your Connection Is Down... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123452)

While we're at it, how about an inalienable right to premium cable?

We are fast slipping into a free-shit society.

Re:And So If Your Connection Is Down... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123552)

Is your nearest major newspaper required to publish all of your comments because of your right to free speech? Does a game developer get dragged into court for using a profanity filter to censor things you write?

Private corporations are under no requirement to facilitate your rights using their own property, though they do have a requirement to not abridge your rights without you having first waived them. So long as other ISPs exist in your area and there's no external factor keeping you from jumping to other ones, downtime on one shouldn't be any more problematic than it is now. Of course, in areas where ISPs have a monopoly, or worse, a government-sanctioned monopoly, then I wouldn't hazard to guess what the legal ramifications may be.

And, of course, IANAL.

Petition Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123382)

The petition doesn't even seem to be clear on what it wants. The title says "[make] the Internet an inalienable right", which is totally different from the conclusion in the text, which says, "add an amendment to the Constitution that limits the power of the Government from being able to censor the Internet".

Personally, I think the second one is a good idea, but it's too vague as defined to really go anywhere.

OTOH, making the internet an inalienable right when we can't even agree on basic human needs like healthcare would be somewhat insulting. "Yeah, grandpa, Congress has decided you have no right to live, but at least you can pass the day watching YouTube."

US is slow (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123386)

Re:US is slow (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123440)

In the United States, we had the right by default. In our form of government, you can only take away people rights, you can't grant them.

Re:US is slow (3)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123574)

Correct, but the point of this is preventing Congress from ever taking them away. Something I wouldn't have thought we needed 10 years ago, but as the years go by they sure seem awfully excited to limit or prevent access.

Re:US is slow (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123542)

This is not "the right to use the internet". This would make it an "inalienable right", meaning that if one does not have the means to access the internet, the government would have to provide the means. Also, it would mean places like libraries couldn't prevent someone from looking at hard core porn or downloading viruses. In fact, it might even mean places like Kinko's would be prevented from charging for internet access.

Re:US is slow (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123650)

That's OK. Your post also means that you're a demented idiot. It's a shame there's no law banning you from the Internet.

Re:US is slow (0)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123694)

Aww, look at the little flaim-baiting troll. You didn't even bother to refute any of my post. Guess you are just too stupid to do so.

Re:US is slow (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123608)

Unfortunately EU law doesn't seem to actually mean very much. France has been going around and banning people from the internet. That's actually kind of behind what the US does.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111004/13463316198/france-continues-mass-processing-infringement-accusations-60-people-get-third-strike-notice-650000-get-first-strike.shtml [techdirt.com]

Good luck with that. (5, Informative)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123406)

By signing this petition, you are demanding the Obama Administration to add an amendment to the Constitution that limits the power of the Government from being able to censor the Internet.

Even if someone somehow got the impression that the Obama administration did not fully support the pro-copyright laws mentioned in the petition, the president cannot simply "add an amendment" to the constitution. The process by which amendments are added to the constitution is specified in Article V. Here it is so you don't have to bother looking it up:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Note that the president has no official role in the process.

Secondly: sorry folks, Obama is not your guy in this one, even if he could amend the constitution. Frankly, I'd very surprised to see anti-corporate-copyright opinion taken seriously by any presidential administration in my lifetime. You don't get to be in that position by making an enemy of Big Media.

A REALLY bad idea (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123428)

By making something like internet access an inalienable right, the government would be required to ensure every single person in the United States has not only access to an internet connection, but also a means of connection. The government would be required to buy people computers or smart phones. And, if a person lost, broke, or sold his computer, the government would be required to give him a new one because without a computer, he would not have inalienable right to internet access.

Also, the government would have to either pay for everyone to have internet access, provide some sort of subsidy for those who can't afford internet access, start it's own ISP which would end up directly competing with private companies, or nationalize all ISPs.

Then, there is the small fact that no one could be sentenced to not having internet access, regardless of the crime. Spammers, crackers, sexual predators, child molesters, child pornographers, and even generic criminals. And, being an "inalienable right", internet access would have to be available, on demand, to ever single prisoner in the United States, including email and instant messaging. Gangsters could use texts, email, and facebook to run their crews and order hits on witnesses. On-line grifters could run their scams from prison. Rapists could email and text their victims. Pedophile predators could stalk and groom new victims. And, being inalienable, the prisons would be unable to prevent them.

This is truly a case of not thinking things through. The unintended consequences and costs of this bill would greatly outweigh it's benefits.

And, these people want to make internet access an inalienable right, not food when we have people going hungry in this country? Really? Talk about fucked up priorities.

And, finally, need the internet to have free speech? First world problems.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123518)

No what they mean.

They don't mean an unalienable right TO internet access, basically they mean an unalienable right to BUY (uncensored) internet access. For example maybe we have a right to drive, as long as we pay for the car (bad example but you get what i mean)

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123784)

They don't mean an unalienable right TO internet access, basically they mean an unalienable right to BUY (uncensored) internet access. For example maybe we have a right to drive, as long as we pay for the car (bad example but you get what i mean)

Very bad example. You only have a right to drive your car on your own property, your own roads. If you want to drive outside your property, you have to prove to the government that you are capable and knowledgeable enough to drive a car safely and adhere to all traffic laws. If you can't, you are not allowed to drive. So, unless you are advocating an Internet license, I would pick a different analogy :)

Re:A REALLY bad idea (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123546)

Oh Pooh. The right to free speech doesn't make others pay for the pamphlets you print. The right of free speech also doesn't give you the right to solicit prostitutes or send out offers for illegal drugs in the mail. The right to bear arms doesn't give you the right to shoot people.

This is how internet access should be approached.

Congress shall make no law prohibiting the access of any person to the internet.

See?

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123714)

The right to free speech is not "inalienable". One's right to free speech is curbed in respect to other people's rights. An inalienable right cannot be curbed.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123590)

This is exactly what went through my mind initially too.

However, upon reading more understood that- whereas they say it is to make it an inalienable right- what they really are after is an amendment forbidding censorship.

That in itself is a problem. So the government can not take down child pron sites? Terrorists communicating attacks?

(sure, they are breaking other laws so you can arrest the perps if you find them- but not allowing censorship means they wouldn't be able to take the sites down- regardless of whether you find who set the sites up).

I think the right to free speech should apply anyway- and we've already worked out nuances with slander laws, etc, with free speech.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123602)

By making something like internet access an inalienable right, the government would be required to ensure every single person in the United States has not only access to an internet connection, but also a means of connection. The government would be required to buy people computers or smart phones. And, if a person lost, broke, or sold his computer, the government would be required to give him a new one because without a computer, he would not have inalienable right to internet access.

Almost infinitely more likely, the result would be that it would be illegal not to fund the local public library, or pass laws that only rich white middle aged people can use the library computers.

I could imagine public internet access terminals in the waiting room of a police station... I'm guessing vandalism would not be a serious issue if there's 10 heavily armed cops watching your every move.

Or something like, if you accept federal/state money to build your college computer lab, anyone off the street gets access as long as there is a computer not occupied by a student.

Another likely outcome can be seen in the example of how the federal govt gave me a M60 (yes I'm old, this is two generations obsolete of machine gun) when I was in the Army because I was the biggest weightlifter in the squad so I got the secondary duty of machinegunner (proof: ask any M60 operator what "left hand palm up every time" means). God help me, because no one else will, if I lose that weapon or intentionally disabled it. There is nothing wrong with, for example, some kind of federal vandalism charge if you smash your fedgov provided laptop.

Gangsters could use texts, email, and facebook to run their crews and order hits on witnesses.

LOL they figured out how to handle that with respect to telephones and letters decades ago. I'm not thinking merely putting it online instead of in a paper letter is going to be too mystifying.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123656)

(proof: ask any M60 operator what "left hand palm up every time" means)

It means its waaay too early in the morning for this ... right hand obviously.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123768)

You are ignoring the word "inalienable". A right that is inalienable is a right that can not be taken away, at all. Even if one smashes up one's laptop, the government would still be required to give one a new one, even as one sat in jail or prison waiting trial.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123610)

Not so fast... We have an inalienable to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but the government is not required by law to give us all the things to make those happen, just to stay our of our way to that we can obtain them..

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123638)

I think your missing the obvious thing here (as pointed out upstream). Theres no need to require the government to _provide_ access to everyone. We just need them to stop trying to pass laws that restrict it.

From above, something worded as: Congress shall make no law .

That says nothing about providing access to anyone, just limits Congress's ability to screw people over when they're not looking.

As I mentioned about no such limitations on access to electricity, the same is true for food and water. When there is a hint of Congress limiting access to one of those _then_ I (and everyone else) will worry about it. Until then its pretty much ridiculous, they have however shown great delight in writing laws about limiting the internet in the last decade, and its only a matter of time before they get one to pass.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123660)

By making something like internet access an inalienable right, the government would be required to ensure every single person in the United States has not only access to an internet connection, but also a means of connection

The US govt already DID that, by allowing surcharges that are meant to subsidize rural service. Then the US govt threw a lot of cash at the big broadband providers to subsidize rural service.

Of course, the big broadband providers just pocketed the cash, but that's a different story...

Then, there is the small fact that no one could be sentenced to not having internet access, regardless of the crime. Spammers, crackers, sexual predators, child molesters, child pornographers, and even generic criminals. And, being an "inalienable right", internet access would have to be available, on demand, to ever single prisoner in the United States, including email and instant messaging.

You're an idiot. Rights are routinely taken away from prisoners on a regular basis, including the right to vote, the right to bear arms, the right come & go as they please, etc.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123662)

By making something like internet access an inalienable right, the government would be required to ensure every single person in the United States has not only access to an internet connection, but also a means of connection.

Nope, just that the government couldn't arbitrarily take away your internet access. Life is an unalienable right, which cannot be taken without due process, but that doesn't mean that jumping off a building won't kill you.

Re:A REALLY bad idea (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123684)

Then, there is the small fact that no one could be sentenced to not having internet access, regardless of the crime. Spammers, crackers, sexual predators, child molesters, child pornographers, and even generic criminals.

Personally I think preventing these kinds of sentences would be a good thing, but a Constitutional amendment to make Internet an "inalienable right" would do no such thing. It's already well-established law that the government can infringe on people's rights when convicted of crimes: Prisoners already have most if not all of their rights restricted if not outright taken away. Additionally, when someone is let out of prison on probation or parole, they're effectively agreeing to the terms of such release (in return for being let out), so the government prohibiting the use of the Internet in that context wouldn't even be seen as an infringement of someone's rights at all.

That said, I agree this amendment is a terrible idea. It sounds more like an attempt to get "net neutrality" (otherwise known as "geeks who are perfectly fine with regulating the Internet to death if it's regulation favorable to them") embedded in the constitution than anything else.

The entire argument... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123438)

The Constitution is not primarily a delineator or guarantor of specific rights of citizens. It is, rather, a document that establishes comprehensive limitations on the power of government. The focus of the document is never on "what rights do people have," the focus is, instead, on "what are the defined and limited powers of government."

Note the first amendment. By its clear wording "Congress shall make no law....." the document makes moot the point of who shall benefit from this limitation, because the limitation is on Congress, not the people. It doesn't matter who or what is engaging in the free speech, the salient part, emphasized by the wording, is that Congress shall make no law that abridges that freedom. We don't have to spend a lot of time agonizing over the entity that is conducting the speech -- we can stop once we acknowledge that Congress isn't allowed to abridge it.

Furthermore, because "religion" and "the press" and "the people peaceably to assemble" are generally group activities, it is implicit in the amendment that Congresses limitations extend to group activities as well as individual activities.

Much, much harm has been done to our Constitution by people who say things like "There's no right to privacy in the Constitution," or "The Constitution doesn't give people the right to _____" -- as the ninth amendment makes explicit and as is implied in the language of the entire document "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

In other words, the operating principle of the Constitution is that people have ALL rights except in those limited areas where the government is specifically empowered by the Constitution to act.

The first question you should ask when you see a new law made is not "does this violate a right guaranteed in the Constitution" but "Does the Constitution anywhere empower the government to act in this matter."

Over and over again, you will find the answer is "No."

cancel? (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123444)

Censorship and mandates--maybe we get lucky and these kinds of idiotic proposals cancel each other out?

Barrack "Handjob Hussein" Obama (0)

flanders_down (2424442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123456)

"We The People" is an ingenious device to let the American subjects think that they have some effect on government's actions, when in actuality, this is yet another method for Obama to jerk you off. Change you can believe in: Say hello to the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss. Credits:
  • The 2008 Obama Campaign (Change slogan)
  • Phil Fotot (Handjob Hussein, the Jerkoff King)
  • The Who (Won't Get Fooled Again)

Re:Barrack "Handjob Hussein" Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123676)

That, or a tool to gather evidence that "the people" care about specific issues. I still remember an interview about Obama I read about where Obama agreed with the interviewer regarding a specific problem and solution, but because the lobbyists screamed louder than the people, Congress didn't care about the issue and so he had difficulty doing something about the problem. His encouragement for people to get involved might be his administrations attempt to, well, get people involved such that the only voice heard is not the lobbyists.

Cars are more necessary than internet (1)

sureshot007 (1406703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123458)

Unless you live within walking distance of your job/school, the vast majority of us need a car to get around. That's always been a 'privilege' in our society. Why should internet access be any different from that?

Re:Cars are more necessary than internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123594)

Congratulations sir, you managed to be the stereotypical American jerk without even noticing.

And why do these morons think this isn't (3, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123464)

already covered by:

"""
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
"""

And if it's "they ignore that" then why do they think some new amendment wouldn't be ignored in exactly the same way?

Interpretation of "Internet" (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123468)

This will mostly result in the supreme court ruling that "The Internet" is actually defined as

1) pdf.irs.gov (or pubs.irs.gov or whatever), army.mil, basically all federal level marketing websites.
2) maybe some mechanism to allow state and local government websites
3) some mechanism to allow "related" and "quisling" sites like the federal-reserve.com, and quisling sites like republican.com, democrat.com. Categorically exclude libertarian.com, etc.
4) Possibly religious websites, if they need the votes of the BBQ republicans to get it to pass (BBQ = biblethumpers, bigots, and quislings)
5) walled gardens like AOL exclusively permitted by donations to re-election campaigns of $1B annually or more

Everything else, including /.? Oh thats not legally "The Internet" anymore.

No, it's not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123474)

You have a right to free speech. You have a right to communicate your ideas with others. You DO NOT have a right to any particular media of communication. Freedom of the press only applies to censorship, the government cannot prohibit you from publishing something. You cannot have an inalienable right to a technology.

People are misunderstanding the idea of "inalienable" here. Inalienable means that it is an inherent right, that you get simply be being human. Think of it as a "natural" right. In any nongovernmented state (as in state of being, not country)you have the right to say what you want, to do what you want, to have property, to tell other people your beliefs. Internet connections do not apply here.

Re:No, it's not. (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123756)

You have a right to free speech. You have a right to communicate your ideas with others. You DO NOT have a right to any particular media of communication. Freedom of the press only applies to censorship, the government cannot prohibit you from publishing something. You cannot have an inalienable right to a technology.

People are misunderstanding the idea of "inalienable" here. Inalienable means that it is an inherent right, that you get simply be being human. Think of it as a "natural" right. In any nongovernmented state (as in state of being, not country)you have the right to say what you want, to do what you want, to have property, to tell other people your beliefs. Internet connections do not apply here.

Reposting this logged in.

Another petition written by an idiot... (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123486)

The petition states that its goal is to prevent the US government from censoring the Internet. That has nothing to do with the idea of making the Internet an unalienable right.

If you declare Internet access to be an unalienable right, you are inviting government intervention to provide everyone with an Internet connection. This is not great. If you want a preview of the consequences, just visit any inner-city emergency room and ask them how EMTALA is working out for them.

Meanwhile, you have done nothing at all to prevent censorship. "Look, you have an Internet connection - we are just filtering out all the bad, evil stuff for you."

Aleady in First Am, but Constitution already dead (4, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123490)

First Amendment [usconstitution.net]

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

The right to assemble applies to cyberspace, not just meatspace. Furthermore, the right to freedom of press is meaningless without the right to assemble to give the person your leaflet. Even though the document is over 200 years old, already it made first-class acknowledgement of technology: the printing press, a major technological leap from the fifteenth century. The Constitution is technology-aware. The Internet is the new press, and to prevent publication on it or to prevent receiving publications from it is unconsitutional.

Of course, this is meaningless with a Constitution that is not just routinely ignored, but at this point completely dead. Although the Constitution has been dying for the past century, the watershed moment for me came last month when a U.S. judge nullified the War Powers Act [wsj.com] and put the capacity for declaration of war completely in the Executive Branch. Worse than the actual court decision, is that no one noticed or cared.

That petition is stupid... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123554)

Let's get people food, clothing, shelter, clean water, medicines, power as their "inalienable rights" before getting something that is a convenience...

This is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123582)

It's a product you pay for from a private company. It's no different than Cable TV, phone service, electricity or water. We don't have a "right" to those - we pay for them.

I hate to be on the side of big business, but this seems obvious. You can't tell a business what they can or can't do with their product. If 5% of their users are consuming 90% of their bandwidth, they should have a right to stomp on them, kick them off, or charge them more. Anything less, and the government is acting like the Mob. I know if I started up an ISP and was told this, I'd be pissed.

Let the free market decide. If an ISP truly steps over the boundaries and restricts too much, someone else will come along.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123604)

Constitutional amendment is too extreme. There is already free speech. I don't see how net access is an "inalienable" right, just like highways, utilities, and other infrastructure. It's not constitutional to have an "inalienable" right to something someone else may be forced to pay for.

Petition Calls For Making Pet Unicorns universal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123680)

And I want a car too

There's a distinction not being made... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123790)

Just because everyone may have the right to internet, doesn't mean anyone should provide it just as no one owes me a bus fare down to "occupy whatever." We all used the telephone to communicate over long distances before and we never had an Amendment guaranteeing a right to one.

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