[IRP] On "right to access the Internet" versus "right tothe internet"

Lisa Horner LisaH
Wed Dec 1 11:58:10 EET 2010

Hi Mike

Yes, I see that completely.  Things have changed in terms of law/formal standards over the past few years since I first started thinking about these issues which is great... and if we can help to push up standards we should.  However, we have to be careful to clearly distinguish between fundamental human rights and legal rights being defined at a national level.  I just tend to be quite conservative in my approach with this particular issue (a) because I think that access is already included in the firmly established human right to expression and that we can get further arguing in those terms, and (b) because the "traditional" human rights community who could/should be huge allies with this always argue strongly against the creation of "new" rights (as we've already experienced from the comments we received on 1.0). 

Also, on a format/consistency point, access will be the only new right that we establish in the Charter, as we've opted for the approach of saying that everything in the Charter derives from human rights standards contained in the UDHR.  

However, I get the sense that people in the coalition generally want to see access to infrastructure/connectivity framed as a right, which is fine (as long as we can clearly explain why, and how it fits in with the approach we're taking). We've heard quite strong views from people on this issue in previous discussions, especially from Parminder and Meryem, which is great. We thought we'd revisit the issue to try and get a few more opinions on the table so we can make a decision for draft 1.1.  So if anyone has any thoughts, please do air them!

Also, I hope that those who are more concerned with stressing access to knowledge over the Internet rather than access to infrastructure feel that this is adequately covered in other articles of the Charter relating to expression, knowledge and culture.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Gurstein [mailto:gurstein at gmail.com] 
Sent: 01 December 2010 01:52
To: Lisa Horner; 'Slim Amamou'; irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
Subject: RE: [IRP] On "right to access the Internet" versus "right tothe internet"

Hi Lisa,

I'm not sure of your reasons for the below...

It should be noted that a number of countries have now in one form or
another begun to acknowledge access to the Internet as a "right" (Costa Rica
(constitution), Finland (constitution), Sweden (ministerial statement),
probably others and so on... Support through the Charter would be
"progressive" certainly in some contexts but most definitely not an outlier.


-----Original Message-----
From: irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
[mailto:irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org] On Behalf Of Lisa
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 10:45 AM
To: 'Slim Amamou'; irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
Subject: Re: [IRP] On "right to access the Internet" versus "right tothe

Hi Slim


A separate point to contribute to the discussion.... My personal opinion on
whether we should frame access as a right or not is that we shouldn't at
this stage.  I think it should be a separate article at the beginning of the
Charter called "access", but the wording shouldn't refer to it as a right.
Rather something like "all people should have access to the Internet as it
is necessary to realize a number of human rights".  That's mainly because
our goals are to apply existing standards to the Internet.  However, we've
also said that we'll be progressive and forward looking in our
interpretations, and I've been swayed by a lot of the arguments arguing for
rights language recently.  It'd be good to hear as many people's thoughts on
this as possible!

Again - welcome to the list Slim...I hope you'll continue to discuss.

All the best,

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