[IRP] Vint Cerf op-ed in the New York Times: "Internet Access Is Not a Human Right"

Kettemann, Matthias matthias.kettemann@uni-graz.at matthias.kettemann
Thu Jan 5 15:34:04 EET 2012

Dear all

I'd like to raise three issues:

First, the Special Rapporteur expressly referred to the Internet as having become a "tool" for realizing a range of human rights. I don't see the point Vint Cerf's is trying to make, when he writes that "technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself". This is what I understand "tool" to mean: an "enabler". To me, he seems to be on the same page as the Special Rapporteur in this regard.

Second, the human rights dimension of access to the Internet and to content is more complex a question than might appear at first glance. In his oral statement, Mr. La Rue highlighted the two dimensions of access: access to Internet and access to online content. Both pose specific, but interrelated human rights challenges. Using the  Internet as a facilitator for other human rights presupposes access to the Internet in the first place (connectivity) and then unfiltered access to content. (I've blogged about these two kinds of access here: http://internationallawandtheinternet.blogspot.com/2011/11/two-kinds-of-access.html)

Third, it doesn't serve the human rights discourse to differentiate between "civil rights" and "human rights". Human rights encompass, inter alia, civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights. The 1993 Vienna Declaration reminds us in para. 5 that all human rights are "universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated". Hanging one's argument on one arbitrary definition - civil rights as constitutional endowments and human rights as dignity-based concepts - means ignoring much of the intellectual contribution of half a century of human rights theory.

It is true that declaring a right to Internet access might not be the best approach to ensuring that more people have access to the Internet, and unfiltered access to Internet content. But I do not see whether declaring, as Vint Cerf did, in a NY Time editorial, that there is no such thing as a right to Internet is a more valuable contribution to the debate and to the goal of ensuring (both dimensions of) Internet access for all.



Von: irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org [mailto:irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org] Im Auftrag von Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 05. J?nner 2012 13:56
An: irp
Betreff: [IRP] Fwd: [ PRIVACY Forum ] Vint Cerf op-ed in the New York Times: "Internet Access Is Not a Human Right"

FYI. Any comments?

Kind regards,


-------- Message original --------

[ PRIVACY Forum ] Vint Cerf op-ed in the New York Times: "Internet Access Is Not a Human Right"

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Wed, 4 Jan 2012 23:01:38 -0800

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Vint Cerf op-ed in the New York Times: "Internet Access Is Not a Human Right"<http://j.mp/wwL9Ip(NewYorkTimes)>


http://j.mp/wwL9Ip  (New York Times)<http://j.mp/wwL9Ip(NewYorkTimes)>


   "<http://j.mp/wwL9Ip(NewYorkTimes)>Improving the Internet is just one means, albeit an important one, by

    which to improve the human condition. It must be done with an

    appreciation for the civil and human rights that deserve protection -

    without pretending that access itself is such a right."

 - - -


Lauren Weinstein (lauren at vortex.com<mailto:lauren at vortex.com>): http://www.vortex.com/lauren

Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org


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