The digital age of rights

The digital age of rights

Earlier this month Vivian Reding, the European Commissioner responsible for Information Society and Media, spoke of “a right to Internet access” and pointed out that the EU’s new telecommunications rules “recognise explicitly that Internet access is a fundamental right such as the freedom of expression and the freedom to access information”.

But if the argument against extra-judicial disconnection is so strong then surely a policy that lets network service providers keep millions of people from having a usable, fast and reliable connection to the internet must also be morally indefensible?

If it is unacceptable to cut people off from the network because their actions are commercially damaging to the record companies, why is it acceptable to offer them poor or no access to broadband and mobile internet just because providing the service is commercially unattractive to ISPs or network operators?

And if we are to be encouraged to think of access to the internet as a fundamental human right, a prerequisite of having freedom of expression, should we not be prosecuting ISPs over the ‘notspots’ in their mobile or wi-fi coverage, the communities with no access to ADSL because of the telephone network was repaired with aluminium instead of copper, or the areas bypassed by the cable providers?

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