Internet as human right and the evolution of technology

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The internet should be seen as a basic human right, according to to Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web. Speaking at the 20th International World Wide Web Conference in India, Berners-Lee emphasised the importance of the internet as a neutral media not controlled by large corporates or governments.

“Today, Egypt is communicating online with the people. The common man is in a position to give feedback to the government. … There is a problem of jurisdiction. There is a problem of coordination among law enforcement services across different countries. Which aspect of the internet should be governed by what sort of international organisation. Currently, there is a lot of discussion going on whether it should be done through countries or independently,” Berners-Lee said.

50% says yes
The internet can be a significant tool for communication between people, and between governments and people, but a human right? 50% of us believe the internet is important enough to be considered a human right, according to a poll by the BBC conducted last year.

27,000 people across 26 nations were polled, with 87% of Chinese respondents saying they see the internet as a fundamental human, compared with 75% of Americans. Commenting on Chinese internet censorship of which sites its citizens can access, former US president Bill Clinton said last year: “Governments should not prevent people from connecting to the Internet, to websites, or to each other. The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyberspace.”

When technology evolves
“This is what we believe: technology alone is not enough. Faster, thinner, lighter: those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful, even magical. That’s when you leap forward.”

This is the narrative for Apple’s new advertisement for the iPad 2 (video below). While the gadget in question is very pretty indeed, the words go to the heart of another issue: how technology is a tool that changes how the world works. If the internet is indeed to become a human right, advanced, intuitive gadgets will be an integral part of this.

Technology is moving away from being these clunky machines to becoming sleek and interactive – and with this a little more human. What the iPad narrative is talking about is the point where the tech is so good it is no longer about the machine, but about what you can do with it. It’s evolution – now isn’t that fascinating.

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