Although some countries around the world argue that Internet access is a fundamental right, one of the “fathers of the Internet,” Vint Cerf, doesn’t see it that way.
“Technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself,” Cerf, who is also a Google’s chief Internet evangelist, wrote yesterday in an editorial in The New York Times. “There is a high bar for something to be considered a human right. Loosely put, it must be among the things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things.”
But no longer individuals are so quick to agree. In 2009, Finland announced that it was making one-megabit broadband a felony right, and plans to make one hundred-megabit broadband a proper by way of the tip of 2015. That united states of america’s determination got here simply months after France announced that internet access is elementary human right.
the similar yr, the eu Union’s ecu fee vp Viviane Reding wrote to the ecu Parliament, pronouncing that internet get right of entry to isn’t any different than different elementary freedoms we worth.
“The new rules recognise explicitly that Internet access is a fundamental right such as the freedom of expression and the freedom to access information,” Reding wrote at the time. “The rules therefore provide that any measures taken regarding access to, or use of, services and applications must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, including the right to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information and education as well as due process.”
But most likely Reding and people who agree with her are lacking the point. in line with Cerf, the actual factor at play around the internet isn’t get admission to, which is simply too tricky to outline to make the appropriate’s implementation practical, but how era creators use the internet to help customers exercise their human and civil rights.
“In this context, engineers have not only a tremendous obligation to empower users, but also an obligation to ensure the safety of users online,” Cerf argues. “That means, for example, protecting users from specific harms like viruses and worms that silently invade their computers. Technologists should work toward this end.”
It’s perhaps no surprise that an employee at Google–a company that has made “don’t be evil” its mantra–would want to see the Internet become safer. But it’s something that Google, itself, has a stake in. The company has a slew of engineers on its payroll, which means, according to Cerf, their jobs should encompass “civil responsibilities.”
Speaking of civil rights, Cerf made headlines last month, as smartly, when he wrote a letter to the U.S. house Judiciary Committee, arguing that the stop online Piracy Act (SOPA), which, if authorized, would permit the Justice department to swiftly get rid of web sites from the internet that allegedly include pirated content material, could usher in unheard of censorship of the web.
“SOPA’s site-blocking provisions remain problematic,” Cerf wrote. “They would undermine the architecture of the Internet and obstruct the 15-year effort by the public and private sectors to improve cybersecurity through implementation of DNSSEC, a critical set of extensions designed to address security vulnerabilities in the DNS.”