Web inventor says Internet should be 'human right'

December 11, 2014 by Sylvia Hui

The computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web says affordable access to the Internet should be recognized as a human right, as a report showed that billions of people still cannot go online and government surveillance and censorship are increasing.

Tim Berners-Lee said Thursday the Internet can help tackle inequality - but only if it comes with the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. The Briton, who launched the Web in 1990, made the remarks as he released his World Wide Web Foundation's latest report tracking the Internet's global impact.

The Web Index found that laws preventing mass online surveillance are weak or nonexistent in more than 84 percent of countries. It also said that almost 40 percent of surveyed countries were blocking sensitive online content to a "moderate or extreme degree," and that half of all Web users live in countries that severely restrict their rights online.

Almost 4.4 billion people - most of them in developing countries - still have no access to the Internet, the Web Index said.

"It's time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right," Berners-Lee said. "That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring Internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live."

Denmark, Finland, and Norway were ranked as top overall, meaning they were best at using the Internet for economic, political and social progress. At the bottom of a list of 86 countries were Yemen, Myanmar and Ethiopia.

Berners-Lee was working an engineer at the CERN laboratory in Geneva when he proposed the idea of a World Wide Web in 1989.

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_Publius_
not rated yet Dec 12, 2014
A "Human Right" can only be categorized by something that has been a human right since the dawn of time. Life, Liberty, breathing, etc.

Technological innovation does not create new rights, because then it could be argued that technological innovation can subjugate other, previous rights.

Use this as a gauge when determining whether or not something is a "human right" - Did this same" right" exist 100 years ago?

This is not to say that rights haven't been trampled on. You can't look at history and say, "such-and-such group had their rights violated, so the right didn't exist". The right still existed, even if it was squelched.

This is why it is important to stand up for true human rights regardless of the era. But access to the internet is not a human right, for the simple reason that an individual can't guarantee their own personal access outside the intervention or providence of others.

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