NY Times on Internet Access as a Human Right

The NY Times has published a supportive editorial on the recent UN report linking Internet access to basic human rights. The editorial references graduated response rules, calling the French and UK laws “draconian.”


  1. Where exactly does it fit into the spectrum of human right? Close to food, housing and medical care perhaps? A human right is something that must be provided. Internet access doesn’t come close and the UN – which hasn’t got a great record when it comes to ensuring far more fundamental rights – is way off target here.

  2. Bob – Before you say they’re off target, have you read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? It’s freely available on their website and it’s what the UN believes are human rights.

    Read that and look at it from their perspective. To me the internet can and does clearly play a part in many of the rights listed within that document.

  3. Given how integrated in to every facet of life, business, commerce and communication the Internet has become I fully agree it access should be a human right. Graduated response clearly violates several section of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The world would grind to a halt and fall in to chaos if the Internet suddenly stopped working. That’s how dependent we’ve become on it. So yes, cutting people off is a big deal.

  4. Human Rights vs. Animal Rights
    Well Bob, so far you’ve done a great job of listing basic “animal rights”. Good to see you hold your own species in such low regard: as long as we eat, drink, and a sheltered we have our basic “rights”. Forget about the internet and all that extravagant stuff like education, just give people a trough with a roof!

  5. @Dohn Joe
    If we’re talking about basic human rights, absolutely a trough with a roof come first. We live in a world where billions of people have a standard of living that we can’t begin to comprehend. Many of them are illiterate. If graduated response is somehow a violation of human rights, what about eviction, or not enough food, or unaffordable health care?

  6. @Bob
    “If graduated response is somehow a violation of human rights, what about eviction, or not enough food, or unaffordable health care?”

    It seems you’re separating rights in to basic rights and perhaps luxury rights.

    Like any of the other so called rights, they’re only rights as long as you can afford them and as long as you choose to exercise those rights.

    Food, housing and medical care are basic rights to be sure, but many cannot afford such rights and many others choose to forgo those rights, well housing and medical care anyways, you can only go so long without food.

    However, first and foremost among rights is the “right to choose”.

    Luxury rights might include things like Internet, electricity, heating and most other utilities. You can’t compare a developed country to that of an undeveloped country, the needs are vastly different. Yes, they’re going to be lacking, and the conditions are abhorrent, but there are many other issues at play in many such locations such as rampant government and military corruption. Rights issues often go far deeper than simply lacking basic rights. It may sound a little cold, but should we, as Canadians, shun progress simply because the entire world is not at our level? Also, you can’t compare the needs of someone in a place like Nunavut with those of someone in Hawaii. Many needs and rights are geographically specific.

  7. @IamMe
    I’m not at all sure that human rights are geographically specific. And the concept of “luxury” human rights seems a contradiction. Graduated response is…graduated. If you do something and go on doing it, the consequences are progressively severe. We apply this to driving offences (is driving a human right?) and public sentiment strongly supports that approach. This is no different.

  8. @Bob – Graduated response is…graduated
    You drew the line between rights, I consider such things as basic. In Canada, the US and most other developed countries, the economy would fall apart if the Internet suddenly went away. When it’s that critical to the country, I consider it a right.

    IP infringement graduated response is flawed because it’s based solely on data which is flawed and often incorrect. With graduated response, they don’t have to actually “catch” you doing anything. The notices are issued solely based your IP address, which is VERY easily spoofed, stolen and/or faked. There is little legal recourse as guilt is assumed.

    With driving offenses, graduated response in Canada works because, for an infraction to count against your record, you MUST be caught in person by an officer of the law. Other tools such, as photo-radar and red-light cameras, do not count against your actual driving record and are only a fine. Why? Because they can’t prove it was you who was driving. Again, no lawful oversight means no graduated response, only a fine. AND in both cases, whether it be an officer that pulls you over or a photo you get in the mail, you are given a date and time on the ticket that you can appear in court to contest it.

    To my knowledge, there are no such provisions for IP graduated response. With IP infringement, guilt is assumed with no law enforcement or court oversight, based on unreliable data, with little or no recourse provided to the accused. BIG DIFFERENCE!!!

  9. How is this still going on? Everytime you read about the UN & human rights remember that it’s withing *their* context of human rights from *their* declaration of human rights. Any other definition is being placed upon them by the reader.