[governance] Cerfing the Web, or Serfing the Web? (Understanding Google's Internet Evangelism against Internet Access Rights)

Paul Lehto lehto.paul at gmail.com
Tue Jan 17 08:27:57 EST 2012

On Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 7:59 AM, McTim <dogwallah at gmail.com> wrote:

>   If we had a UN Summit (again) to declare
> Internet a Human Right, I fear such a Summit would go much further
> towards the IBSA model than would be useful.  In addition, I have
> always felt that Internet comes under the rubric of communication,
> which we already have as a HR.

*Just as we haven't needed a "Summit" to declare a specific "right of
property" in cyberspace, we do not require a "Summit" to find or declare
human rights of speech/communication and association, etc., as applied in
cyberspace.  *

Such declarations of rights on the Internet in a hypothetical Summit could
be *useful for clarity's sake*, just like the Bill of Rights in the USA as
the first ten amendments to the US Constitution was useful because it added
some clarity to the pre-existing rights of the people (but, pointedly, DID
NOT create those rights, as the 9th and 10th amendments with their
reservations of other rights in the people and the States, makes clear).

However, (*as you point out*) a hypothetical new Summit on Internet rights
could also result in a *de facto* retrenchment / reduction in rights, when
(and if) the actual language approved carves out exceptions that wouldn't
exist through the application of pre-existing but more general human rights
to the new context of the Internet.   Yet the very fact that you mention
this concern clearly implies what is indeed the case: *Human rights already
exist on the Internet*, but they are being contested by Vint Cerf/Google
and various others, and thus are subject to continuous expansion,
contraction and revision, fluctuating with public awareness of the issues
and court rulings, etc.

Question: Why would *humans* understand and support *property rights* on
the Internet, but not understand or support *human* *rights* on the

Answer:  Businesses *pay* humans to advocate for business property rights,
and to steer clear of advocating for human rights on the Internet except
where absolutely necessary or supportive of the business' bottom line.
Take away the voices (in our imagination) of those on the payroll of
various businesses, and there would be every bit, if not more, acceptance
of human rights on the Internet as there presently is for property rights
on the Internet.

And yet, conceptualizing property rights on the internet has definite
conceptual difficulties too, including but not limited to problems
associated with intangible property, extraterritorial application of (US,
often) law, and others.  These difficulties do not lead business
evangelists of the Internet to despair, or to give up on the project of a
radical expansion of property rights into cyberspace.

Paul Lehto, J.D.

Paul R Lehto, J.D.
P.O. Box 1
Ishpeming, MI  49849
lehto.paul at gmail.com
906-204-4026 (cell)
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