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Is the Web a Fundamental Right?



Reuters is reporting that a BBC survey reveals that four out of five respondents believe the web is a fundamental right and not just a privilege. 78% of 27,000 respondents in 26 countries said that the web gave them greater freedom. Intriguingly 65 percent were concerned about expressing themselves freely on line. Over half of the respondents felt the Internet should not be regulated in any way.

No matter how you look at this, it shows just how much the web has become a part of our daily lives. So how do you feel about this? Is accessing the web a fundamental right, or is it a privilege?



  1. Sumocat

    03/09/2010 at 11:35 am

    Who are these people who think the Internet should not be regulated in any way? Laws against scammers, spammers, hackers and child predators are government regulations, and I’m okay with that. Like the freedom of speech and freedom of press, rights must be balanced with responsibility.

  2. TateJ

    03/09/2010 at 12:20 pm

    I do not believe the web is a fundamental right anymore than owning a newspaper or a book.

  3. Chris Hickie

    03/09/2010 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t think the Founding Fathers were thinking internet being free any more than they thought printing presses should be free (and fundamental) when they drafted the key documents that govern the USA.

  4. Gavin Miller

    03/09/2010 at 2:27 pm

    Fresh water is a right. Living without fear for your family’s safety is a right. Freedom from prejudice is a right.

    Access to Facebook, Pron and every episode of 24 however, is not.

    Balancing this however, it certainly is the case that internet access does allow freedom in the ready access to information and alternative views. Hence why repressive countries will try and limit access.

  5. SAM

    03/09/2010 at 2:46 pm

    But when you start regulating it, where does it stop?
    Much like gun control.

    Look at China, you can not even link to a good
    share of western websites, unless you are a Chinese government hacker.

    Pretty soon, someone decides you shouldn’t look at
    tablet PCs because, what do you really need one of those
    things for, it could be used as a Terrorists tool for
    sketching out the next strike plan…

    • TateJ

      03/09/2010 at 3:16 pm

      Agreed. But the one thing we need to remember isthat the internet is not the only place to get information, just the easiest.

      I believe one has the right to buy/get internet access, but to have it given to them.

  6. sbtablet

    03/09/2010 at 4:26 pm

    @Chris Hickie–Let’s not confuse fundamental human rights and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

    Fundamental rights like life, liberty, safety, shelter, and education are generally understood to be things you are entitled to because you are human and you are breathing. It’s not that many or even most governments protect these rights on behalf of their citizens. It’s the idea that these rights OUGHT to be protected because that’s what’s morally just.

    Given that, I can see that access to the Internet would be an important tool for individuals to be able to protect and advocate for themselves and their rights, because access to information and communication is a huge asset in that regard. Restricting access to information is a dictatorship’s way of controlling it’s citizens, and giving corporations too much control over what people can access and at what price (i.e. the two tier system or the end of net neutrality) is the capitalist way of doing the same thing.

    It’s probably silly to say that internet access is a fundamental right, but I do agree that the internet ought not to be overly regulated, or too tightly controlled by any government, corporation, or group. Freedom to communicate, to connect with other people, and to get information is vital to promoting a freer, hopefully safer, and more just world.

    And yes, I’m an idealistic dreamer. What else is new?

    • Chris hickie

      03/10/2010 at 4:54 pm

      Who said I was confusing them? Where do your fundamental rights come from? If you are in the middle of the Sahara Desert, you may feel you have a fundamental right (actually more of a fundamental need) to water, but that won’t change the fact you probably will have to look hard for it or might not find any and die of thirst.

      If you want free internet, go to the library. If want it on your own computer or at your domicile, then go work and pay for it and the computer. That’s all I’m saying. In the days of Ben Franklin, those who owned presses were given the freedom to print what they wanted, but they weren’t given a press for free. And those who wanted to speak on a streetcorner were free to say what they wanted, but they had to get out of bed and get their corpus to the streetcorner. Seems like a lot of people nowadays want everything guaranteed to them for free and hand delivered with a bow on it, and the survey for this article seem to show it.

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