Computer scientist Vinton Gray "Vint" Cerf, recognized the world over as one of two "fathers of the internet," has this week contended that it's not technology or even the internet that should be considered a human right, instead simply categorizing them as tools to work with such basic rights as communication. "Technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself," he noted, taking the position that if we continue to broaden what it means to have a human right as including technology, that we'll not put enough faith and/or pressure on the technology industry and the engineers responsible for ensuring universal, safe internet access for us all to do so.
When someone like Vint speaks up on a matter of such importance as this, it's time to listen up. A fellow with such insight as to have seen that developments like TCP/IP were needed in order to bring the internet about is certainly one whose opinions on that network are to be considered. Thats why when he speaks the following, the government, too, should be turning their earphones and eyeballs up:
“Technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself. There is a high bar for something to be considered a human right. Loosely put, it must be among the things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things. … Improving the Internet is just one means, albeit an important one, by which to improve the human condition. It must be done with an appreciation for the civil and human rights that deserve protection – without pretending that access itself is such a right." - Cerf
What do you think, folks, is it the job of one party or the other to provide access to the rest of the world for citizens such as you and I through technology such as the internet? Does it make sense to put such a responsibility in the hands of the technology industry instead of the government? Not that you'd want to have to bring yourself to truly trust either body of action, but how do you expect anyone to charge someone with denying you your right to communicate on any level?
[via The New York Times]