[governance] Access to the Internet and Human Rights

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Tue Jan 17 05:18:57 EST 2012

"Our money" is no more "ours" than "our language" somehow "belongs" to us as
Money is a social convention, backed up by a huge range of social values,
norms, practices, rules etc.etc.  Without all of those conventions money is
meaningless or at least is no more of value than the leaves on the trees
that it at times resembles.
 -----Original Message-----
From: governance at lists.cpsr.org [mailto:governance at lists.cpsr.org] On Behalf
Of Daniel Kalchev
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 1:43 AM
To: Paul Lehto
Cc: governance at lists.cpsr.org
Subject: Re: [governance] Access to the Internet and Human Rights

On Jan 16, 2012, at 10:33 PM, Paul Lehto wrote:

On Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 3:11 PM, Daniel Kalchev <daniel at digsys.bg> wrote:

Who is the "government" in your scenario, and "whose" money does it spend?

If it is legitimate government, then it is "our" government, spending "our"
money.  ("Our" is the grammatically parallel term for "We" as in "We the

If it is "our" money, then "we" get to say how those money are spent.

It is quite obvious, that although "Internet access" is sort of universal
service and that it is quite popular, it is far from everyone, who wants to
have Internet access. Internet access has already became huge industry and
"nationalizing" it is at least not practical -- however many Governments
dream of.

Your explanations strike an similarity between right to "internet access"
and "right to food". Now imagine, that we talk about food. Food, has always
been precious resource for humanity. Whoever has access to more food is
richer, can afford more etc. This is so, because everyone needs to feed and
do it regularly. 

Few thoughts about "food":

- fact is, every Government claims to provide "free food" for those in need.
- fact is, in every country, there are people starving. In few countries
those people are less, but they do exist.
- in all cases where there is "free food" provided it is of relatively
limited nature. If you are producer of food, you will not agree "government
money" (that is, your money) to be spent driving you out of business.
- whatever a Government provides, it has extremely high bureaucracy costs
- in most cases, it is not the government that provides free food, but
various groups of people (often called charitable societies). Those groups
buy or produce food with their own efforts, eventually convincing others to

Therefore, "free, Government provided access to <whatever>" is a myth.

There is of course, a "right" of everyone to access Internet and all the
good (and bad) things it can bring to their lives. This is the sole reason
we do build the Internet -- so that everyone can use it.

But I fail to see how Governments can help. For the known Internet history,
they have been more on the disruptive side of the equation.

Internet, by it's nature is not a monopoly. If your ISP does not like you,
it is your choice to select someone else. There is great competition to
provide Internet services and this is good for both you and for the ISP.

It is ironic, that you say "legitimate Government" is ok. It turns out, that
about the only parties identified so far to consider restrictions of
Internet access are Governments. All of them. For the sole purpose to
"defend" themselves from this phenomena they don't quite understand - the

Is the US Government legitimate? Then why does it want SOPA?


PS: Internet's "virality" has it's roots in the humans and the specific
property of Internet that allows everyone to participate. Governments got
the "participate" part and tried to restrict who builds Internet by
introducing all sorts of licensing schemes. Some declared victory at the
time, but now realize that this thing is not possible to control -- humans
will willingly participate in "illegal" (that is, not accepting to be
restricted by Government imposed licenses) activities -- for they want
access to Internet. If this is human rights, how come Governments do
everything possible to deny it?

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