Thursday, January 05, 2012

Internet Access as a Human Right

I particularly liked Vint Cerf's op-ed in the New York Times entitled, "Internet Access Is Not a Human Right."

It is tempting to succumb to the notion that Internet access, along with access to a bunch of other things, are human rights, but Cerf makes a persuasive argument that this is the wrong way to think about rights and the technologies that enable facilitate the exercise of some rights.

Here is the way Cerf, Google's chief Internet evangelist, put it:

"The best way to characterize human rights is to identify the outcomes that we are trying to ensure. These include critical freedoms like freedom of speech and freedom of access to information — and those are not necessarily bound to any particular technology at any particular time. Indeed, even the United Nations report, which was widely hailed as declaring Internet access a human right, acknowledged that the Internet was valuable as a means to an end, not as an end in itself."

I say, well put.