Free Markets, Free People

Is access to the internet a “civil right”?

Well, of course anything can be declared a “civil right”.  All it takes is using the force of government via law or bureaucratic fiat (FCC imposes new rules on internet) to make something into that.  But any basic understanding of the word “right” does not include something which depends on the labor, money, services or assets of a 2nd party for its fulfillment.  Health care is not a “right”, civil or otherwise, because in order to fulfill it, one must coerce a 2nd party provider to give the services necessary whether they want to or not.

So is the internet a “civil right”?  Depends on who you ask – for the entitlement crowd, the answer is “yes”:

"Broadband is becoming a basic necessity," civil-rights activist Benjamin Hooks added. And earlier this month, fellow FCC panelist Mignon Clyburn, daughter of Congressional Black Caucus leader and No. 3 House Democrat James Clyburn of South Carolina, declared that free (read: taxpayer-subsidized) access to the Internet is not only a civil right for every "nappy-headed child" in America, but is essential to their self-esteem. Every minority child, she said, "deserves to be not only connected, but to be proud of who he or she is."

Heck, the same argument could be made for any number of things – a cell phone, for instance.  Any number of people I’m sure would argue that a cell phone and unlimited access to a cellular phone network has become a “basic necessity”.   Of course we’re sliding down that slippery slope at an amazing rate of speed.

And if internet access is a “basic need”, a “civil right”, what about the tools necessary to access it?  An account with an internet provider and a computer?  Software?  Michelle Malkin remarks:

Face it: A high-speed connection is no more an essential civil right than 3G cell phone service or a Netflix account. Increasing competition and restoring academic excellence in abysmal public schools is far more of an imperative to minority children than handing them iPads. Once again, Democrats are using children as human shields to provide useful cover for not so noble political goals.

And, of course that “not so noble political goal” is more government control which, of course, translates into more power accrued and more control of every aspect of your life.  Malkin again:

For progressives who cloak their ambitions in the mantle of "fairness," it’s all about control. It’s always about control.

Precisely – and they’ll use any trick in the book to enlarge it.  And cloaking it in the guise of a “civil right” simply points out, again, how blatantly transparent  they’ve gotten in their quest.  This isn’t about “rights” – this is about power and intrusion.



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18 Responses to Is access to the internet a “civil right”?

  • Access to the free market is a civil right.
    Of course, the left is continuously making less free….

  • Actual…you know, REAL…civil rights are few and easily defined.
    One can find them in the founding documents of our nation.
    People with an agenda are always trying to get another “right” added to the catalog, which is a form of crime, IMNHO.
    Each time you set up a RIGHT in one person, you necessarily impose an OBLIGATION in another.
    Nobody has a RIGHT to an education, for instance.  And nobody has a CIVIL RIGHT to interweb access.
    That drive is designed to put the BIG CENTRAL GOVERNMENT in charge, to assure us of our rights.  Most of us know where that will trend…

  • Eh.  I don’t think many people consider it a “right” in any meaningful sense.  That said, its status as right has precisely zero bearing on the policy question of net neutrality.  It’s fun to crow about silly people that consider the internet tubes to be entitlements, but ultimately doesn’t have anything to do w/ the actual policy question. 

    • Except as the pretext on which they are trying this power-grab.  That’s KINDA important, seems to me…

    • When the policy question is fashioned “in their name”, they certainly are.

    • The policy has zero to do with an actual problem that they cite.   The internet and access to it has been an unmitigated success.  It’s about control and impeding freedom of speech under a false assertion to attain control.

  • Just like it’s a basic necessity I steal all the money out of your wallet and score some coke.
    It’s The Cloward – Piven Strategy folks, we need to embrace this cancer like George Patton embraced the Third Reich.

  • While I don’t think we are there yet, I can easily see internet access becoming as important as postal access in the 18th century.
    I don’t think the slippery slope is as slippery as you make it.  We have freedom of the press without a right to a press from the government.  We have an Established postal system without a government obligation to provide you with paper, pens or postage.  We have post roads without a right to a car.  If we are talking about something like empowering Congress to “establish electronic communication systems, and ensure access to all citizens” (in the model of the Postal Clause) then I would be for it.

    • I might agree with your point if we were doing this in the same era as the postal system and freedom of the press. We’ve already traveled down that slippery slope in other areas. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to hear it expressed (and later acted upon) that the means to access this new “civil right” are also a necessity (with the full support of the computer industry, of course).

  • The problem I see is I have only one choice of Cable Provider in my area.  My other Internet options are Dial-up which is not feasible.  I don’t consider a Dish an equal replacement either.
    That cable provider has been given a government advantage due to its access to single hardwire routed through my community.
    Because of that, I don’t feel my ISP has anymore right to regulate my access anymore than the FCC.
    I know more people everyday are canceling their cable and going pure internet for TV with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Content Provider’s own Websites (watched of Fringe Season 1 and 2 on their website), Free and Pay TV services etc.  My cable provider is starting their own version of Netflix/Hulu Plus but I have not doubt if they could throttle Netflix to give their service an advantage or sour Internet TV in general, they would.
    I also have no doubt the FCC will accomplish the same think as well but for some other group’s benefit.a
    And whether its the FCC or ISP that regulate my access I expect copyright to be enforced rabidly.  FCC by petition and political payoff or my ISP by being prone to copyright lawsuits once they’ve officially be declared free to restrict my access.  Either way blogs like this that quote more than a line or two (or less) from a piece will have to pay or be blacklisted by your ISP or the FCC.  Don’t expect Rupert “copyright should be enforced on the internet” Murdoch to tell you the option that keeps access unrestricted.  I don’t expect the FCC to keep it free either.
    In short, the battle is already lost because the public has been polarized and each side has their own method of grabbing control of your access.

    • Not hardly
      I have had satellite internet access.  Think OUTSIDE the box.
      The solution is NOT to make government the MONOPOLY provider (or licenser), but to OPEN UP the market to others.
      This is no different than was the phone system issue.  Hard infrastructure CAN be used by LOTS of different enterprises.  There is NO intrinsic reason the nation cannot be served with other HARD LINES.  Hell, if South Korea can do it…

      • Actually the phone line is an excellent example of what can go wrong.
        When phone companies first got deregulated they split into a bazillion pieces and companies came out of the woodwork.  I constantly got offers to switch.  Then under Clinton rules were changed that allowed companies that owned the hardwire to charge higher access rates which would make alternate providers non-competitive.  That’s when all the phone companies started to merge and alternate phone services started to disappear.  Then its no surprise that AT&T reformed ultimately from under one of the former pieces that had hardwire ownership.
        I don’t get offers to switch phone companies anymore.  Yeah, pseudo free market!
        And no, hanging a dish on the front of my condo (if its even allowed) is not an acceptable alternative.  I’m also on Internet Phone which I can’t do via a dish because those services seem to require a phoneline for service and I’m not sure they are technically capable of having feasible internet phone service.  I use to online game a little bit some years ago.  Their ping also sucks and makes online gaming not feasible, either.
        A competing technology is like telling someone to drive an electric car when they wanted a gas engine vehicle and telling them “see you’ve got free market options.”
        Sorry, if someone is going to grant a single company exclusive control of distribution, they’ve already destroyed any free market mechanism and allow that company to do whatever they want doesn’t make it any more free marketie.

  • ” “establish electronic communication systems, and ensure access to all citizens” (in the model of the Postal Clause) then I would be for it.” And it would run just as efficiently. Now I will note that I have never had a problem with the USPS and AFAIK have never lost any mail. And my local PO runs quite well. The system just loses money year in, year out and what other option do you have for regular mail if you have a complaint?

  • You know they now offer free cell phones for poor people? (Government subsidized.)
    I was against it at first, but then again, with a cell phone they can get a job.
    If the do any crime using it, it can help catch them, too.