Search Mailing List Archives


Limit search to: Subject & Body Subject Author
Sort by: Reverse Sort
Limit to: All This Week Last Week This Month Last Month
Select Date Range     through    

[liberationtech] Internet no human right, but what role for engineers?

Paul Bernal spiritualwolf at gmail.com
Fri Jan 6 07:28:18 PST 2012


I'm not an engineer, but I do have a few problems with Cerf's article - and I might write something about it.

First, and most importantly, I don't like the headline - he said a great deal more than 'internet access is not a human right'.

Secondly, I think he's got to be careful about not letting himself be used by those who'd like to restrict internet access and freedom: there are others with very dubious agendas who would like to push the 'internet access not a human right' point.

Thirdly, and this is perhaps the most contentious point, I think the point is reflecting a particularly US perspective on 'human rights' - a minimalist approach which emphasises civil and political rights and downplays (or even denies) economic and social rights. Most of the rest of the world takes a broader view of human rights, which is why large parts of the world do believe that internet access is a human right…

Anyway, that's my tuppence-worth for now. I don't disagree with most of the content of the piece, but I think it has the potential to be very much misinterpreted and misused.

Paul Bernal

Lecturer in Law
UEA Law School
Norwich
UK



On 6 Jan 2012, at 15:03, Graham Webster wrote:

> Libtechers,
> 
> I'm sure many if not most have at least seen the headline of Vint Cerf's op-ed in the New York Times: "Internet Access Is Not a Human Right."
> 
> http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/opinion/internet-access-is-not-a-human-right.html?_r=2
> 
> My question that comes out of it is what role for engineers is Cerf envisioning. He makes the rather mundane assertion that "engineers have not only a tremendous obligation to empower users, but also an obligation to ensure the safety of users online. That means, for example, protecting users from specific harms like viruses and worms that silently invade their computers. Technologists should work toward this end."
> 
> He also calls out the IEEE as an important organization. I'm just not convinced one way or another on the amount of influence engineers can have in shaping the human rights-supporting propensities of technology in the field. I think it's fair to say most people want technology's role to be broadly positive on the human rights map. People like Evgeny Morozov point out this doesn't always happen. And Cerf alludes to the fact that Internet access or the denial thereof can play a role in establishing or constricting human rights.
> 
> Is it even sensical to ask: What is the role of engineers, when their work is affected by market forces, governments, users, and other technological developments?
> 
> Graham
> 
> --
> gwbstr.com
> @gwbstr
> 
> _______________________________________________
> liberationtech mailing list
> liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu
> 
> Should you need to change your subscription options, please go to:
> 
> https://mailman.stanford.edu/mailman/listinfo/liberationtech
> 
> If you would like to receive a daily digest, click "yes" (once you click above) next to "would you like to receive list mail batched in a daily digest?"
> 
> You will need the user name and password you receive from the list moderator in monthly reminders.
> 
> Should you need immediate assistance, please contact the list moderator.
> 
> Please don't forget to follow us on http://twitter.com/#!/Liberationtech

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman.stanford.edu/pipermail/liberationtech/attachments/20120106/49112daa/attachment.html>


More information about the liberationtech mailing list