[governance] Access to the Internet and Human Rights

Aldo Matteucci aldo.matteucci at gmail.com
Mon Jan 16 22:52:27 EST 2012


your write:

"If access to the internet is NOT a human right, then governments can
arbitrarily block access to the internet without due process of law of any

You seem to equate "human right" with "absolute and unfettered right".
No "right" is absolute and above the law (or jurisprudence),
if nothing else because it has to be balanced against equivalent rights.
(Due process is still another matter)
If I cry "fire" in a crowded theater and people die, I cannot argue
"freedom of speech".
Ordre public may be advanced to justify regulation
as well as protection of individual rights (piracy etc.). subject to
proportionality etc.

So your clamoring for a "absolute and unfettred right" is not going to take
you very far.

In the end technology will determine the outcome.
Internet was designed to be immune to interruption - both as a system, and
in any of its messages.
If a technology is found to obtain selective vetting, it will be in.
(Whether such a technology may become part of cybewar is an interesting,
yet separate issue).
The threat to shut down the system as a whole in order to obtain
selectivity might violate the principle of proportionality
but it will be effective, I'm afraid.

Note different strategies in advancing government intervention in the net:

   - protection of private ownership rights against privacy (US)
   - protection of private rights to be "left alone" (Europe)
   - ordre public (India and China)

Note also two things:

   - in all likelihood the providers will be asked to operate the filters,
   making "due process" a scam
   - The vetting technology will not be transparent, making it difficult to
   understand what is going on.

Personally I consider "virality" of the net to be the greatest challenge.

The recent India case is telling. Whether there are offending images on the
net is immaterial. Just believing that they are somewhere may trigger
virality, with very real consequences (remember Orson Welles' War of the
Worlds) justying ordre public concerns. Here the very people who want to
control the net use its viral property to great effect - what irony.

Virality is regulated on the Stock exchange: stocks going viral are taken
out. No one complains, so you'd have a hard case arguing "absolute and
unfettered right".

The sooner we come to grips with "virality", the quicker we can advance in
preserving the net's basic features.

Piracy is more of an IP issue than a net issue. Patentsand copyrights were
meant to be incentives, not monopolies. A balance needs to be found. What
piracy does it to cap, not to destroy the incentive.

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