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United Kingdom The Internet

Fast Broadband To Be Classed a Fundamental Right in the UK (bbc.com) 188

Mark Wilson writes: Every home and business in the UK will have access to "fast broadband" by 2020. This is the latest pledge from Prime Minister David Cameron, who said access to the internet "should be a right." At the moment, 83% of homes and businesses in Britain have access to broadband connections 24Mbps and faster. By 2017, this is expected to rise to 95%. The latest plan is directed at the "last 5 percent" — such as people in remote areas — and will oblige broadband providers to supply at least 10Mbps broadband to anyone who demands it.
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Fast Broadband To Be Classed a Fundamental Right in the UK

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  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Sunday November 08, 2015 @02:22AM (#50886637)

    When everything is a fundamental right, then that completely devalues the definition of "fundamental".

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Just make it go on long enough for "fundamental right" to mean "something the government gives you" and pretty soon they'll take some of the old ones back.

    • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday November 08, 2015 @03:10AM (#50886695)

      When everything is a fundamental right, then that completely devalues the definition of "fundamental".

      Internet access should be enshrined as a right. This extends beyond just remote rural citizens to everyday citizens everyday lives.

      I'm sure you recall the scene in the matrix where Neo demands his call and they edit out his mouth. "What good is a phone call if you can't speak..."

      In modern society the internet is replacing the post office. We increasingly use it to commuicate with eachother and with our government.

      To deny someone the internet in 2020 is akin to denying them the post office in 1920. Not only should access be mandated, but it really should be enshrined as a right -- such that it cannot be easily curtailed by a judge or future legislators at whim.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nutria ( 679911 )

        What if access to the railroads had been enshrined a fundamental right back in the 1940s? After all, "freedom of movement", right? But that would have stifled the growth of roads, and we're much more mobile now than we were 70 years ago. Same thing with newspapers and freedom of speech.

        It's infinitely better that fundamental rights be generically written so as not to tie civilization to any one specific technology.

        • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday November 08, 2015 @04:13AM (#50886797)

          It's infinitely better that fundamental rights be generically written so as not to tie civilization to any one specific technology.

          I don't disagree with you, and your not wrong. First, RTFA...

          --
          The PM is to introduce a "universal service obligation" for broadband, giving the public a legal right to request an "affordable" connection.

          It would put broadband on a similar footing to other basic services such as water and electricity.
          --

          Its not being enshrined as an amendment to the magna carta or something.

          It's infinitely better that fundamental rights be generically written so as not to tie civilization to any one specific technology.

          And while I agree with this. If they don't pass legislation to "enshrine" specific technology then its legal status is indeterminate and in limbo until the courts set binding precendents. Especially since the courts are bound by the law as it is written, not the will of the people or even common sense. Which is precisely the wrong way to go about protecting your rights. Its good to proactively legislate that certain technologies are captured by your more abstract rights.

          Finally, to your railroad argument vs freedom of movement; I offer you the modern air travel "no-fly list"... as an example where if something is not explicitly enshrined you get bullshit like this that will take decades to work out. The internet has a lot in common with it, and someone who wishes to deny you the internet simply argues ... your freedom of speech is not curtailed: you can still say what ever you want to people in person; you just can't say it on the internet....

          I applaud any nation that proactively says: "Noope. We're not having that nonsense here. Denying you the internet is a violation of your rights. All citizens should have affordable access." And if in the year 2400 such a ruling on the books is as quaint as those ordinances that still require the school house to stable your horse... so be it. (Although I am in favor of a better system of removing obsolete law than we have now.)

        • How would that have stifled the growth of the roads? Since when has X being a right meant Y, an alternative to X, been banned?

          Freedom of the Press is a fundamental right according to many constitutions. Do any of those countries ban the Internet?

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          The railroads had common-carrier status pushed on them in the late 1800's IIRC, this forced them to treat all customers the same and was sorta considered a right.

      • That's a good comparison. The Post Office has to serve everywhere, from big cities to remote islands, and at the same charge.

        Of course while you probably see that as one of those things needed to keep a society running, others see it as the first step towards death panels and compulsory gay marriage.

        • That's a good comparison. The Post Office has to serve everywhere, from big cities to remote islands, and at the same charge.

          Note that the Postal Service is a government institution.

          So, raise your hands if you want internet access to be a government provided service. After all, they'd NEVER do something like monitor every website you visit and every email you send, right?

      • In modern society the internet is replacing the post office.

        But access to a post office is not a right. It's something governments have striven to provide their citizens, but it's never been a right.

      • Internet access is not a right (go live on a mountain and try to get service), using it is not a right either (blind people and the retarded have a hard time using the internet), the choice to use the internet if you want is a right, the choice to provide said internet service is also a right. The last two are known as freedom.

        Trying to make the first two rights is called socialism which is just a prettied up word for people who believe in slavery.

        • If broadband is a right, then would not data caps be considered limiting a person's rights? Unlimited access for all.
      • There is a world of difference between denying access to the internet and not providing access to the internet, and it's dishonest to attempt to equate the two.

        The right to life prohibits me from preventing you from eating. It does not require me to feed you (parents of young children excepted).

    • It's just a rhetorical technique. Government handouts are stigmatized, yet voters will still reward politicians for them. So politicians and their supporters make arguments about various things being rights (college, healthcare, cell phones, broadband, etc.) which gives the recipients the cover they need to avoid the stigma

    • The government wants everyone to file their taxes online. If they want to make that a requirement, then they need to make sure everyone has internet access.

    • When everything is a fundamental right, then that completely devalues the definition of "fundamental".

      Everything isn't a fundamental right. Very few things are, in fact. But one of them is the ability, not just a purely theoretical liberty, to live and partake in society on equal footing with everyone else - and today that requires the Internet.

      That said, it might be clearer if fundamental rights and consequently required rights were separated to their own groups. In that case, "broadband Internet connecti

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        the ability, not just a purely theoretical liberty, to live and partake in society on equal footing with everyone else

        No, since that pretty explicitly means everyone having as much of everything as everyone else, and that experiment was a catastrophic failure.

        it might be clearer if fundamental rights and consequently required rights were separated to their own groups.

        Splendid idea.

    • However, when it's impossible to become educated, or employed (or potentially in the future, registered as existing, being able to travel, ...) in any way really participate in society without it, then you really do have to consider internet access a fundamental right.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Absolutely not true. For example, think back to pre-radio days: freedom of the press required you to be able to afford a press. The government didn't pay for there to be one in each house an apartment.

        • Just like the government isn't paying for your internet connection in the UK, they're just stating that the ISPs aren't allowed to refuse to install one, no matter where you live.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      You misunderstand. How can GCHQ spy on people who are not online? This is an attempt to close the spy-agency version of the analog hole.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Speech is a fundamental right. The Internet is the new press. The press was a right, they even called it the freedom of the press.

      But being a right doesn't mean it must be provided.
  • Telescreens (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 08, 2015 @02:27AM (#50886647)

    The bandwidth will be needed for our telescreens https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telescreen

  • Curiously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Burz ( 138833 ) on Sunday November 08, 2015 @02:42AM (#50886659) Homepage Journal

    No right to privacy, eh? If you're building a police state, it makes for a convenient combination of priorities.

    For that matter, why not make free speech a fundamental right? Or has Cameron forgotten he's in the UK?

    • by burni2 ( 1643061 )

      Carnerib has certainly not forgotten that he's in the UK.

      That kind of "gift" comes with a catch:

      Pull the live of more people into the internet, where you can easily observe them because they just share.

      I just fear for those that do not accept this fundamental gift!

  • I wonder - is that 24mbit or is that "24 mbit" like my 3-4mbit ADSL is "up to 24mbit"?
    • by Bongo ( 13261 )

      I've just been told there's currently no guarantee of upload speeds. So my upload can go down to 512Kbit and it would still be "working". Fibre To The Cabinet is such a wonderful tech, even BT can't be arsed to try to make it work.

      • Hmmm ... not limited to uploads, methinks. With my BT FTTC, the download speeds are all over the place as well :(

    • DSL no longer qualifies for broadband, even at it's max the upload is not even close to the current spec. The telecos are trying to do an end-run by "offering" LTE cellular internet, since there is nothing on the horizon that they even have in development that can hit the spec. Even the "gfast DSL" is only good for 50 meters.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday November 08, 2015 @07:19AM (#50887175)

    What good is a speed increase if I am not allowed to use it for what I want? I sure as fuck don't need faster internet to get more ads that I must not block. I sure don't need faster access of pages that don't interest me because the ISPs may throttle those that do with impunity.

    Most of all, I do not need faster access. I need more secure access. Which you buffoons actually want to outlaw.

    Don't dip the turd you try to feed us in chocolate and pretend like it's tasty.

  • What ever happened to the good old 80/20 rule? 80% of the coverage with 20% of the effort.

    Every country I have seen which declares that internet MUST be available to ALL citizens has subsequently shot themselves in the fiscal foot with horrendous cost blow-outs for installations. At some point someone must realise that someone living on a farm 2km from high neighbour is unlikely to be able to expect the same kind of services and systems available to inner city tech hubs.

    I always laugh at the concept in Aust

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      Every country I have seen which declares that internet MUST be available to ALL citizens has subsequently shot themselves in the fiscal foot with horrendous cost blow-outs for installations. At some point someone must realise that someone living on a farm 2km from high neighbour is unlikely to be able to expect the same kind of services and systems available to inner city tech hubs.

      Unlike other countries, the UK has a cabinet system that replaces the need to build exchanges everywhere like other countries,

  • The latest plan is directed at the "last 5 percent" — such as people in remote areas

    They will have to redefine "remote" because live the 10th largest city in the UK and the only option i have is a 3Mbit connection, they all go to the same cabinet regardless of what ISP you choose.

  • Rights (Score:4, Interesting)

    by frnic ( 98517 ) on Sunday November 08, 2015 @09:24AM (#50887479)

    Unless you believe in God given rights, every right is simply something the government guarantees to you.

    Society over time decides what it feels everyone should be entitled to - and entitled is not a four letter word.

    We started with Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Since then we added a few, everyone can vote, everyone can work, speech, etc.

    As society changes more things become "rights" - ie. things we as a society feel all of us would benefit by having - like education, healthcare, living wage.

    The internet is widely integrated into all walks of life in all industrialized nations. I won't list the benefits it brings, since Anonymous Cowards want to prove that dial up is "good enough" and you can live without it even.

    The point is, rights are not about things you can't live without, rights are about those things we as a society believe everyone should have.

    • The point is, rights are not about things you can't live without, rights are about those things we as a society believe everyone should have.

      And who is this "we as a society"? You mean the 10-20% of society that usually votes for the winning party or candidate? Parties and candidates subject to extensive corporate lobbying and political pressures? Representatives that have approval ratings in the low teens? The idea that political decisions in a democracy represent the universal desires or preferences of "

  • Entitlement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BradMajors ( 995624 ) on Sunday November 08, 2015 @09:42AM (#50887535)

    Not a right, an entitlement. A right is something the government can not stop you from doing. An entitlement is something the government must provide you. The distinction is important. Governments do not provide anyone with rights. Governments can only take rights away.

    • Not a right, an entitlement. A right is something the government can not stop you from doing. An entitlement is something the government must provide you. The distinction is important. Governments do not provide anyone with rights. Governments can only take rights away.

      "The government" can stop you from doing anything they like. Also, there are no pre-existing rights, only systems created by human beings.

      Wild animals don't have governments, and they don't have rights.

  • If it is a right will the poor have to pay for it? The nature of the net is that one needs the connection where they live as ideas like having access to a PC in a library do not work out so well for many computer users.
  • A right is a liberty, a freedom to do something without the government interfering.

    The internet is a service, someone's labor for which they need compensation.

    You never have a right to another person's services or goods. At best you could say it's a good idea to pool resources. Even that involves forcing those who do not want to pool resources into giving up their resources. As a result, a byproduct of pooling resources is a gradual reduction of individuals choosing what to do with their own resources.

    It

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      The internet is a service, someone's labor for which they need compensation.

      Currently, most Internet in the UK is provided via BT Openreach's lines, exchanges and cabinets with the exception of Virgin Media (which does provide some services over BT Openreach still). I think the idea behind Cameron's statement is that BT Openreach should sufficiently penetrate the entire country sufficiently with fast broadband. Making it possible for you to have fast broadband if you want (from practically any provider you

  • Obligatory Internet Access.

    Not being online will not be an option. Don't have a (landline) phone or a computer ... please opt out using the web page at notme.gov.uk ....

    It's like this thing that you have an address. Not having an address, or having a location which changes from night to night is not a permissible option. (I have a friend who is just about finished building his retirement home - a mobile home. He's an Bolshy anti-government person, who happily pays his taxes. But he doesn't fit into appro

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