War for the Web
05 01.12

Internet as a Human Right

Vint Cerf published a great article in the New York Times this week, he makes a very important distinction that we should all be aware of.

Internet access is not a human right. It should not be considered as such. To call something a Human Right gives it an importance that a piece of technology should not have. Rather, the Internet is a tool for achieving a human right. It allows free speech, it allows freedom of access to information. As curators of this tool, Vint argues that engineers have an obligation to the entire community to ensure that this platform is safe and secure.

But this whole discussion brings up another good point. The Internet is simply a tool for communication. It can be used for mass communication or individual communication. Ultimately, however, it is just a tool and as such can be used in good ways and bad ways.

The Internet can allow people to see everything that is out there, to communicate with each other without government interference or other hindrances on freedom of speech and action. But the Internet can also be used to restrict access to information. China does this quite efficiently. They have the Internet, but it doesn’t qualify as a tool to enable freedom, because what they see is controlled by censors.

The Internet is just a tool, and like any tool, like a gun even, it can be used to prevent violence or to encourage it. It can be used to enforce the law or break it. It can be used to enable free speech and access to information, or it can be used to censure it. It all depends on who controls the Internet.

So who controls your Internet?

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