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QOTD: Is Internet Access a Fundamental Right?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 123 comments

Is Internet access a luxury or a necessity?

In October of last year, Finland became the first country to make broadband a legal right. Come July, every person in Finland will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection and the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications has guaranteed that by 2015, this will be upped to a 100-megabit connection.

Today a new survey shows that 80 percent of people believe that Internet access is a fundamental right. BBC News today reports that a survey of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries shows that four out of five people believe that Internet should be a basic right. 

Today's question of the day is: do you think Internet access should be a fundamental right?

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    groveborn , March 8, 2010 8:59 PM
    No, it is not a "basic" right. A basic right is something that cannot be done without. Speech, religion, not being beaten, those are basic rights. Internet access is a luxery.

    I'd much rather my country give us free water. Water should be a right. Electricity would also be nice, but that's asking a lot.
  • 24 Hide
    cscott_it , March 8, 2010 8:58 PM
    Telephone isn't a right, internet access isn't a right either.

    However, for low income families there should be a low-speed discount/coupon. As contradictory as this may sound, I think that children need to grow up somewhat exposed to the internet\computer, or their chances of adapting to non-blue collar job are slim.
  • 22 Hide
    frozenlead , March 8, 2010 8:58 PM
    No. There are dozens of other paths of communication that can be undertaken if the Internet is not present. Sure, the Internet is the most dynamic and useful of all, but it's not necessary for basic and/or civil life. Some may argue that you require it for work and such - but then shouldn't your employer provide you with it during work hours? Does everyone have a right to own a car? No. It's a luxury. We're certainly attached to the Internet a lot, but in no way does that make it necessary, or necessarily a right.
Other Comments
  • -5 Hide
    tramit , March 8, 2010 8:54 PM
    No.... there is life beyond the internet....
  • 18 Hide
    deltatux , March 8, 2010 8:54 PM
    I still am not sure if it should be considered a basic human right. However, a minimum of 1 megabit as a law sounds good.
  • 21 Hide
    rockinthepe , March 8, 2010 8:57 PM
    no, its a luxury, not a necessity like food clothing or shelter.
  • 22 Hide
    frozenlead , March 8, 2010 8:58 PM
    No. There are dozens of other paths of communication that can be undertaken if the Internet is not present. Sure, the Internet is the most dynamic and useful of all, but it's not necessary for basic and/or civil life. Some may argue that you require it for work and such - but then shouldn't your employer provide you with it during work hours? Does everyone have a right to own a car? No. It's a luxury. We're certainly attached to the Internet a lot, but in no way does that make it necessary, or necessarily a right.
  • 24 Hide
    cscott_it , March 8, 2010 8:58 PM
    Telephone isn't a right, internet access isn't a right either.

    However, for low income families there should be a low-speed discount/coupon. As contradictory as this may sound, I think that children need to grow up somewhat exposed to the internet\computer, or their chances of adapting to non-blue collar job are slim.
  • 27 Hide
    groveborn , March 8, 2010 8:59 PM
    No, it is not a "basic" right. A basic right is something that cannot be done without. Speech, religion, not being beaten, those are basic rights. Internet access is a luxery.

    I'd much rather my country give us free water. Water should be a right. Electricity would also be nice, but that's asking a lot.
  • 12 Hide
    kresso , March 8, 2010 9:00 PM
    What does "fundamental right" mean? Is that everyone should have it access to obtain it, or everyone should have it for free? I don't think everyone should have it for free, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't all for a 100-megabit connection for everyone. I just don't know if I would say it is a "fundamental right."
  • -5 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , March 8, 2010 9:05 PM
    In a way, yes. Things like education, healthcare, basic nourishment and accommodations are fundamental rights in my opinion. The internet is now a major part of education though so it is a fundamental right in that regard. However, by that I mean that internet should be freely available at public libraries and in schools. Internet at home isn't though. To have benefits such as internet at home, being able to buy textbooks rather than borrow them, to watch tv etc - those should be earned.

    However, on the other side of things, the ability to have internet at home within reasonable costs if you can afford it *should* be ensured. Fundamental right maybe not but in a modern country run with taxpayers money, it should be ensured that where you live doesn't determine whether you can get internet or not - i.e. rural places should maybe have caps on how much they need to pay to have internet installed. For example, if you're a farmer living in the countryside then you shouldn't have to pay more than say $1000 to have a line installed rather than the 10s of thousands that such people can be charged.
  • 5 Hide
    restatement3dofted , March 8, 2010 9:10 PM
    It's surprising to me that so many people feel that internet access should be a "fundamental right," along with the right to marry, the right to privacy, freedom of speech, etc. It certainly doesn't fit nicely into the category of rights recognized as "fundamental."

    What does this "right" entail? Right to in-home access? If so, who's going to implement a program so that the "right" means something, and who's going to pay for it? Or is it a more general right to access - for example, by using public terminals or libraries? And what does it mean to even *have* a "right" to internet access? Does it mean a right to purchase access, or does it mean a right to have it provided?

    It's a nice thought, a right to internet access - effectively, a right to information and communication - but it starts looking a lot less appealing to me when you start thinking about implementation, oversight, and a vastly higher degree of government involvement in what has, historically, been a largely private industry. Obviously government oversight has been increasing as the internet has become a greater part of our daily lives, but it would skyrocket in the event that it was characterized as a "fundamental right." But let's be realistic - that's happening anyway, whether it's a right or not.
  • 8 Hide
    Tomtompiper , March 8, 2010 9:10 PM
    I don't know about what happens where all the posters who said no live, but where I live a lot of jobs are only available on line. I'm not saying that every home should have free internet, but i do think that everybody should have somewhere they can go to access free internet, be that a library or a community centre.
  • 6 Hide
    maigo , March 8, 2010 9:11 PM
    A right? No.
    A requirement for many people? Yes
  • 2 Hide
    jhansonxi , March 8, 2010 9:13 PM
    The "need" for Internet access is a perception problem. It displaces older mbehaviors and communications like real journalism, social life, economies, exercise, and physical businesses. This seems a barrier to "progress" by people who don't have it. They just don't understand how lucky they are. :D 
  • 0 Hide
    UbeRveLT , March 8, 2010 9:14 PM
    Unfortuately we have become extremely dependant on the internet, simply because it is the one place we can go to get/do almost anything in existance. It is just so useful and simple to anyone that uses it.

    I think it should not be a fundamental right because our lives should not revolve around computers and the internet. But if it were taken away now I think you would see a massive drop in the worlds population...
  • -1 Hide
    rawoysters , March 8, 2010 9:16 PM
    It is becoming a fundamental right with every passing day. As companies move more to electronic data and start doing away with paper, it is forcing everyday people to start paying bills electronically, accessing information electronically sometimes without offering any other alternative. Electricity and other utilities, personal records, etc. are all necessities in life. Once the paper alternative is taken away completely, then the internet becomes a right.
  • 1 Hide
    michaelahess , March 8, 2010 9:19 PM
    Sounds about right, at least 4/5th's of the worlds population are idiots. Now if only the internet could cure their stupidity.....Oh it can, but they choose to use facebook.
  • 5 Hide
    noodlegts , March 8, 2010 9:20 PM
    It is not a fundamental right. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right. The internet is something that exists for those who are willing to pay to access it. Internet service is... a service. Not a right.

    Next we're going to be debating whether or not McDonalds is a right.
  • 4 Hide
    srbruno , March 8, 2010 9:23 PM
    Wait Wait Wait.

    The questions should be:

    "Should the access to information be a fundamental right?" or should information be free?

    What about television? The availability of radio and tv as portals to the outside world were free. The hardware was the only cost. Why is this no different, as far as free information access goes? Why didn't the radio broadcasters get told to just broadcast freely at libraries?

    On the other side, what about electricity? We can't conduct life without, is that a basic fundamental right? One might suggest it is more than information.

    This is a deep topic. love it. :-)
  • -1 Hide
    sceen311 , March 8, 2010 9:23 PM
    Is Internet Access a Fundamental Right?

    IF I was to say it wasn't, then the Government or a Private Organization could assume control and deny access based on race, color, religion, iq, gender or any other number of arbitrary discriminations.

    So yes, I would say Internet Access is a fundamental right.

    Is Internet access a luxury or a necessity?
    Necessary for what? Life, business, education, to pay a bill, what?
    Necessity for X, if you don't give me X I can't answer the question.
  • 7 Hide
    ncarlson , March 8, 2010 9:25 PM
    Internet access is not a fundamental right. You must pay for internet access. Fundamental rights can never be bought or sold, or even created or destroyed for that matter. Our Declaration of Independence says it is self-evident that certain rights such as freedom of religion and freedom of the press are unalienable. And I don't think internet access should ever be one of them.
  • 3 Hide
    matt87_50 , March 8, 2010 9:27 PM
    well, according to Ubisoft and alike, its as necessary as electricity...
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