The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.
I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they've taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service, and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st Century.
President Obama came close here to saying that access to the Internet is a basic human right. I wondered: Is Web access a basic human right? If so, how did this happen?
What is a basic human right?
According to the Wikipedia:
Human rights are "rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." Proponents of the concept usually assert that everyone is endowed with certain entitlements merely by reason of being human. Human rights are thus conceived in a universalist and egalitarian fashion... However, there is no consensus as to the precise nature of what in particular should or should not be regarded as a human right... and the abstract concept of human rights has been a subject of intense philosophical debate and criticism.
Many of the basic ideas that animated the movement developed in the aftermath of the Second World War, culminating in its adoption by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. It declared:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Do basic human rights include the Web?
The first country in the world to make access to the Internet a legal right was Finland, which made 1 megabyte Internet broadband access a legal right in 2009.
In March 2010, a BBC survey of 27,000 adults across 26 countries found that almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is “a fundamental right”.
"The right to communicate cannot be ignored," Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told BBC News. "The internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created…. governments must regard the internet as basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste and water. We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate.”
Apparently President Obama was listening. Will President Mubarak agree?