New Digital Era

Internet is a de facto human right

Radical new times demand a revision of the most important laws

On 2021-01-14 by ngc6302

Over the last 25 years, what started as a project to communicate militar and scientific computers, has grown from something that was a mere communication system to the backbone of society on its whole. Now virtually every process, let it be government related like tax filling or scholarship request, cultural or commercial is done on the internet. Modern life is not imaginable without it, and like it or not, has become a substantial part of ourselves. We get information with the internet, we create new information and broadcast it with the internet, and we debate existing information on the internet.

The internet is now the way to be in contact with other people. Sure, you could send letters. Sure, you could go and talk to others in person. But why do that when something like the internet exists?

There are now people that demand that certain people should be removed from the internet because they are saying uncomfortable things for them. They say, when told that free speech is a thing, that "internet is not a human right". And they are right. Yet. Because internet must be categorized as a human right. Everybody knows life as we know it today is unimaginable without the internet, otherwise it would regress to old 1900s style, which would pose a disadvantage and maybe even danger for the person without access to it. Think of telephones. Having a number line is not a human right yet every phone on earth will be able to contact emergency lines without a phone line. If the same people wanting internet service providers to stop offering service to some person they don't like, for whatever reason, this person could be in serious danger in the case they need to call the emergency services for a life threatening situation.

This was an argument supported by the fact the internet has become a large part of our lives. Here is another argument: imagine a town. In this town, there are streets, and in each street there are buildings. Now imagine you are inside the house of someone and you are talking to him. Suddently, you say something he doesn't like. He's very angry and wants you to shut up and leave. But it's not enough that you shut up and leave his house, he also demands that all other neighbours on the street mustn't allow you to enter or talk in the street. But that isn't enough for him, he also wants that all other people from the rest of the streets in town don't let you talk in other streets too. You Suddently find that you can't do anything in town, and are forced to leave. You can't buy stuff in the stores or use commercial services like a barber shop, because no one will offer you service. See the analogy? Each house is a webpage, like twitter.com. The streets are internet infrastructure providers, like ISPs, hosting or domain name registration services. The town is the internet as a whole.

Of course, if you are a cynical you might think "this is bullshit, you can still live and do everything whithout the internet. It's not like physical stores don't exist anymore and you have to buy online, or you can't watch the news on the TV to be informed and know who to vote. If you don't want to be deplataformed, don't say stuff I don't like!", but then I ask you: would you, honestly, think a life like that is worth? Specially now, that everything is accelerating towards the internet and digital life. You might be able to live now, but 30 years into the future it might be survive. Banning someone from talking on the internet as a whole, I don't mean a website, is taking someone's freedom of speech, the same way it is as banning someone from speaking in the street. The internet, the digital space is no less real than the physical space just because it can only be accesed with a machine, and as such must obey to the same rules as the physical world, and that includes freedom of speech. You don't like what I say? That's fine, you can ban me from your website, but you have no right to ban me from creating me own, or to demand other website operators to ban me from their website. Or else you are an authoritarian and there is nothing more to say.