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Tim Berners-Lee Believes Internet Access Is A Human Right

With all of the discussions about the Web regarding net neutrality and privacy, organizations such as the World Wide Web Foundation are fighting for an affordable and unrestricted Web. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the organization's founding director and the man widely credited for creating the World Wide Web in 1989, said (according to a Web Index blog post) that Internet access is a human right. He also said that the foundation's vision can only be reached if people "hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality into the rules of the game."

The foundation's release of a new report, the Web Index, shows that the world is far from achieving its goal. By examining issues such as net neutrality, censorship, and gender-based violence in 86 countries, the report shows some staggering results. In 2013, 63 percent of countries had weak or even nonexistent laws against mass surveillance. The Web Index now reports that percentage has risen to 84 percent.

In terms of censorship, 38 percent of the countries observed are moderately or heavily censoring political and socially sensitive content. Only a quarter of the countries assessed have proper laws with clear rules about net neutrality. In order to combat this trend, the foundation is hoping politicians take on a number of issues such as providing high-quality education for everyone, pushing for universal Web access, and using the Web to push for government transparency while also protecting freedom of speech.

Berners-Lee's comments echo that of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who in August 2013 talked about providing universal Internet access in a document called "Is Connectivity a Human Right?". Zuckerberg's comments came along with the launch of Internet.org, which aims to make the Internet available in every part of the world. The initiative also includes support from Facebook, Samsung, Qualcomm, Opera Software, Nokia, Mediatek, and Ericsson. Google is also pushing for a similar goal with Project Loon, which just finished the first round of tests for its balloon-powered Internet provider.

Unfortunately, the change demanded from Berners-Lee and Zuckerberg won't happen overnight. However, the fact that the fight to change the state of the Web is supported by these big names as well as huge and well-known companies that provide credibility to the seriousness of these Web issues. With this level of support, the hope is that lawmakers will take these issues seriously and push for a cheap, uncensored, and equal Internet for all.

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  • ubercake
    Berners-Lee is ingenious.

    Obama should have appointed him head of the FCC rather than the corporate lobbyist Wheeler.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    "...and using the Web to push for government transparency while also protecting freedom of speech...."

    Two things that threaten a government with too much control:
    1) Transparency
    2) Freedom of Speech
    Reply
  • coolitic
    Lot's of people agree with the public when they start rioting (metaphorically speaking)

    'Tis best to trust those who agree before it gets popular.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    A worthy ideal, yes. Human right? no.

    I think human rights are timeless, and not tied to specific technologies. It bugs me when terms like "human rights" get thrown around too easily, as it erodes their traditional meanings and importance.
    Reply
  • kenjitamura
    ubercake said:
    Berners-Lee is ingenious.

    Obama should have appointed him head of the FCC rather than the corporate lobbyist Wheeler.
    Does Tim Berners-Lee have US citizenship? Since most federal positions require the applicant be a US citizen I don't think Tim Berners-Lee could qualify if he isn't one.
    Reply
  • BulkZerker
    kenjitamura.
    *Natural born citizen.
    It didn't stop our president from getting elected now did it? /s
    Reply
  • alidan
    @bit_user
    basic human right... clean drinking water... we see that technology is required for that because look at the 3rd world countries who don't have it.

    so because it requires technology should water no longer be a human right?

    internet = information, news, almost everything required to have a decent life can be gotten from the internet cheaper than almost any other means... yes it is a basic human right and should be recognized as such.
    Reply
  • sportfreak23
    Still waiting for anything faster then standard 5/1 DSL garbage.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    14791180 said:
    ubercake said:
    Berners-Lee is ingenious.

    Obama should have appointed him head of the FCC rather than the corporate lobbyist Wheeler.
    Does Tim Berners-Lee have US citizenship? Since most federal positions require the applicant be a US citizen I don't think Tim Berners-Lee could qualify if he isn't one.
    I doubt it's impossible for things like this to happen. I once heard a story about a man who was born in Austria and appointed to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition who also went on to become a governor of California.

    Since Wheeler has stated "I am an independent agency" when referring to the FCC, I imagine it is not bound to rules of other government positions - particularly those requiring naturalization - other than being appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. Since there is a conflict of interest with Wheeler in that commissioners and chairpersons should never have a financial interest in FCC-related business, Wheeler should have never been appointed in the first place. Wheeler is 100% on the side of big business no matter what kind of posturing he exhibits.
    Reply
  • uk-thewall
    Food, water and shelter, those are human rights. Human rights should be those things we need to help us live a reasonable life away from persecution. I lost my broadband for a week last year, I didn't starve, probably got out and lived my life a little better, it's hardly a necessity and certainly not a right, let alone human right. Tim needs to get a life and get off his high horse.

    Makes you wonder how we survived before 1989.
    Reply