Is Internet Access a Human Right? Reflections in the Wake of the Egyptian Protests

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Is access to the Internet a universal human right that should be recognized by the United Nations? *This*question,*buzzing around the world this week, is certainly one that I hadn’t thought of at length until now, so I posed it to … http://virtualnavigator.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/is-internet-access-a-human-right-reflections-in-the-wake-of-the-egyptian-protests/" [Broken]http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=virtualnavigator.wordpress.com&blog=11498882&post=503&subd=virtualnavigator&ref=&feed=1

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  • #2
Evo
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That's like asking if a telephone, cell phones, radio, tv, etc... is a human right. I say no.
 
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  • #3
waht
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Why not save a step and say that the internet is something that is and will continue to be. No need for absolutism here.

The internet has potential to provide the ultimate form of communication between people and as a result it can keep governments at bay.

The question is should governments control and manipulate the internet as a propaganda tool?
 
  • #4
Pengwuino
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No it is not a human right. No one has to pay $50/month for a human right. Especially something that is purely commercial.
 
  • #5
WhoWee
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I would say internet access is not a human right - reminds me of this story.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110203/us_nm/us_manson_cell [Broken]

"Mass murderer Charles Manson was caught with a cell phone behind bars for the second time in two years, a California prison official said on Wednesday.

The state bars mobile phones for all inmates, out of a concern they could use the devices to mastermind crimes in the outside world, or arrange attacks on inmates or guards."


It's legal for anyone to purchase a car - only responsible drivers are permitted to drive.
 
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  • #6
brainstorm
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The infrastructure for the communication lines that carry internet signals have to be built and maintained. I don't see why it shouldn't be a right for people to have equal access to the infrastructure based on economic rationality. For example, if someone wants to build their own line to connect to a public server, why shouldn't they be allowed to do that? If that's not feasible, then why wouldn't it make sense to regulate the lines as a public monopoly/good and have public accountability for pricing and spending, as with other public utilities?

Still, I don't get how some servers are connected on a public network while others are private intranets. Why does a cable company get to connect to the internet for free but its clients have to pay the cable company? Why can't clients directly connect to the internet the same way the cable company does?
 
  • #7
Evo
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For example, if someone wants to build their own line to connect to a public server, why shouldn't they be allowed to do that? If that's not feasible, then why wouldn't it make sense to regulate the lines as a public monopoly/good and have public accountability for pricing and spending, as with other public utilities?
I don't know what you think a 'public" server" is, but I'm sure it's not what you think.

Still, I don't get how some servers are connected on a public network while others are private intranets.
A private intranet is simply a private data network, often leased by companies to keep their data off of the public internet.

Why does a cable company get to connect to the internet for free but its clients have to pay the cable company? Why can't clients directly connect to the internet the same way the cable company does?
Cable companies do not get to connect to the internet for free.
 
  • #8
Pinu7
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If the users payed for it, the government is out of line for taking it away.
 
  • #9
Evo
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If the users payed for it, the government is out of line for taking it away.
In many countries the Government owns the telephone company which is also the internet provider. The government pays for it, the subscribers are...just subscribers. They have no say over if the service stays up.

Even if it is a private company, they provide service according to what the government allows.

When you have a country like Egypt with 4 internet/cell phone operators, it is very easy to shut off service, of course they can be cut. The fact that people have become addicted to them, does not make them a right.

MPLS can be dynamically re-routed around a cut, but the entire network can be compromised quickly.

Intranets can connect to extranets and form an internet link open to outside users. Basically, the more competition, the harder it is to shut down.

Phones, cell phones, internet, mail service, package delivery, radio, tv, etc..., these are services and conveniences.

Trying to shut down internet access would be much more difficult in the US. Thousands of companies own international private lines, which are almost impossible to shut down, that is where the strength lies, although they are being replaced by cheaper MPLS, . Internet carried via frame relay and MPLS can be shut off with a computer command. So can the internet that is not private line based. Satellites can be interfered with.

I'd say land lines are pretty secure. That is how some info out of Egypt was getting out at first.
 
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  • #10
brainstorm
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I don't know what you think a 'public" server" is, but I'm sure it's not what you think.
It must not be because years ago I heard that the internet consisted of numerous private servers that were voluntarily connected as hubs for html transmissions. Supposedly the signal automatically atomized and routed itself in the most efficient way through the network, with different parts of the signal taking different routes through different servers if necessary.

I suppose it makes sense that server-controllers would charge connection fees to other server-controllers, though I don't know what factors would determine the price? If you have a very large rural area with just a few clients, would you have to pay the same price as a server in a dense urban area with loads of clients to share the cost?

A private intranet is simply a private data network, often leased by companies to keep their data off of the public internet.
I wasn't talking about a closed network. I just meant a server-operator that controlled a subnetwork of connections among its clients and provided them access to the rest of the internet.

Cable companies do not get to connect to the internet for free.
But who do they have to pay then? They don't pay every server they connect with in the process of routing information around globally, do they? Do they pay every server they connect with directly? Who owns the big fiber optic lines (are those still called T1?)?

Are the money-hungry of the world to the point of shutting down the internet until they get GDP growth up to target levels? If so, that will be a rough ride. Of course, I shouldn't complain since there are plenty of people, presumably, who have already been priced out of being able to afford an internet connection.
 
  • #11
JaredJames
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In the UK, BT owns the entire infrastructure. All other companies rent the lines off them and only BT are allowed to conduct work on the lines.

For example, we're with TalkTalk, but it's BT who come out to fix any problems relating to the line.

Now, BT is a private company and not run by the government. But, the government has imposed a set of rules on them. One of them is that every person in the UK has the right to basic telephone services. If you want to read all the rules, the following page tells you all you need to know and is from the regulator themselves (Oftel):

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/oftel/publications/consumer/consguides/cons0602.htm

However, that is as far as your rights go. They do not have to provide you with free phone calls (emergencies aside), nor do they have to provide you with internet access. These are additional services, provided to you at your own expense.
 
  • #12
JaredJames
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It must not be because years ago I heard that the internet consisted of numerous private servers that were voluntarily connected as hubs for html transmissions. Supposedly the signal automatically atomized and routed itself in the most efficient way through the network, with different parts of the signal taking different routes through different servers if necessary.

I suppose it makes sense that server-controllers would charge connection fees to other server-controllers, though I don't know what factors would determine the price? If you have a very large rural area with just a few clients, would you have to pay the same price as a server in a dense urban area with loads of clients to share the cost?

But who do they have to pay then? They don't pay every server they connect with in the process of routing information around globally, do they? Do they pay every server they connect with directly? Who owns the big fiber optic lines (are those still called T1?)?

Are the money-hungry of the world to the point of shutting down the internet until they get GDP growth up to target levels? If so, that will be a rough ride. Of course, I shouldn't complain since there are plenty of people, presumably, who have already been priced out of being able to afford an internet connection.

You don't know how the internet works do you?

People (companies, government etc) pay for hosting, that is who pays the servers. The public (and those companies, governement etc) then pay separately (this is your internet connection charge and line rental) for the technology to access these servers. You pay for the infrastructure that connects them all.

It's not as straight forward as you are making out.
 
  • #13
brainstorm
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When you have a country like Egypt with 4 internet/cell phone operators, it is very easy to shut off service, of course they can be cut. The fact that people have become addicted to them, does not make them a right.
Maybe not, but it makes them questionable as a legitimate free market commodity if addiction is a serious factor in mitigating consumers' freedom of choice, doen't it?

Still, the issue isn't the service, is it? It's access to the frequencies. Should there be free market competition in building antennae? Should there be a public monopoly that provides free cell-phone service like a library lends out books (that's a weak analogy, I know)?
 
  • #14
JaredJames
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Still, the issue isn't the service, is it? It's access to the frequencies. Should there be free market competition in building antennae? Should there be a public monopoly that provides free cell-phone service like a library lends out books (that's a weak analogy, I know)?

Who pays for it? It's not cheap to run/maintain. There's a reason companies are trying to put off upgrading the services to accommodate higher data usage with the new smart phones.

I think it's important to point out that any mobile, sim card or not (registered or not), can make emergency calls (for free). It is a legal requirement. Even in areas where you can't use your phone due to poor signal, some emergency calls can be made. My mobile operator can cut me off for not paying a bill, but they can't stop me ringing 999. I have a right to access to emergency services, but not to free phone calls.
 
  • #15
brainstorm
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You don't know how the internet works do you?
Thanks to this thread, I'm learning.

People (companies, government etc) pay for hosting, that is who pays the servers. The public (and those companies, governement etc) then pay separately (this is your internet connection charge and line rental) for the technology to access these servers. You pay for the infrastructure that connects them all.
So if I want to invest in a network hub server, I can bid a price to local internet providers and they will pay me if I'm competitively priced and reliable? How would I then connect with other hubs? Would I have to own physical lines between my server and other hub servers?
 
  • #16
russ_watters
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The infrastructure for the communication lines that carry internet signals have to be built and maintained. I don't see why it shouldn't be a right for people to have equal access to the infrastructure based on economic rationality. For example, if someone wants to build their own line to connect to a public server, why shouldn't they be allowed to do that?
I don't think that's what is meant by 'a right to internet access'. Similar to the 'right to healthcare' that is popular today, the idea isn't that you have the freedom to get it yourself, but rather that the government must provide it for you. What you describe is covered under anti-descrimination law.
If that's not feasible, then why wouldn't it make sense to regulate the lines as a public monopoly/good and have public accountability for pricing and spending, as with other public utilities?
That's fine, but electric power is not a right. You have to pay for it.....


....Errrrr......REBOOT!!

When I first saw this thread, I thought it pretty obvious that internet access isn't a right, like others did - so I didn't see any need to add to something I agreed with. But now I realize there is a flaw in that logic. The problem is with the recently perverted definition of "rights" that has me knee-jerk reacting against it. People argue that healthcare is a right, by which they mean the government must provide it for them. But that's not what it means for something to be a "right". To be a right - by the definition used for the past few hundred years - only means the government can't take it from you.

Cell phone networks and the Internet today are for the most part privately owned and sold to the public as a service - I can only assume they are in Egypt as well. Under the traditional definition, then, the government is not entitled to arbitrarily deprive you of the right to purchase goods and services.

However, a revolution is by definition an illegal act. It's the citizens overthrowing the government. The government then does what it needs to do to preserve itself: Martial law infringes on a lot of rights.

So to sum up: legal commerce - and therefore internet access - is a right. However in a revolution, everyone is breaking the law (the people and the government), so the concept of "rights" basically goes out the window.
 
  • #17
Evo
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Thanks to this thread, I'm learning.


So if I want to invest in a network hub server, I can bid a price to local internet providers and they will pay me if I'm competitively priced and reliable? How would I then connect with other hubs? Would I have to own physical lines between my server and other hub servers?
It's very complex and exepensive. In order to peer, you need to meet some hefty requirements.
 
  • #18
JaredJames
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So if I want to invest in a network hub server, I can bid a price to local internet providers and they will pay me if I'm competitively priced and reliable? How would I then connect with other hubs? Would I have to own physical lines between my server and other hub servers?

Well for the UK, you never own your own lines unless you have them specifically installed.

Now I've never come across a "network hub server" before, we have network hubs and we have network servers. Perhaps someone else here can cover this with you.

Again for the UK, we have three major hubs I believe, all owned by BT.

Servers are owned privately and just hook up to the network with an IP address to them allowing you to connect (there's a fair bit more involved than that though). You don't get paid to host it, you pay an ISP to let you connect to the internet with it. Server hosts make money by charging people to use their servers to put their websites on.
 
  • #19
JaredJames
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To be a right - by the definition used for the past few hundred years - only means the government can't take it from you.

Agreed.
Cell phone networks and the Internet today are for the most part privately owned and sold to the public as a service - I can only assume they are in Egypt as well. Under the traditional definition, then, the government is not entitled to arbitrarily deprive you of the right to purchase goods and services.

The question is, where does private and public merge?

We have undersea cables connecting us all over the world. Who owns them?

The private sector may own and control the internal infrastructure - the government can't stop you buying/accessing that - but if the government owns the connections out of the country they can certainly stop you using them. By cutting you off from everything outside your country (particularly somewhere like Egypt where little is internal so far as site hosting goes) you kill the internet to that country, without killing the internal networks.

I've seen the graph of network activity to and from Egypt since the switch off, but it would be interesting to compare the send/receive of the country to the world with the send/receive of the internal networks. I may not be able to connect my PS3 to the servers and play with some Europeans, but I could still have a LAN party with my friends down the street. That sort of thing.
 
  • #20
Evo
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russ said:
Under the traditional definition, then, the government is not entitled to arbitrarily deprive you of the right to purchase goods and services.
So the government has an obligation to furnish me with chili cheese dogs?
 
  • #21
JaredJames
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So the government has an obligation to furnish me with chili cheese dogs?

:rofl:

They can't stop you buying them, but they don't have to provide you with them is what I think russ was saying.
 
  • #22
Evo
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:rofl:

They can't stop you buying them, but they don't have to provide you with them is what I think russ was saying.
Well, then that's what we've been saying.
 
  • #23
russ_watters
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:rofl:

They can't stop you buying them, but they don't have to provide you with them is what I think russ was saying.
Yes.

Using the assumption that the service operates similar to the way it does in the US, the public had internet access a few weeks ago, provided by mostly private service companies. Perhaps as well, the government owned some of the infrastructure - in the US, the government doesn't own the power lines, but it does own the roads. But it owns the roads only as a convenience. That shouldn't be interpreted to mean roads are a government-provided entitlement. When the revolution started, the government changed the rules and cut off that infrastructure.

I'm not saying its right or wrong, I'm just saying it happened.
 
  • #24
brainstorm
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I don't think that's what is meant by 'a right to internet access'. Similar to the 'right to healthcare' that is popular today, the idea isn't that you have the freedom to get it yourself, but rather that the government must provide it for you. What you describe is covered under anti-descrimination law. That's fine, but electric power is not a right. You have to pay for it.....
But when the service is provided by monopoly, you have the right not to be exploited. Competitive markets supposedly protect consumers against abusive pricing and contracts, which is why monopolies are supposed to be publicly regulated; i.e. to prevent exploitation of the monopoly position.

People argue that healthcare is a right, by which they mean the government must provide it for them. But that's not what it means for something to be a "right". To be a right - by the definition used for the past few hundred years - only means the government can't take it from you.
So how does that apply to the right to a speedy and public trial by jury? What about the right to be notified of charges against you or the right to a public defender?

Cell phone networks and the Internet today are for the most part privately owned and sold to the public as a service - I can only assume they are in Egypt as well. Under the traditional definition, then, the government is not entitled to arbitrarily deprive you of the right to purchase goods and services.
But are the providers entitled to exploit you in the provision of services?

However, a revolution is by definition an illegal act. It's the citizens overthrowing the government. The government then does what it needs to do to preserve itself: Martial law infringes on a lot of rights.
That would make the U.S. revolutionary war an illegal act and the U.S. should be returned to its colonial owners, no? It was my impression that people have the right to overthrow a government by the least violent/destructive means possible. If the government refuses to be accountable to reasonable standards of legitimacy, what other option would you have but to overthrow it?

So to sum up: legal commerce - and therefore internet access - is a right. However in a revolution, everyone is breaking the law (the people and the government), so the concept of "rights" basically goes out the window.
Nonsense. You think that if a revolution is going on, people have no duty to respect each others' rights? If you classify the situation as a war, people still can argue wartime rights. Besides, who says that there aren't certain universal rights that are independent of revolution or any other social state of affairs?
 
  • #25
brainstorm
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So the government has an obligation to furnish me with chili cheese dogs?
Not some food in particular, but if a government has the means to provide people with food who would otherwise suffer from malnutrition, why wouldn't the government have the responsibility to provide that food? If a doctor is confronted with a dying person, do they have the right to let the person die? No, they took an oath to save life whenever possible. So why shouldn't a government have the same responsibility to fulfill basic needs when it has the means to do so?

Now, you can still argue that internet isn't a basic need the way food and water are, but the question is whether government may deny support of internet service as a means to levy general censorship of free speech. It seems to me that any democratic government has the responsibility to provide some form of access to public discourse for all citizens. Otherwise, how can individuals have equal access to voicing their views publicly? Stand on a soapbox in public? At this point in online-discourse, I would personally find it curtailment of my democratic participation to have internet access unavailable. How many users of online forums wouldn't?
 
  • #26
JaredJames
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So how does that apply to the right to a speedy and public trial by jury? What about the right to be notified of charges against you or the right to a public defender?

Of course it does, it means the government can't stop those things happening. You have a right to them and the government can't take them away.
But are the providers entitled to exploit you in the provision of services?

Yes, they can charge what they like. That's the whole point of having a number of companies - competition prevents you being over charged and exploited. If you only have the one you get a monopoly - which is where regulation comes in.
That would make the U.S. revolutionary war an illegal act and the U.S. should be returned to its colonial owners, no? It was my impression that people have the right to overthrow a government by the least violent/destructive means possible. If the government refuses to be accountable to reasonable standards of legitimacy, what other option would you have but to overthrow it?

It was an illegal act. That has nothing to do with it not being returned to the "colonial owners".
Nonsense. You think that if a revolution is going on, people have no duty to respect each others' rights? If you classify the situation as a war, people still can argue wartime rights. Besides, who says that there aren't certain universal rights that are independent of revolution or any other social state of affairs?

That is a very naively written paragraph. In war, there are absolutely no rights. We only have "war rights" now because the powers that be gave them to us. The rules of war only exist because those in power said they should.

If you remove those who rule and grant said rules / rights, you get rid of the rules / rights too.

Here's an example, in the past the order to "give no quarter" could be issued. It meant to kill all those you come across, not sparing anyone. Now however, it is illegal to issue that order - because the powerful nations agreed it should be.

If those nations are no longer there with their armies to enforce those rules, there is no one to stop the order being given.

Rights, as with all laws/rules, only exist so long as we can enforce them.
 
  • #27
TylerH
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brainstorm, you're confusing rights with entitlements. Rights can't be taken, but not necessarily given. Enlightenments can't be taken, and must be given.

EDIT: Wow, thanks spell-checker. "Enlightenments" is supposed to be "entitlements."
 
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  • #28
JaredJames
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Now, you can still argue that internet isn't a basic need the way food and water are, but the question is whether government may deny support of internet service as a means to levy general censorship of free speech. It seems to me that any democratic government has the responsibility to provide some form of access to public discourse for all citizens. Otherwise, how can individuals have equal access to voicing their views publicly? Stand on a soapbox in public? At this point in online-discourse, I would personally find it curtailment of my democratic participation to have internet access unavailable. How many users of online forums wouldn't?

Your freedom of speech only grants you the right not to be 'gagged' by the government if you will. It does not give you the right of access to any forum you like - whether that forum is the street, the internet or the white house.
 
  • #29
brainstorm
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Of course it does, it means the government can't stop those things happening. You have a right to them and the government can't take them away.
If you are charged with a crime, SOMEONE has the responsibility to provide you with a jury trial. No one is allowed to try and convict a suspect without offering them a jury trial.

Yes, they can charge what they like. That's the whole point of having a number of companies - competition prevents you being over charged and exploited. If you only have the one you get a monopoly - which is where regulation comes in.
Well, it's not completely true that competition necessarily prevents consumers from being exploited. E.g. if consumers generally exhibit irrational consumption behavior, they could make it possible for providers to exploit them by failing to switch providers for rational reasons. Other examples are also possible but the point is when should government make it a point to ensure free-market rationality and/or regulate economic activity against exploitation?

It was an illegal act. That has nothing to do with it not being returned to the "colonial owners".
It wasn't illegal in the sense of a universal right to self-governance.

That is a very naively written paragraph. In war, there are absolutely no rights. We only have "war rights" now because the powers that be gave them to us. The rules of war only exist because those in power said they should.
That's true, but the premise of war-rights is that no single waring party could be powerful enough to escape judgment following the war. Therefore, they would act according to reasonable standards of war. I suppose this would not be the case for a waring party that had to continue fighting to the death against oppressive force that suppresses reason. This gets into the philosophy of Christianity where oppressive powers can destroy holiness itself. I don't use the word, "holiness," btw to preach religion but just to refer to the idea of ultimate legitimacy.

If you remove those who rule and grant said rules / rights, you get rid of the rules / rights too.
It depends on whether you regard rules/rights as natural and universal or culturally relative to an arbitrary ruling authority. You shouldn't state this as an absolute when you are clearly promoting relative authority.

Here's an example, in the past the order to "give no quarter" could be issued. It meant to kill all those you come across, not sparing anyone. Now however, it is illegal to issue that order - because the powerful nations agreed it should be.
But it could be enforced by anyone with the power to enforce it if they so chose, no?

If those nations are no longer there with their armies to enforce those rules, there is no one to stop the order being given.
There is never anyone to stop an order being given (or followed) except for the individual giving or following the order. All ruling authorities can do is attempt to induce commanders and commandees to resist committing illegal and/or unethical actions. Ultimately the consequences of actions are born by their bearers, no?

Rights, as with all laws/rules, only exist so long as we can enforce them.
Rights can also be claimed against those who refuse to recognize them. Invoked rights may still be disrespected, but the hope is that history will record the willful disregard of rights and hold the abuser accountable. The problem is when history is interpreted through false assumptions as is currently the case with holding Blair or other elected officials accountable for the actions of soldiers. I don't want to hijack the thread, but soldiers who act on illegal/unethical premises don't have the right to defer accountability to those with higher rank, even though the power exists to enforce that supposed right. This is a slightly different issue than unenforced rights, but it speaks to the issue of universal (il)legitimacy of rights-claims on the basis of reason and not the arbitrary authority of politics du jour.
 
  • #30
JaredJames
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brainstorm, you're confusing rights with entitlements. Rights can't be taken, but not necessarily given. Enlightenments can't be taken, and must be given.

Again, rights only hold so long as there are people to enforce them.

We have human rights because the powers that be sat down and agreed on what all humans should be granted. But, if there is no one to enforce those rights then they cease to exist.

An example of this would be a person rights whilst under arrest. When it came to terror suspects the UK government wanted to extend the holding period to 28 days. But, the European courts prevented it as it was in breach of the suspects human rights.
Now, if the European courts weren't there, the UK government could have done it.

If the US courts and people stopped defending their rights, the government could start taking them away.

The only reason we say "a person has a right to X" (particularly with war time rights) is because we currently have the power to do so. If we didn't have the power, then it really wouldn't make much difference.
 
  • #31
JaredJames
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If you are charged with a crime, SOMEONE has the responsibility to provide you with a jury trial. No one is allowed to try and convict a suspect without offering them a jury trial.

Only under current law.
It wasn't illegal in the sense of a universal right to self-governance.

Really? They committed treason.

Regardless, what is this "universal right" you speak of? Universal to who? What country A sees as a right isn't necessarily what country B sees as a right.
That's true, but the premise of war-rights is that no single waring party could be powerful enough to escape judgment following the war. Therefore, they would act according to reasonable standards of war. I suppose this would not be the case for a waring party that had to continue fighting to the death against oppressive force that suppresses reason. This gets into the philosophy of Christianity where oppressive powers can destroy holiness itself. I don't use the word, "holiness," btw to preach religion but just to refer to the idea of ultimate legitimacy.

Again, 'reasonable' as outlined by who? It's all about the most powerful imposing these on others.
It depends on whether you regard rules/rights as natural and universal or culturally relative to an arbitrary ruling authority. You shouldn't state this as an absolute when you are clearly promoting relative authority.

Universal rights are irrelevant if a person/power doesn't recognise them. You can claim everyone has the right to food, but if the dominant power disagrees then that's all that matters. Rights are based on morals and ethics at the time of writing.
But it could be enforced by anyone with the power to enforce it if they so chose, no?

Correct.
There is never anyone to stop an order being given (or followed) except for the individual giving or following the order. All ruling authorities can do is attempt to induce commanders and commandees to resist committing illegal and/or unethical actions. Ultimately the consequences of actions are born by their bearers, no?

There's no one to stop it being given, but there are consequences for issuing it - bad ones - go to prison for genocide bad. That's the whole idea.

I may feel issuing the order is acceptable, and my right to do so as the victor. You may feel it is unacceptable. If I am more powerful than you, there's nothing you can do. But, if you are more powerful than me you can do things to stop it.
 
  • #32
TylerH
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I don't know the sociology definition of a right, if there it one, but there's also schools of thought that consider rights to be absolute. Personally, I tend to be an absolutist. By the absolute view, the fact a right is unprotected, has no bearing on the fact it is a right.

This was the opinion of the "powers that sat down and agreed on what all humans should be granted."
The United States Declaration of Independence said:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
 
  • #33
JaredJames
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I don't know the sociology definition of a right, if there it one, but there's also schools of thought that consider rights to be absolute. Personally, I tend to be an absolutist. By the absolute view, the fact a right is unprotected, has no bearing on the fact it is a right.

This was the opinion of the "powers that sat down and agreed on what all humans should be granted."

A perfect example you have given. If there is no one to uphold the constitution, it really doesn't make much difference.

What you see as a right now, wasn't necessarily 20, 50, 100, 500 years ago and may not be over the next decade or century. We create the rights, we enforce them. There's no such thing as a 'god given right' in this respect.

I'm not going further with this as it's off topic. I shan't be replying to this particular discussion any further.

So far as the internet goes, none of our current rights grant us access to it.
 
  • #34
brainstorm
564
0


Only under current law.
You're mixing up debates. The point of the right to jury-trial was that the government has the responsibility to PROVIDE a jury-trial, not just protect you from having it taken away from you (since you wouldn't have it in the first place).

Really? They committed treason.
Treason is relative violation of authoritarian loyalty. It is not an absolute rights-violation. Sovereigns don't have an inalienable right to the submission of loyal subjects.

Regardless, what is this "universal right" you speak of? Universal to who? What country A sees as a right isn't necessarily what country B sees as a right.
You assume national-relativism. What basis do you have for assuming that rights are relative to national sovereignty? What about the sovereignty of universal reason? Can't sovereign authorities be wrong by higher reason?

Again, 'reasonable' as outlined by who? It's all about the most powerful imposing these on others.
Reason is demonstrated in good-faith dispute between parties seeking a universally valid resolution. If reason was culturally relative, how would it be possible for any two reasonable parties to come to a reasonable agreement without one being indoctrinated into the other's culture first?

Universal rights are irrelevant if a person/power doesn't recognise them. You can claim everyone has the right to food, but if the dominant power disagrees then that's all that matters. Rights are based on morals and ethics at the time of writing.
When power comes into conflict with reason, it becomes corrupt power instead of legitimate authority. Power has to legitimate itself to avoid overthrow. How long can an oppressive authority maintain functional power before it becomes undermined by, if no one else, its own agents? People universally resist illegitimacy in favor of legitimacy because they are aware of it on some level, even when they are trying to deny it.

There's no one to stop it being given, but there are consequences for issuing it - bad ones - go to prison for genocide bad. That's the whole idea.
Only because there is an ideology that commanders are accountable for the actions of others, regardless of those others' actual responsibility in the situation. This is due to a culture of authoritarianism that has been and ultimately will be recognized as illegitimate. It's just that currently, it has strong ideological foothold in everyday culture. If you think about it, though, it does not make sense to protect people who are responsible for ethical abuses just because their rank is lower than the person ranked as their commander. Isn't each individual ultimately responsible for her/his own actions insofar as s/he has the ability to choose how to act, whether on the basis of orders or otherwise?

I may feel issuing the order is acceptable, and my right to do so as the victor. You may feel it is unacceptable. If I am more powerful than you, there's nothing you can do. But, if you are more powerful than me you can do things to stop it.
That's a bully's logic. But besides, there is power in resisting power. People are too quick to assume that power flows unidirectionally and that the world is divided into the powerful and the powerless. Power doesn't work that way. Just because someone defines an order as acceptable doesn't mean it was - but the irony of debating it is the implication that the person acting on the order didn't have the power to choose not to. That is the power that authoritarians want to deny because they rely on people choosing to follow orders. Why? Because they are POWERLESS to command without people CHOOSING to follow their orders. This is why so much violence has to be used to intimidate soldiers into following orders. If they didn't have the choice to disobey, there would be no reason to intimidate them. The ultimate power lies in the hands of the soldiers.
 
  • #35
JaredJames
2,817
22


You're mixing up debates. The point of the right to jury-trial was that the government has the responsibility to PROVIDE a jury-trial, not just protect you from having it taken away from you (since you wouldn't have it in the first place).

Bingo. No government to do so = no jury trial unless someone else steps in to provide it.
That's a bully's logic.

Welcome to the world. Big, powerful countries impose rules on other countries.

Your freedom of speech right is just that. It does not grant you the right of access to ways to broadcast/promote your speech. It does however, ensure the government can't block your access to those services if you want it (certain legal areas aside).
 

Suggested for: Is Internet Access a Human Right? Reflections in the Wake of the Egyptian Protests

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