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Access to the internet - a fundamental right?

is access to the internet a fundamental right?


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Goobieman

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Pursuant to this story:

BBC News - Finland makes broadband a 'legal right'

From the story:

A poll conducted for the BBC World Service earlier this year found that almost four in five people around the world believed that access to the internet is a fundamental right.
So, is access to the internet a fundamental right?
Please explain your response.
 

Ikari

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No it's not. I would however give tax money to have the government built a very high speed internet skeleton system which companies could then plug into. Since it would be used with tax dollars, true net neutrality. No monitoring of sites, no throttling back and forth the internet speed, none of it. Companies can charge for their services and provide access to the internet, but that's it. But no way no how is it an actual right.
 

tacomancer

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I believe in cases where government services are accessed primarily online, than an internet connection should be considered a right. Otherwise, it should not be. I am not sure if this is the case in Finland or UK, but I believe they are moving in that direction.
 

fredmertz

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internet is a technology. How could anyone ever feel entitled, simply because they live, or because they live in the US (or any other country), to a technology? That would be like thinking you entitled to HealthCare, or retirement Pension (SocialSecurity) or unemployment checks simply because you're an American. I mean, yes, we're all paying for these things via taxes and we all 'benefit' if we ever need it. But it just doesn't make sense. These things cost money and it should be up to the individual to decide how they spend their earned money (or don't spend their money) so long as it doesn't directly cost others money. So by entitling this technology, you are again deciding how Americans spend their money "for the good of the people". These are NOT fundamental rights. What is a fundamental right? That I get to decide how I spend the money that I earn.
 

tacomancer

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internet is a technology. How could anyone ever feel entitled, simply because they live, or because they live in the US (or any other country), to a technology? That would be like thinking you entitled to HealthCare, or retirement Pension (SocialSecurity) or unemployment checks simply because you're an American. I mean, yes, we're all paying for these things via taxes and we all 'benefit' if we ever need it. But it just doesn't make sense. These things cost money and it should be up to the individual to decide how they spend their earned money (or don't spend their money) so long as it doesn't directly cost others money. So by entitling this technology, you are again deciding how Americans spend their money "for the good of the people". These are NOT fundamental rights. What is a fundamental right? That I get to decide how I spend the money that I earn.
In the past, using your body was sufficient to interact with society and government or if it wasn't it was the best we could do as technology allowed. In the case of the future, this is becoming less and less true and since the body is becoming less sufficient, I think it is appropriate to extend those functions to whatever functional object is sufficient to achieve that purpose. A person should always have the right to interact with their government and if they are unable to because of ill health, the lack of transportation to the local office, no telephone, no internet, whatever, than they are losing something very important and essential to freedom, and in my opinion, it is far more important than some money that would otherwise be taxed.
 

fredmertz

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In the past, using your body was sufficient to interact with society and government or if it wasn't it was the best we could do as technology allowed. In the case of the future, this is becoming less and less true and since the body is becoming less sufficient, I think it is appropriate to extend those functions to whatever functional object is sufficient to achieve that purpose. A person should always have the right to interact with their government and if they are unable to because of ill health, the lack of transportation to the local office, no telephone, no internet, whatever, than they are losing something very important and essential to freedom, and in my opinion, it is far more important than some money that would otherwise be taxed.
You raise interesting points. I don't believe that the person should be 'provided' with the ability to communicate via the government. That's not the gov'ts job. The job of the government is simply to make sure that their opportunity to communicate is not taken away. To protect them and their fundamental rights. If they are unable to create a means of communication with the government, that is their own problem, not the government's. The government should never deny any form of communication that someone tries to use. Whether they are in person holding up signs, emailing or mailing. If they put up road blocks, that's a corrupt government.

But if they don't reach out and send you the stamps, paper and pen (and perhaps, writing classes for the illiterate) so you can mail your letter, they're not doing anything wrong. Likewise with new technologies. They don't provide the means, just the opportunity.
 

tacomancer

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You raise interesting points. I don't believe that the person should be 'provided' with the ability to communicate via the government. That's not the gov'ts job. The job of the government is simply to make sure that their opportunity to communicate is not taken away. To protect them and their fundamental rights. If they are unable to create a means of communication with the government, that is their own problem, not the government's. The government should never deny any form of communication that someone tries to use. Whether they are in person holding up signs, emailing or mailing. If they put up road blocks, that's a corrupt government.
While there is a distinction between positive rights and negative ones, I think this is a case where the government does need to do something to insure a basic equality in this manner or else people become disenfranchised, which is a huge problem. I see it as a case of a right to a jury by one's peers. Sure, people don't like jury duty and it inhibits their rights in the sense that they probably would rather being doing something else with their time, but the gain is more important than the loss.

But if they don't reach out and send you the stamps, paper and pen (and perhaps, writing classes for the illiterate) so you can mail your letter, they're not doing anything wrong. Likewise with new technologies. They don't provide the means, just the opportunity.
I think all postal mail to the government that is used in doing business with the government, such as filing taxes or signing up for selective service should be free. But then the USPS is an arm of the government.

Obviously there is a practical limit, but in the case of selective service, I think you can pretty much get anything you need in a post office. This is a good model.
 
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samsmart

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So, is access to the internet a fundamental right?
Please explain your response.
I believe that as technology advances and humanity takes advantage of those technologies, some of those technologies will be so important to living in a modern world that a people and their government can recognize such technologies as a fundamental right.

If Finland recognizes internet access as a fundamental right for their people, I have no problem with it.
 

Ockham

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The government should not be involved in providing a basic right to the internet or any form of communication. They should however, protect the rights of it's citizens to gain access to said communication, without encroaching on the over arching rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".
 

fredmertz

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While there is a distinction between positive rights and negative ones, I think this is a case where the government does need to do something to insure a basic equality in this manner or else people become disenfranchised, which is a huge problem. I see it as a case of a right to a jury by one's peers. Sure, people don't like jury duty and it inhibits their rights in the sense that they probably would rather being doing something else with their time, but the gain is more important than the loss.



I think all postal mail to the government that is used in doing business with the government, such as filing taxes or signing up for selective service should be free. But then the USPS is an arm of the government.

Obviously there is a practical limit, but in the case of selective service, I think you can pretty much get anything you need in a post office. This is a good model.
ah well then, I suppose as per usual, we'll have to agree to disagree. But I understand your points.
 

Kandahar

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Pursuant to this story:

BBC News - Finland makes broadband a 'legal right'

From the story:

So, is access to the internet a fundamental right?
Please explain your response.
Eventually it will be, yes. But in the United States, I don't think we're quite there yet, technologically or financially. Finland can pull it off because they're a much smaller country with great infrastructure. The US has 60 times as many people and ****ty infrastructure.

A few months ago, Obama launched an initiative (I forget the name) to give all Americans access to broadband by 2020. While that seems like a ridiculously long time to me, I'm glad we are at least recognizing universal broadband as a worthy goal.
 
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Goobieman

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While there is a distinction between positive rights and negative ones, I think this is a case where the government does need to do something to insure a basic equality in this manner or else people become disenfranchised, which is a huge problem.
To apply 'disenfranchised' to not having access to the internet is a massively huge stretch, especially given that while you have a right to vote, you are not disenfranchised by not having a ride to the voting booth.

Why do people continue to think that when they have a right to (x) they are entitled to the means to exercise their right to (x)?
 

Goobieman

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Eventually it will be, yes.
How can something that must be provided to you by others be a 'fundamental right'?
How can something that you have only because the goverment created a law that gives it to you be a 'fundamental right'?
 

Kandahar

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How can something that must be provided to you by others be a 'fundamental right'?
Most Finns (as well as many Americans) have a very different concept of rights than you do. No one is talking about it being synonymous with, say, freedom of speech. When Finland refers to it as being a fundamental right, they mean that it's the responsibility of the government to make sure that everyone has access to it.

Goobieman said:
How can something that you have only because the goverment created a law that gives it to you be a 'fundamental right'?
I'm not sure what you're asking. ALL of our rights exist only because the government created a law (or a constitutional amendment) giving them to us. Maybe I could give a better answer if you explained which of our fundamental rights you don't think fall into that category.
 
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samsmart

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Eventually it will be, yes. But in the United States, I don't think we're quite there yet, technologically or financially. Finland can pull it off because they're a much smaller country with great infrastructure. The US has 60 times as many people and ****ty infrastructure.

A few months ago, Obama launched an initiative (I forget the name) to give all Americans access to broadband by 2020. While that seems like a ridiculously long time to me, I'm glad we are at least recognizing universal broadband as a worthy goal.
I would just like to point out that while I may feel that internet access is a fundamental right, that does not mean I necessarily agree that it is the government's job to provide universal internet access. After all, the U.S. has the right to free speech and free press, but government-provided news and media is nearly anathema in this country. Likewise, while the Constitution stipulates the right to bear arms, we do not have a nationalized firearm industry providing handguns and rifles to Americans.

So I guess the distinction I'm making is the difference between universal internet access and the opportunity for universal internet access. I'm much more in favor the latter than the former.
 
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Goobieman

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Most Finns (as well as many Americans) have a very different concept of rights than you do. No one is talking about it being synonymous with, say, freedom of speech.
When you classify something as a fundamental right, that's -exactly- what you are doing.

I'm not sure what you're asking. ALL of our rights exist only because the government created a law (or a constitutional amendment) giving them to us.
This is completely incorrect.
Rghts are not granted by government, privileges are. Nowhere in the constitution or in federal law are you granted the right to free speech, the right to arms, etc.
 

tacomancer

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Why do people continue to think that when they have a right to (x) they are entitled to the means to exercise their right to (x)?
Because I believe that a theory without real world functionality is useless.
 

Goobieman

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Because I believe that a theory without real world functionality is useless.
I see.
You then agree that since I am poor and cannot afford to buy one on my own, the government should force other people to provide to me the means to exercise my right to arms.
Great! There's this nifty DPMS .260 I've had my eyes on...

And, since you didnt respond...
To apply 'disenfranchised' to not having access to the internet is a massively huge stretch, especially given that while you have a right to vote, you are not disenfranchised by not having a ride to the voting booth.
 
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tacomancer

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I see.
You then agree that since I am poor and cannot afford to buy one on my own, the government should force other people to provide to me the means to exercise my right to arms.
Great! There's this nifty DPMS .260 I've had my eyes on...
No, because bearing arms could mean picking up a stick off the side of the street and there are very few people who could not find a weapon of some type, such as a crowbar or kitchen knife. The constitution does not specifically talk about guns.

And, since you didnt respond...
To apply 'disenfranchised' to not having access to the internet is a massively huge stretch, especially given that while you have a right to vote, you are not disenfranchised by not having a ride to the voting booth.
Well maybe I do, right now you can access government services in most cities through local offices or through some other means. I cannot think of a government agency that communicates solely through the internet.
However, in terms of voting, it is so important that rides should be offered.
 
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Gipper

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999 times out of 1,000 where someone asks "is this a right" I say no.

This is one of those 999 times. Along with health care. And a driver's license. And blah blah blah.
 

Goobieman

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No, because bearing arms could mean picking up a stick off the side of the street and there are very few people who could not find a weapon of some type, such as a crowbar or kitchen knife. The constitution does not specifically talk about guns.
Gee... how did I know that your response would be "oh, no, that's different".
:roll:

I don't agree.
That just means you are wrong.
 

tacomancer

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Gee... how did I know that your response would be "oh, no, that's different".
:roll:

That just means you are wrong.
You have your opinion and I have mine. Normally we tend to get in these long fights that don't go anywhere, so I will let you have the last say in this thread.
 

fredmertz

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I'm not sure what you're asking. ALL of our rights exist only because the government created a law (or a constitutional amendment) giving them to us. Maybe I could give a better answer if you explained which of our fundamental rights you don't think fall into that category.
I would say any 'fundamental' right exists because we live. That's how I define a fundamental right. A right that you have merely because you live. You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The government doesn't give these rights. It protects them. The government can protect your right to have internet, but it cannot 'give' it to you. So I counter-challenge you to explain how any fundamental right is given to us by the government. I cannot think of one.
 

tacomancer

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I would say any 'fundamental' right exists because we live. That's how I define a fundamental right. A right that you have merely because you live. You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The government doesn't give these rights. It protects them. The government can protect your right to have internet, but it cannot 'give' it to you. So I counter-challenge you to explain how any fundamental right is given to us by the government. I cannot think of one.
A person can derive their idea of rights from any source they please. In your case, I am guessing you are looking at it from the lense of 1700s enlightenment. However, ultimately, what a person can or cannot do is determined by law, not philosophy. You can say that government protects rights (which morally, could be a correct argument) and another person says that government gives rights (which legally, could be a correct argument) and ultimately, those two arguments have nothing to do with each other as I think you are talking about morality and Kandahar is talking about legality.
 
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