New ethical dilemmas: Is internet access our common right?


The internet is utilized for many activities: shopping, communication, education, job searching, entertainment and more. But does this make internet access a human right? 

Many seem to believe that it does, in fact, linking internet access to being the greatest source of knowledge, and thus, by default humans should have the right to access it. Others highlight the fact that internet access is not a human right in “less-developed societies,” and thus, only in countries similar to that of the United States, where it is essential in order to “enact (in) meaningful ... free debate” as a means of political, democratic involvement, it is a “basic” and “inherent right,” said Rutgers Senator Oluwatobi Omotoso. 

There is no doubt that the ability to acquire knowledge through the web is indeed important and as some might say vital, but, dubbing internet access as a human right is a bit of a stretch, to say the least. 

This does not mean that the internet should be blocked or access prevented to any individual, but it should not be guaranteed. No individual should be given a free device with access to the internet, on the grounds that such a luxury is a human right. 

This act would be synonymous with creating a highway straight from every town in the United States into all the major cities based on the fact that access to a city and all its offerings is a human right. One can argue free transportation, whether that be a car or any other means of travel, is a human right, and thus should be guaranteed. 

Let’s consider bandwidth. Is 5G a human right? Is the access and utilization of 5G unfair and unjust toward the person with 3G? Where would this stop? 

One can make arguments that various aspects of life are human rights — but that does not make them reasonable. There is a difference between skill, information and what is needed to take part in our democracy and the mindset of "anything goes."

As with access to education, many cut class, drop out of high school and choose not to go to college despite some people’s outlook of education as a right. If one needs or desires access to internet, they are able to attain it, as with education, all that is needed is an effort on the individual’s part to become privy to it. There is a right to have the ability to access the internet in certain regard, but not to be given it nor guaranteed it. 

Just because one buys insurance for their car, it does not mean to say that the car owner will be involved in a crash and will avail themselves of the insurance at any point in time. Access to the internet does not correlate to a citizen using the internet for certain. 

In short, access to the web should be available if an individual finds themselves so inclined to make use of it. 

If an individual yearns to access the web and they can't afford internet connection nor a device to access it, there are various outlets available of which no citizen is prevented from utilizing. These channels include a local UPS or FedEx store, a local library, a community center, a fitness center, a cafe or restaurant, an office space or a friend or relative’s house. 

These places serve as platforms where WiFi is free of charge or the ability to access a computer or other device is available to all. There is no issue or preventative measures toward internet access. 

Access to the web is not a human right, but that does not make the prevention from accessing it just or lawful, which in the case of the United States isn’t the case. 

One can't guarantee internet access to all people, but if a citizen wants access they should have the means to do so and carry out that wish. 


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