1st world problems. As useful as it is, it is a luxury.
My first guess? For the same reason why the House Science Committee is packed with creationists and AGW deniers.
The creationists want to be on the science committees so they can de-fund any spending on actual science. I wouldn’t be surprised if the FCC leadership positions attracted the same kinds of crackpots and shills for the same reasons.
Here’s the issue - internet access was not a necessity a few years ago. Today it absolutely is. Because not only business but governments have switched over to exclusively using the internet to provide access to services.
Healthcare records are required to be available online, but a per page charge is assessed if they are requested on paper.
Sit through a couple of hours on a federal agency’s phone tree advising you to find what you need on their website every 45 seconds. Only to be disconnected when someone finally answers the phone.
Great effort has been made to ensure that the ONLY way to access support for pretty much everything from health insurance to social security to your gas bill is via the internet.
At that point, internet access ceased to be a luxury or convenience and became a necessity. A utility. Those who have limited access to the internet have equally limited access to required services.
The only people for whom internet access remains a luxury are those who can afford to have others access it on their behalf.
Of course not, neither are shoes, you can live without shoes, sure, its hard at first, but you’ll develop callouses with time.
You don’t need cars either.
You don’t need air conditioning.
You don’t need a lot of things that make your life better in every way.
By being pedantic, you’ve overstated your point.
It’s true that the internet is not a basic human right. Almost none of us had the internet before about 1990 and yet most of us had human rights in the 1980’s. It might be necessary to have access to the internet to live effectively in the USA.
Not having access to the Internet is the most modern way of reinforcing the cycle of poverty and preventing class mobility.
Every person living in the USA should have free access to food, healthcare, an education, a living wage (in exchange for nothing) in addition to Internet access (among other things). There’s plenty of money to pay for this if we tear down the military-industrial complex, the oligarchy, and the insane tax/wage laws.
Free internet for everybody!
It is these days. Fuck you, Mike.
I share your discomfort.
The Vint Cerf quote at the end of the article argued that “technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself…”
You may have the freedom to say anything you want, but if you are in solitary confinement, then you do not have freedom of speech. If you are excluded from the online community of your peers, then your freedom of speech is hampered. This should be seen as a potential violation of your human rights, and it should trigger the debate. It would be a violation of rights if a particular community or genotype were excluded from the internet. It would probably not be a violation of rights if you did not pay your telco bill. There is debate whether the spread of internet access within the US is happening in a timely fashion, or whether certain districts may be unfairly kept off the net. All this can be debated in terms of freedom of speech as a basic human right. There is no need to extend human rights to specifically include access to the internet, the telephone, the post-office, Facebook, Twitter and so on; for they should be already included, and so should any future technologies of this kind.
It feels to me many people here had already decided the person was a bad man by line two, and read no more. Maybe he is a bad man. But there is a sensible argument here, and it should not necessarily end in “Well let’s take away your internet and see how you like it”.
It’s semantics at the expense of intellectual honesty. Internet access is obviously a necessity and prerequisite to be a functional member of the U.S. society in 2015. An IRL approximation would be to say that access to roads/sidewalks are not a necessity. No? Let’s take away your roads/sidewalks/internet and see how you like it.
Okay, so how much internet does someone have a right to?
I live in a semi-rural area about 1/3 mile from the nearest main road along which the hard wires travel. And my local telco and cable company have both told me, albeit politely, that there will never be wired broadband by them to my house. Never.
I’m typing this post via a wireless ISP which piggybacks off a nearby Sprint 3G tower. It’s close to $100 a month for a connection that varies between 800kb and 2Mb. My only alternative would be a wireless Verizon plan which would give me maybe 3Mb but with a 20G cap.
Some of my neighbors have no internet, because they can’t afford this kind of outlay. I’ve gotten online and made contacts for them from time to time when they have no other options.
Do I have a “right” to better or cheaper internet, for which someone else would have to pay? And if I don’t, do my neighbors? Does the fact that we have chosen to live in the boonies make a difference??
I think that phones are key to why the FCC guy is resisting universal internet access. He is trying to resist funding access for the poor via a universal connectivity charge like we have for phones. Also, build-out to less profitable rural areas.
I love it…these assholes keep shooting themselves in the foot… don’t they realize there’s an election coming up? They just keep giving us more and more voting lessons…
Let’s hope that at least a few Americans are paying attention to these lessons…
If he’s right, then why do public schools and public libraries both provide the “unnecessary luxury” of Internet access? You know what else isn’t a human right? Being corrupt and able to walk around a free man.
My children can’t turn their homework in to their teachers without using the internet. A lot of jobs can only be found or applied for on the internet.
It’s a basic part of life now, not a luxury.
Maybe I’m conflating having a personal internet connection with being able to access the internet for free by some means when I need to, e.g. at a library
I can’t (easily) take my kids to school without a car, but I don’t view having a car as a basic human right. I’m sure Ford and Toyota, etc. would love it if we did declare that owning a car was a basic human right, but I’m not sure that it is.
Not being subject to torture, arbitrary arrest, being given due process by the courts, being able to get fresh water and food, being able to inoculate kids against preventable childhood diseases, those are what I imagine when people say ‘human rights’. If the ISP goes down one evening I’m annoyed but I don’t seriously believe my human rights have been violated.
It could make for an interesting world if we treated internet access as a basic human right; then presumably the state would have to provide a basic internet service free to all citizens and foreign visitors, jailed convicts, etc. Now we know what to lobby for the 28th amendment
I dunno, seems like the US has tackled this kind of problem before and handled it fairly even handedly. Look at telco taxes for twisted pairs for customers exactly like yourself.
Human right? Yeah, a bit of hyperbole there. Pretty fscking important? Yeah, I’d say so. So add a buck a month to my bill in federal taxes to fund rural development of broadband.
You should have the right to connect your own equipment to the nearest practical wire/fiber endpoint, build a tower (if a structure is not already present) without undue additional costs and interference, and install your own point-to-point directional link.
I can see you and your neighbors forming a “micro-ISP”, a co-op of sorts.
You should have the right to do this without paperwork, the ISPs should be obligated to either lay down wires to your area or sell you a rack shelf (or a chunk of space behind some cabinet to which the needed electronics box can be thrown into) and the bandwidth for non-extortionary price and let you provide the access hardware.
Directional microwave links are cheap these days. I am on such one (because this fucking valley got quite underserved, telco-wise, couple years ago), hardware cost quite below $1000 total for both ends.
Force the telcos to be mandated to sell connectivity to small, regional micro-ISPs. This little thing itself can alleviate a lot of problems.
Or better yet take it from his children, and their privileged school, and then see if he thinks internet access is not an important right.
Exactly! A 50 year old man who is already established in a career that does not require anything more than basic computer skills can survive without internet access. A school age child who does not have internet access is doomed to a life of poverty and struggle.
Decent argument? It’s a red herring at best. The Internet is an economic necessity now. Business that don’t have it are at a crippling disadvantages, and people in the U.S. that don’t have it have 2 1/2 strikes against them when looking at a job.
No, it’s not a good argument at all.