The right to a horse

One of the key figures in the creation of the Internet suggests we should be careful about enshrining any technology as a human right. That it is tempting to do so says a lot about many technologies' ability to enable incredible (and deeply humanizing) things, but also about their tendency to seem more irresistible and permanent than they really are.

[T]echnology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself. There is a high bar for something to be considered a human right. Loosely put, it must be among the things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things. For example, at one time if you didn’t have a horse it was hard to make a living. But the important right in that case was the right to make a living, not the right to a horse. Today, if I were granted a right to have a horse, I’m not sure where I would put it.

from “Internet Access Is Not a Human Right,” by Vint Cerf, The New York Times, 4 January 2012 :: via

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