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

Norbert Bollow nb
Thu Jan 5 16:16:27 EET 2012

Wolf Ludwig <wolf.ludwig at comunica-ch.net> wrote:

> Thanks for letting us know, Olivier. On this point, I don't agree
> with Vint Cerf or let's say, it's a question of definition
> again. Maybe Vint has another understanding about "human rights"
> ("that deserve protection") - what is a rather traditional and
> defensive approach like minors protection etc.? I believe that in
> the digital age *access itself* becomes / is crucial for people like
> access to clean water, health care or education ... And therefore it
> needs to be considered as a *basic* human/civil right, following a
> social and not a technical understanding.

One thing I know from what he said in Nairobi is that he has a
different understanding of the term "the Internet" from how
most people understand and use the term.

Specifically, from Vint Cerf's perspective, "the Internet" is a
specific communication network with specific architectural

It is conceivable that the social role that the Internet has
today might at some point in the future be provided by a
communications network that is architected on the basis of a
different set of architectural principles.

Maybe, instead of asserting "Internet access is a human right"
it would be better to assert something like the following:

  It is a human right that a person's access to means of communication
  must not be hindered in any way beyond the charging of reasonable
  prices for communication related goods and services.

At the present time this would imply that denying someone Internet
access is a human rights violation. Which it is, today. But when
the principle is phrased like I propose above, it in addition meets
the criteria that Vint Cerf asserts that human rights should satisfy.


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