Saturday, January 21, 2012

internet as a fundamental right

I agree to the extent that I don't feel like trying to multiply fundamental rights, but I am also concerned that without the mechanism of free speech -- and the internet is becoming essentially *the* mechanism for free speech -- you don't have any way to get your fundamental rights. The fact that you can run a mimeograph in the basement may have been an important right back in 50 years ago, but it isn't going to do you much good to get your cause out now. I think there is implied in the freedom of speech concept a freedom to be allowed to be heard. It doesn't require me to listen, but it does at least allow you to make it possible for me to listen. And without internet access, I don't think you have free speech...And in the Constitution of 1787 it basically was the printing press that they intended to protect. When they talked about freedom of speech, they really meant pamphleteering. Poor Richard's Almanac, that sort of being able to keep a little red letterpress in your basement and run off things saying things like "the President is a schmuck!"
- Jerry Pournelle, This Week in Tech #335, discussing whether or not internet access is a human right.

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