Should universal internet access be a human right?

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
It dawned on me earlier today in reading and reflecting the place that internet access increasingly has in our lives.  Realized it prior, but just a little more clearly today.


I grew up before computers were common in homes and we knew nothing of tablets or smartphones. In those days the public library was a godsend.  If you wanted information, there were libraries for research, newspapers for the daily drip of infotainment, television and radio for a bit of the same with more emphasis on entertainment.


To communicate you picked up the phone and called someone you knew already.


Data wasn't free or flowing very well.  Interactions and new relationships weren't easily formed, perhaps it all insulated us to small tight knit communities and everything was more centered around town squares and civic obligations.  We were outside a good bit.  Exercise and leisure outside of the home was more common.  We spent far less screen time on average and our only interactive tether that was paid out of pocket was the telephone.


All this leads to a question: Should universal internet access be a human right?


The libraries of old were funded by foundations and contributions from all over.  This included some being funded entirely by localities.  Libraries were fairly open places anyone could spend time within freely.  They tend to still be open in this way.  


The information was there if you would spend the time and were willing to learn.  We saw the value and return as a society in maintaining libraries (although in some places such fell into disrepair and became political hot potato).


Today, the library has been diminished in importance.  People live online.   Government forms are increasingly digital-only.  Taxes, done online.  Looking for a job, yep, look online and apply online.   Want to communicate, much of it online, unless you like leaving voicemail messages (and even the phone is VOIP). Plenty of education examples being done online - whole schools and curriculums. Social interaction, for many it's online too.


As the economic side of this internet plays, access is a gated government franchise racket in most places.  Companies pay off localities or counties in the US to be the incumbent, meaning they get solo access and rights to beat rate payers locally out of money for providing services (even when the services fail to perform, even when rates are not competitive, etc.).  The monopoly or in case of a telephone and cable option for internet, duopoly provide little innovation, competition or even means to access.  I for instance lingered under sub par cable company for years while they failed to upgrade infrastructure, slow throughput and high packet loss. Corporate pay to access internet access is a giant disaster throughout the United States.


Some will say that cellular / wireless infrastructure is alternative solution and competition, yet in the States, such is super expensive per gigabyte of data transferred.  


Many among the general population look at the cost of internet access as a luxury item that doesn't fit within their budget by choice or as a result of literal shortage of funds on a continued basis.  These people will have a difficult time functioning, be limited to infotainment options for information, be grossly misinformed, have to travel to get access, pay to get forms, etc.   It's a very tangible, and problematic outcome unless these people are seniors facing end of life.


It all feeds into this core concept that bounces around mentally - Should universal internet access be a human right? (Mind you, I realize the abusive single provider and government lockdown / control under such a system if left unchecked.)
 

AuroraZero

Active Member
The way the world is heading it should be done this way. I know of some banks that actually charge you a fee for sending you statements now snail mail. Not like a dollar fee but five bucks for one and ten for the other. Where I live now the options for high speed are limited to non existent unless you go wireless or cell phone with data caps. 


The infrastructure would need major overhauls in my neck of the woods for this to happen, and I do not see it coming any time soon.  
 

KuJoe

Well-Known Member
Verified Provider
I think that internet access should be a privileged (like a driver's license and the ability to legally drive), not a right.
 

DomainBop

Dormant VPSB Pathogen
I don't see it happening because The Internet of Things will lessen the NSA's dependence on universal Internet access.for keeping track of Americans.  There will be no need to build out costly broadband when you can just build backdoors into appliances and toilets...  


TL;DR: stock advice -> short Facebook, go long Whirlpool

Should universal internet access be a human right?
Internet access ranks way below the basic necessities of life like food, water,  medical care, housing, and education that are listed as human rights in articles 25 and 26 the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is the basis for the bulk of human rights laws.  I'd like to see countries take care of the necessities first (especially since the Internet in many countries has largely become a tool for the dumbing down and control of the population)
 
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graeme

Active Member
It depends what you mean by a human right. I agree it ranks below food and water, on the other hand you can get excluded from many things if you do not have it (its a lot harder to find a job without internet access in any developed country).


On the other hand, I think banning internet access as a means of punishing people sometimes without trial by means of anything from repeated accusations of copyright violations to suspicion of involvement in terrorism is not acceptable because it cuts people off from participation in society and limits their freedom of speech.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
 I know of some banks that actually charge you a fee for sending you statements now snail mail.
Very good point.  As-is today, if you lack internet access, you would have to pay for paper statements and further inflicts that person who might not be able to afford such (both the internet and the fee).

I think that internet access should be a privileged (like a driver's license and the ability to legally drive), not a right.
I've thought this many times from a legal responsibility layer.   Usually when someone goes and does bad with the net, DDoS, fraud, etc.  I know I've even said bondability of the user should be mandatory (personal insurance).


I think a bit still like that and entirely believe corporations should be held to those standards to a higher degree.

Internet access ranks way below the basic necessities of life like food, water,  medical care, housing, and education that are listed as human rights in articles 25 and 26 the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is the basis for the bulk of human rights laws.  I'd like to see countries take care of the necessities first (especially since the Internet in many countries has largely become a tool for the dumbing down and control of the population)
I am with you about priorities and order.  Education I'd argue has done a super job at dumbing the population down - public education that is.  Note the UN Declaration says about education:

Article 26.
 



(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
I am not usually a fan of the UN.  But, this block of good intention at face value is a good one on education. 


I think at least in industrialized cities globally (where many social / mental / substance / other forms of dysfunction concentrate) that internet access provides a good way to facilitate education without exposing children to the terror of others and social ills.  Thus elevation of it as a right sort of lightly happens there above.


I am digging what Khan Academy is doing for education online https://www.khanacademy.org.


If I unplugged tomorrow from the internet, I can't even begin to imagine how I'd function.  All the paper invoices would eat a chunk of my wallet.  Information would be mostly extinct or twisted drips via traditional media and slow access methods (TV + RADIO + NEWSPAPER).  Job search and business searches would be manually driving around town and limited to tolerances of that (yes people use to do that). Amazon and Ebay couldn't send me packages anymore - so I'd spend a lot more for inferior products locally.


Uggh!
 

souen

Active Member
Maybe not an issue in rural areas, if the towns are used to other offline means of communication. In developed cities it would be annoying, to the point that people are expected to use the internet whether or not they're interested in it. People could still get by, but they would be excluded from a lot of extras that require online activation or account management. Funnily, I'm usually of the camp telling people to get with the times and get online, but these days there's a layer of complexity (very basic security and privacy precautions, not like picking up a phone or plugging in a television) that people should be aware of and it's not easy to explain without making it a series like driving lessons. On top of this young children are often allowed to use the internet unsupervised and without being taught basic precautions. Potential for lots of bad things to happen.


Back on topic, at the rate things are going with government services, banks, utilities and more moving online, the internet should be an essential service if not a human right. However, since some regions don't even have the stable electricity requirement met or have other key infrastructure in ruins, I'm not very optimistic about it. Declaring it a right is one thing, accessibility and adoption is another.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Back on topic, at the rate things are going with government services, banks, utilities and more moving online, the internet should be an essential service if not a human right. However, since some regions don't even have the stable electricity requirement met or have other key infrastructure in ruins, I'm not very optimistic about it. Declaring it a right is one thing, accessibility and adoption is another.
I think the same observations could be made on other aspects of the UN's Human Rights Declaration.  When enacted various barriers existed in many place for even the most basic rights defined therein.


We are reaching time and place where technology is existing before sanitation exists.  There are more smartphones in less developed Africa than probably computers and televisions combined.  India probably has similar poor but with smartphone. 


Sanitation lagging internet?  Nothing sexy or cheap about public sanitation.  You can roll out cell infrastructure on a much smaller budget and generally more interest / satisfaction (which sounds weird to people who take sanitation for granted).


All that's left in these places is wireless cells and folks will be online for many many square miles around.  Cell infrastructure is ideal for rural basic use.  Not suitable for video and HD, but neither are devices in pockets right now.


Satellite is a possible play there too... As is floating wireless up in the sky - ala Loon https://www.google.com/loon/.  
 

AuroraZero

Active Member
The only way Satellite and Cell phone data could come to be serious players is to remove the data restrictions. The cost of those technologies compared to the amount you can use them most could not afford, and would not, them. I am stuck paying right now for a damned useless 2GB of data on my wife's tablet because of a contract. She never uses it but I have to pay $30 a month for it none the less, or get bitch slapped with a fee. 


In my area we do not have DSL/Fiber options at all. We recently have a wireless company that came to town. Costs me $60 a month for a 3/512, but it is a true 3/512. I do not share that line with thirty others in my neighborhood. I can maxed it daily at any time and keep it there. 


I live non a sparse budget since my forced retirement. I have thought about starting a hosting company, but I do not have the funds to do it right so I have not done it. I catch some odd jobs here and there , but where I live is rural. No can not afford to move and would not anyways. I like where I live and how I live. I cut my some of my own wood for heat, I hunt and fish. My wife loves the country and so do I, and that will not change any time soon. I have lived in the city in different countries and I do not like it at all. Too many people and too much congestion for me and mine.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
The only way Satellite and Cell phone data could come to be serious players is to remove the data restrictions. The cost of those technologies compared to the amount you can use them most could not afford, and would not, them. I am stuck paying right now for a damned useless 2GB of data on my wife's tablet because of a contract. She never uses it but I have to pay $30 a month for it none the less, or get bitch slapped with a fee. 


In my area we do not have DSL/Fiber options at all. We recently have a wireless company that came to town. Costs me $60 a month for a 3/512, but it is a true 3/512. I do not share that line with thirty others in my neighborhood. I can maxed it daily at any time and keep it there. 


I live non a sparse budget since my forced retirement. I have thought about starting a hosting company, but I do not have the funds to do it right so I have not done it. I catch some odd jobs here and there , but where I live is rural. No can not afford to move and would not anyways. I like where I live and how I live. I cut my some of my own wood for heat, I hunt and fish. My wife loves the country and so do I, and that will not change any time soon. I have lived in the city in different countries and I do not like it at all. Too many people and too much congestion for me and mine.
Oh the bought in contract tablet thing.  I can relate.  Same boat.  Getting bitch slapped either way ;)


Wireless like you have there is pretty alright.  I had something similar for years that did about a 25 mile trip over 3 access point hops to a datacenter.  It rocked.  Would take it again in a heartbeat.


Living on a budget is a good thing.  Modest living rules, you can actually have a life with such.  In contrast to the treadmill of work that shreds clock and years.


I am with you on the rural living too.


Joining us this spring @AuroraZero for our garden session?  Spring is coming ;)
 

AuroraZero

Active Member
Oh the bought in contract tablet thing.  I can relate.  Same boat.  Getting bitch slapped either way ;)


Wireless like you have there is pretty alright.  I had something similar for years that did about a 25 mile trip over 3 access point hops to a datacenter.  It rocked.  Would take it again in a heartbeat.


Living on a budget is a good thing.  Modest living rules, you can actually have a life with such.  In contrast to the treadmill of work that shreds clock and years.


I am with you on the rural living too.


Joining us this spring @AuroraZero for our garden session?  Spring is coming ;)
Oh yeah I miss my garden man. I have not had one in years and this year that will change. Need to get back to my roots and start canning things up again. :)


I like this connection it is fast and seems faster then advertised most of the time. Does streaming well and covers my needs fine. The wife can do her games and what not, so she is happy. We are happy and content, we have what need and then some. Life is good and that is all I can ask for anymore.
 

Localnode

New Member
Verified Provider
I believe Internet access to be a utility, however I don't think it's an essential utility. You can live without Internet for now. Paper-bills still come - I've gone paperless for all of my bills. Some companies will charge $2 per bill, and more charge if you pay in-store rather than direct debit.


There needs to be equal opportunity access to high-speed Internet (slowly getting done here in Australia). I find ADSL to just not be good enough.

The only way Satellite and Cell phone data could come to be serious players is to remove the data restrictions. The cost of those technologies compared to the amount you can use them most could not afford, and would not, them. I am stuck paying right now for a damned useless 2GB of data on my wife's tablet because of a contract. She never uses it but I have to pay $30 a month for it none the less, or get bitch slapped with a fee. 
My plan gives me 500MB, and I pay substantially more. It's robbery really. 500MB today doesn't get you very far. Beyond 500MB it's $10 per GB after that.


We have data restrictions from most Internet providers. There are a few "unlimited" Internet providers - but you'll most likely have poor stability or really bad speeds. Wireless/Satellite has no (that I know of) unlimited providers. 


Is it a right? Yes and no. As I mentioned, there should be equal opportunity to access high-speed Internet. There's work to be done on that front in rural areas world-wide.
 

RLT

Active Member
Local phone company charges $10 dollars to accept in person payments.


Almost no local businesses do paper job applications and they do first contact by emails. 


All of the local government offices refer you to the web site for any inquiry. Payments are charged extra if paid in person.


All this in a couple of very rural counties in Appalachian hill country.


So from my viewpoint its getting closer and closer to being a necessary evil.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
All this in a couple of very rural counties in Appalachian hill country.


So from my viewpoint its getting closer and closer to being a necessary evil.
How is the internet access in those counties?  1 old telco on slow drip?
 

RLT

Active Member
At the best we have a local telco with fiber in and close to town. 10 meg ADSL where I live. Some 20 meg cable. The rest is dial up. I moved to dad's old place just to get the ADSL and away from dial up or satellite.
 
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