[IRP] [charter] right to life liberty and security of person---relevant for internet governance

Lisa Horner lisa
Mon Nov 9 14:22:57 EET 2009

Yes Ralf, the "battle" has been fought for years.  But I was responding
to discussion on the list, indicating that there still isn't consensus
on this. The same debates recur and often stop us from moving forward.
There's still confusion about the difference between human rights and
other legal rights.  

Anyway, moving the discussion on to what access as a national legal
right might mean in practice is useful.


-----Original Message-----
From: irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
[mailto:irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org] On Behalf Of
Ralf Bendrath
Sent: 04 November 2009 03:17
Subject: Re: [IRP] [charter] right to life liberty and security of
person---relevant for internet governance

Lisa Horner schrieb:

> I think that a "right to the internet" should be a national civil 
> right under national law (...)

> But access to the internet itself isn't a *human* right.  Human 
> rights focus on the human rather than the medium.  Human rights can't
> be technology specific; they are human-focused.  Under the 
> international HR framework, governments have to put in place whatever
> is necessary for us to be able to fully realise our dignity,
> humanity and human rights..

Sorry Lisa and everybody else, but this is already pretty clear.
We fought that battle around the WSIS in 2003.

> The internet is emerging as central to the realisation of rights, but
> there are also many other tools/platforms/structures that are
> appropriate

Isn't the IGF and especially this coalition about how to translate these
fundamental, technology-agnostic human rights into more specific,
internet-related rights?

> So I have no problem saying in the charter that the internet is 
> necessary for realsing nearly all of our human rights in the modern 
> age, and that governments should strive to provide internet access to
> all. But declaring a human right to the internet I don't think is 
> strategic or in line with the international HR framework.

Well, Finnland and Switzerland have already declared it a legal right to
have broadband access:

I concur with Marianne here, but with a twist:

1) Internet access should be a *defendable* fundamental right where
there are circumstances that allow for everybody to have it.

2) Internet access should be an *actionable* fundamental right where
there are circumstances that do not allow for everybody to have it yet.

(Not sure with the legalese - what I mean is that in 1) you can defend
against being cut off, whereas in 2) you can sue your government if they
don't do enough to connect you.)


1) Would make sure people don't get disconnected because of some weird

2) Would make sure that governments have a responsibility (enforceable
in court) to connect everybody - if possible.

In Adorno-Speak, this is the method of immanent critique. Meaning that
you strive for the realization of the promises laid out in the current
big narratives of any given society - in that society.

It does not address a whole range of other issues such as how to get to
fair peering agreements or last mile access for developing countries
etc., but I think it would take us a step further. Because once you are
at 1), they could not take it away from you. And 2) would make it their
obligation to get you to 1).

Best, Ralf

PS: Excuse me for jumping in *really* late.
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