4.23.2016

The Internet is a Privilege


The United Nations was formed in 1945 after World War II, with the goal of maintaining international peace and security. One of the most important results of this may be "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights." This fairly straightforward document contains 30 articles, some of which are very similar to the United States’ own Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Back in 2003, the UN issued a report as part of its World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which declared an internet connection as a human right (however, it was not added to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentioned above). In today’s society, this seems like a no-brainer. 

Our computers, phones, and more and more “smart devices” have been connected to the internet with mixed results. The Internet has become such a staple that not having constant access to it can become a handicap in areas such as school and business. It is essential that the freedom of speech be protected in this “global economy”, however, this freedom is not without limits.

"Freedom of speech is not without its limits."

Let me ask you: Am I free to yell “fire” in a crowded theater? Absolutely. I am also free to suffer the consequences. Without a doubt, I will go to jail (if I’m not trampled to death by panicked moviegoers).

But what about the U.S. Constitution’s “unalienable Rights” [sic]? “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” don’t belong to just me, but to all U.S. citizens. Destroying another’s rights by killing, enslaving or distressing them is the very thing our laws protect against and, naturally, putting someone in prison is also infringing upon their rights.

This is why people can be legally banned from the World Wide Web. Although we tend to forget these days, there are other methods of reaching the outside world. SMS and dumb phones still exist, the postal systems still accept pen and paper, and God forbid, you could talk to someone in person. Not being able to access the internet may seem like a harsh punishment, but ask yourself: If someone pulled a Craigslist sex prank on you, what other punishment would seem more appropriate?