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

Benedek, Wolfgang wolfgang.benedek@uni-graz.at wolfgang.benedek
Thu Jan 5 18:51:50 EET 2012

Dear all,

it appears to be more obvious that denial of access to the internet, i.e.
to express one's opinions or seek information is a violation of a human
right. However, vice versa this means that there is a human right of
access to the internet.Access is not just needed for freedom of
expression, but also for the full enjoyment of many other rights like the
right to education. Therefore, the Charter on Human Rights and Principles
for the Internet, developed by the Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights
and Principles put the right to access in the beginning

Matthias Kettemann was just referring to the UN Special Rapporteur on
Freedom of Expression, who this year presented an excellent report on
Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Internet to the Human Rights

Obviously, similar to freedom of expression, this is not an absolute
right, it can be restricted for the reasons spelled out in Article 19 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or Article 10
Para. 2 of the European Convention on Hrs. To pay a reasonable price is
not among them. It is also not absolute in the sense that a positive
obligation to provide will depend on the capacity of the country
concerned. Here the formula adopted in Article 2 of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights according to which
countries are expected to make best efforts towards the progressive
realization can lead the way (to take steps, individually and through
international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and
technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to
achieving progressively the full realization of the rights).

However, this is not the case for the respect and protect elements of the
right, meaning that the state has to respect the use of the internet by
everyone for legal purposes and to protect everyone against interference
with this right.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Benedek
Institute for International Law and International Relations
University of Graz

Am 05.01.12 15:16 schrieb "Norbert Bollow" unter <nb at bollow.ch>:

>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.
>IRP mailing list
>IRP at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org

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