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Artechnica: FCC Republican says Internet isn't a necessity or a human right

Posted by Soledad Vega on Mon, 06/29/2015 - 09:27

The UN Declaration of Human Rights says human beings have the right to free expression, to culture, to equality, to life, liberty, and security. Without access to the web, it's increasingly hard to exercise these basic human rights, making connectivity itself a right by extension.

Article by Jon Brodkin for Arstechnica

Federal Communications Commission member Michael O’Rielly yesterday argued that "Internet access is not a necessity or human right" and called this one of the most important "principles for regulators to consider as it relates to the Internet and our broadband economy."

O'Rielly, one of two Republicans on the Democratic-majority commission, outlined his views in a speech before the Internet Innovation Alliance, a coalition of businesses and nonprofits (see transcript).

O'Rielly described five "governing principles" that regulators should rely on, including his argument that Internet access should not be considered a necessity. Here's what he said:

It is important to note that Internet access is not a necessity in the day-to-day lives of Americans and doesn’t even come close to the threshold to be considered a basic human right. I am not in any way trying to diminish the significance of the Internet in our daily lives. I recognized earlier how important it may be for individuals and society as a whole. But, people do a disservice by overstating its relevancy or stature in people’s lives. People can and do live without Internet access, and many lead very successful lives. Instead, the term “necessity” should be reserved to those items that humans cannot live without, such as food, shelter, and water.

It is even more ludicrous to compare Internet access to a basic human right. In fact, it is quite demeaning to do so in my opinion. Human rights are standards of behavior that are inherent in every human being. They are the core principles underpinning human interaction in society. These include liberty, due process or justice, and freedom of religious beliefs. I find little sympathy with efforts to try to equate Internet access with these higher, fundamental concepts. From a regulator’s perspective, it is important to recognize the difference between a necessity or a human right and goods such as access to the Internet. Avoiding the use of such rhetorical traps is wise.

- Read more at Arstechnica