Should Internet Access be a Fundamental Right?

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A few days ago I wrote about the G8’s proposed ACTA legislation which could have a big effect on the Internet Freedom. And today I stumbled upon an article over The Register at a proposed French amendment to the European Telephone Package which is an EU-wide piece of legislation. The lowdown:

France has suggested an amendment to the pan-European Telecoms Package, which would bar broadband access to anyone who persists in illegally downloading music or films.

Last month, the government of Nicolas Sarkozy insisted on a similar “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” scheme for France. Under a cross-industry agreement, ISPs would have to cut off access for up to a year for third-time offenders. Sarko believes “there is no reason that the internet should be a lawless zone”.

I’ve had a bit of a think about the consequences of what would happen if I had no internet access.

  • In the UK, the only way to apply to Higher Education is through the internet. Anyone barred from the internet would have higher education closed off to them. Student finance is also set up on the internet.
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    The vast majority of my assignments and research involve research on the internet. So even if I could have applied to higher education and the relevant funding, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything when I got there.

  • I do a lot of banking online and some of my bank accounts (the e-savers) can only be accessed online. Without access to the internet, I would not have access to my own money.
  • I do much of my shopping online. If I couldn’t, I’d have to go shopping on the high street. For me, that often involves having to travel a fair distance and prices are usually quite a bit higher on the high street.
  • I personally make use of Facebook to organise much of my social life and I know that is the norm for many students of around university age. Losing internet access would also have a big impact on what I do in the “real world”.
  • I listen to much of my music and watch a fair amount of television and video on the computer. Without the internet, I would no longer have access to this entertainment!
  • Anyone who makes money online or works from home may be unable to continue in their current job.

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I’m sure that all of us could think of a hundred reasons why we couldn’t live without the internet but I’ve listed a couple of my main ones and I’m guessing that a lot of people will agree with me on those.

As the internet becomes a more integral part of every day life, access to the internet becomes more and more important to being able to participate within society. So today I put this question out to you guys: Should the access to the internet be a fundamental right? Is it fair to remove somebody’s internet access for breaking copyright laws?

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