Google evangelist and “father of the Internet” Vint Cerf has made a compelling argument on The New York Times about how Internet access is not a human right. Ever since thousands of people communicated through the Internet to form protests in the streets of the Middle East, questions have been raised about whether Internet should be a civil or a human right. Cerf argues that technology is an enabler of rights, but not a right itself. In order for something to be considered a human right, it should be a thing that we as humans need in order to remain healthy and lead meaningful lives such as freedom from torture.
“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,” wrote Cerf.
Cerf also pointed out that the U.S. never decreed that everyone has a “right” to a telephone, but we have formed a notion that access to a phone must be available even in the most remote regions of the country. “When we accept this idea, we are edging into the idea of Internet access as a civil right, because ensuring access is a policy made by the government.”
Click here to read Cerf’s full op-ed.