[IRP] Outcomes of call on right to access/right to the Internet.

shaila mistry shailam
Wed Dec 8 22:50:45 EET 2010

Hi everyone
I guess we are all wrestling with the framing of this and trying to produce an 
outcome that works for the Charter and ourselves and,  most importantly the 
international community, whose support we are seeking. Basically we want this to 
fly with civil society, private sector and governments and ourselves.  It was 
very useful hearing the different perspectives yesterday. However I am not clear 
why this has become something of a tangle.

As to the "right to the internet" versus the "right to access to internet"
In response to some prior discussants , I would say that the difference is the 
implicit message that the charter acknowledges that the right to internet is 
implicit. The Charter exists because of this right and we are upholding it. Now 
do we push this any further into a heralding statement at the top of the rights 
? I am not so sure, because like others I am concerned that we may lose the 
support of the very entities that we seek. 

This right if  taken out of context and we say aloud " everyone has a right to 
the internet" may become less missive when compared with other more important 
rights of freedom, food and shelter and education.  We as the community who have 
come together as "internet community" understand the differences between these 
two rights. But I suspect that when we send this out to the real world at large 
we will have, and we should have,  folks from all walks of like looking at it 
and ask the question " Is right to internet really a right" or " who is 
responsible for providing this right" .I am not sure that we will like the 
responses that we will hear.  We don't want to lose the support of entities who 
might otherwise see our charter as a pioneering effort.

On the other hand, If we start with the "access " element as the pivotal 
statement then we have better chance of support, if only because everyone who 
has access internet will see this as valid and those that don't, will naturally 
support it. Using the word access, helps us define all the variables that were 
already discussed such as special groups, and  populations that do not have 
access because of affordability or "politics' and also covers parts of the world 
that have restrictions. even covers the technical exclusions and monopoly 
issues. We can frame the wording is such a way that we don't lose support and or 
create undue burden of responsibility.

Notwithstanding our extensive discussions, this charter is about increasing the 
rights of people.To this purpose we need the buy-in of entities so that we can 
advance human rights. When we send out the 1.1 versions its practicability, 
implementation and  application of the charter will become the deciding factors 
for most individuals and entities whose support we are seeking.

Shaila Rao Misty

 Life is too short ....challenge the rules
Forgive quickly ... love truly ...and tenderly
Laugh constantly.....and never stop dreaming! 

From: Lisa Horner <LisaH at global-partners.co.uk>
To: Michael Gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com>; parminder <parminder at itforchange.net>
Cc: "irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org" 
<irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org>
Sent: Wed, December 8, 2010 9:15:46 AM
Subject: Re: [IRP] Outcomes of call on right to access/right to the Internet.

Thanks for getting back, Parminder and Mike.  I agree with Parminder?s 
suggestion for changing the language of 1.1.  I also agree with the point about 
mobiles as we discussed before but didn?t work out how to do.  We could add it 
in here (the draft was supposed to be as technology neutral as possible, but 
seeing as we?re talking about the Internet, it?s already not) ? thanks for 
offering to have a stab Mike. Or we could have a bit more of a think about how 
to go about it properly throughout the doc once we?ve released 1.1 and have more 
time.  What do people think?
I just did some quick and dirty research on the new rights in the countries you 
mentioned.  From what I can see, they are all ?right to access?, rather than 
?right to?, but it would be useful to hear from people in those countries on the 
exact wording.  We also need to be careful to be clear on human rights and legal 
Costa Rica: A fundamental right to access the Internet.
Ecuador: A constitutional right to access ICTs.
Finland: A legal right as part of universal service obligations to have access 
to 1mb broadband at an affordable price.
Spain: A legal right to be able to buy 1 mb broadband at a fixed price.
Mike ? I was just wondering if you could flesh out your point 2 below a bit more 
please as I?m not sure I understand it at the moment....
I understand that ?access? might be ambiguous and could mean different things.  
But I don?t understand why the even more ambiguous term ?right to the internet? 
is preferable, if just because it?s more ambiguous?  I think we should be as 
clear as we can with our language and avoid ambiguity, or at least 
understand/explain why we have to be ambiguous in some instances.  

For me, I had a clearer idea about what we mean when we?re talking about a 
?right to the Internet? following our call yesterday.  Namely, an umbrella right 
that encompasses a range of other rights including physical access, usability, 
characteristics of the Internet and freedoms of use of the Internet.  As it 
would be an umbrella right, and the whole Charter is effectively fleshing out 
what that right encompasses, it wouldn?t be sufficient to put it as the title to 
the first article in the Charter, which is only talking about physical access, 
useability/accessibility and architecture.  Which is why I suggested it should 
go in the preamble, of we decide to include it.  

But I think you?re suggesting here a slightly different conception of ?right to 
the Internet? that still focuses on access, usability and architecture rather 
than also freedoms and uses on the net?  Or I could be misunderstanding 
A quick aside ? I have really serious concerns about including a right to the 
Internet at this stage, or at least making it a central component of the 
Charter.  Our objectives are to apply existing international standards to the 
Internet as progressively as possible, and declaring a right to the Internet 
goes beyond that.  I don?t think it?s a strategic thing to do at this stage if 
we want to build allies in the international human rights legal and advocacy 
community, amongst quite a large number of governments and in the private 
sector.  We?ve already had harsh criticism on these fronts, and I really don?t 
want us to fall at the first hurdle ? dismissed as being not credible ? when 
what we have in our Charter is so important and has the potential to build a 
strong and broad alliance between human rights defenders.  That?s not to say I 
don?t understand the arguments for including it...I feel I understand a lot more 
than I did before thanks to the discussions we?ve been having.  But at the 
moment we?re quite a small and unrepresentative group....I feel we?re at the 
cusp of changing that and are doing something incredibly useful and important 
here, but really don?t want us to shoot ourselves in the foot at this stage.
But we also shouldn?t forget that we have an external consultation that we can 
make use of to gauge wider opinion on this.  My gut feeling is that we should 
err on the side of caution for now, but actually ask those people that we?re 
trying to reach out to...both the relatively more powerful and relatively more 
powerless/voiceless if at all possible.  

Anyway, let?s continue to discuss over this week in the context of finalising 
the preamble, and see where we get to.  There are such strong feelings on this 
issue within our group, that we may have to formalise our decision making 
procedures a bit more to make a final decision on this.  

Thanks again,
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org/pipermail/irp-internetrightsandprinciples.org/attachments/20101208/4d318e81/attachment.htm>

More information about the IRP mailing list