NY Times Article: Internet Access Is Not a Human Right by Vinton Cerf
So in other words... when governments restrict or deny access to the internet, such as in China or Egypt, that's not curtailing civil liberties? Hrm.In June, citing the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, a report by the United Nations’ special rapporteur went so far as to declare that the Internet had “become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights.” Over the past few years, courts and parliaments in countries like France and Estonia have pronounced Internet access a human right.
But that argument, however well meaning, misses a larger point: technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself. There is a high bar for something to be considered a human right. Loosely put, it must be among the things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things. For example, at one time if you didn’t have a horse it was hard to make a living. But the important right in that case was the right to make a living, not the right to a horse. Today, if I were granted a right to have a horse, I’m not sure where I would put it.
I understand their reasoning. I don't want future generations thinking they're entitled to cars and mp3 players, but something here doesn't sit right with me. I can't put my finger on it yet... I'm hoping the thoughts of others will help me figure it out. Perhaps the hinging point is that "internet access" is intangible unlike a horse or an e-reader.