Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Internet is not a right.

Don't be stupid enough to say that the internet is a human right. Sure, the internet allows us access to information we could never reach before, but it's not a human right to have access to ALL or even ANY of that information.

How would you even define the internet if you wanted to refer to it as mainly the information carried and not the hardware and software necessary to transfer it?

The internet changes from moment to moment. How can you expect to have a right to something that's here one minute and gone the next? The internet evolves and flows continually, daily. It's like saying you have a right to the oceans. You might have some rights in the oceans, but only the rights that your boat offers. And only the rights that territories grant. And only the rights that you can defend. Because you're out in the ocean. With sharks.

You also can't dump toxic waste in the oceans. And you can't remove all the food from the oceans. And you can't remove all the water from the oceans.

Well, you can. But you shouldn't.

If you shield any part of your Facebook profile from strangers then you agree. If the internet were a right, than Facebook would be a right, and access to every user on Facebook would be a right. But the right to access Facebook accounts is not a right because Facebook is just another service accessible through the internet.

Many resources that can be found on the internet are not free. But if the internet is a basic human right, then these resources must be free. What about access to monitor nuclear power stations? Or water treatment facilities? Oh, wait, you say you don't mean that everything *on* the internet is a right? Then what the hell do you mean? You mean access to the internet? Again, the whole internet, or just the good parts? What if you can only access a State-sponsored internet? Would that be okay? And if not, why not? Since no one person has access to every part of the internet, then it can't possibly be a right.

Basic human rights should never infringe on the rights of others. A basic human right to the internet would force us all to be equals on the internet. But we're not equals. Some of us are creators and some are consumers; some are providers and some are participants. You have as much right to play World of Warcraft as you have to walk uninvited through the front door of my home and eat dinner at my table, which is no right at all.

The internet is just technology. When you compare the technology of the internet to things such as the printing press, you reveal to the world that you don't know what the internet is. The thinker of that piece of wisdom says "The invention of the printing press revealed new rights, new concerns nobody cared about until the printing press appeared. It's difficult trying to list these new rights without reference to the technology that enabled them."

And what are these new rights the internet creates? The right have my avatar fuck your avatar? The internet is the medium and we are the message. Whatever rights we have in the place where our feet touch the soil are the only rights we should expect online. Demanding a right to something that requires the functions of artificial satellites in orbit around our planet is simply arrogant.

One would think that it's more important to say that freedom from hunger is a human right. But we all know that isn't true. Because food isn't free.

The internet allows us to gather and use information more quickly. And we know that information is power. And since when is power a basic human right?

You have no basic human right to any of the things you find on the internet. Except maybe a right to assemble peaceably. Your rights to free speech are strictly moderated at most places on the internet. Your freedom from violence and abuse is constantly under attack.

What are basic human rights? I have the right to participate in government. But no one would every argue that I should have access to serve in every political office in the country without restrictions. I have the right to live in the country of my choice. Unless I don't follow the rules and piss off the country of my choice, then I don't. I have the right to live free from violence. And we all laugh at that.

And despite what you may think, there is no basic human right to be educated; that's actually a responsibility that most of us neglect.

The internet is like the real world in that you can have all the rights you can afford to pay for with money or with violence.

Or, ... you know what? I changed my mind. Make it a right. Everyone can have all the internet they can fill their bellies with, and all the internet that fills their lungs, and all the internet that provides warmth and shelter and love and freedom. Yes, and all the porn your hungry eyes can swallow. Because clearly, you have your priorities in order.

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