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Petition Calls For Making Net Access Inalienable Right 427

Posted by samzenpus
from the 1337th-amendment dept.
CelticWhisper writes "Targeted at stopping SOPA, a petition has been started at the White House's 'We The People' page calling for a Constitutional amendment that would render internet access an inalienable right. Other countries have already adopted such classification for internet access. An excerpt from petition text reads: 'The United States Government is actively attempting to pass legislation to censor Internet. There are numerous campaigns against this Act, but we need to do more than just prevent SOPA from passing. Otherwise, future Acts of similar nature will oppress our rights.' Is calling for a Constitutional amendment to guarantee this too extreme, or is the Internet sufficiently entrenched in modern life that access to it should be guaranteed by the Constitution?"
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Petition Calls For Making Net Access Inalienable Right

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  • It already is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve (701917) on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:51AM (#38123286)
    it's called Free Speech. That's not to say that the Government won't try to take it away, as they have with other rights, but there it is. The Internet isn't a thing which can be (properly) regulated, it's just a bunch of people/organizations voluntarily communicating.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I would also add the Freedom of Assembly with text chatting and video/voice conferences being the most obvious examples.

    • Re:It already is... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:14AM (#38123494)

      Freedom of speech does not necessarily extend to the methods used for speech. Freedom of speech does not give you an inalienable right to stand in public area speaking my mind into a 200dB sound system. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to call every number in the phone book at 2am. Hell, there's already significant precedent giving the government the right to revoke a citizens right to use a telephone. I'm not saying that the right to internet access shouldn't be be granted, but it is 100% not covered under existing precedent and interpretation of the first amendment.

      • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:38AM (#38124386)

        Those examples you gave were abuse of those rights, but they still don't necessitate limiting the rights of everyone else because of a few bad actors. Just because 10% of people on the internet are trading warez or pirated movies and music doesn't give them the right to infringe upon my rights to freely travel the internet.

        If we allow the government (or any private company, not just the government) the right to censor what web sites we can access, the internet is doomed in the U.S.. Just because the sites they want to censor right now are allegedly IP violators (and the alleged part of this can't be ignored; as it stands there is no recourse whatsoever to prevent erroneous reports from killing perfectly legit, legally-operated web sites), that doesn't mean they won't turn their sites on something else later. First it's child pornographers. Then it's IP thieves. Then it's bomb making instructions, fringe websites like Westboro Baptist Church and "Terrorist Groups". Then it's the Occupy organizing websites because of the conflicts with different police forces all over the country. Then it's sites promoting the overthrow of our government. After all, these actions are all "for the public good", right?

        Our access to the internet today is just as much a necessary facet of the public's right to revolution as the Second Amendment and Freedom of Speech and Assembly was in our Forefather's time. We've grown beyond the days when someone can ring the town bell and have all the men come rushing to town with their Brown Bess'. The internet is our town bell, so to speak.

        Giving the government the ability to limit our access to the internet is no different than allowing the government to rescind the 2nd Amendment and start collecting our guns. Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, evinced this mindset when he wrote the words:

        But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

        Without unfettered access to the internet, the government is in effect limiting this human right. We have the right to gather and demonstrate and, yes, even throw off our government if we feel that we are not being properly represented. If any of our sitting reps actually respect our founding fathers and the foundations of our country, they will vote against this ridiculous SOPA shit.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:40AM (#38124402)

        The problem is that as long as it isn't explicitly stated in the constitution you'll find people like Thomas and Scalia that pretend that it doesn't exist. Despite quite a few references to privacy in the bill of rights, there's plenty of folks that like to claim that there is no right to privacy. Well, if that's the case then why did they amend the constitution so that people would be secure in their persons, paper, houses and effects against unreasonable search and seizure?

        • by cayenne8 (626475)

          ...there's plenty of folks that like to claim that there is no right to privacy.

          They are wrong. At least in the US, it is supposed to be that...the constitution does NOT grant you rights. You have the rights born to you inately....and keep them all unless limited by law. That law should come primarily from your state/local laws.

          But the constitution nor the govt GRANTS any rights to the individual...it does, however grant a FEW enumerated rights/responsibilities to the Federal govt.

          That, however, is over

          • Re:It already is... (Score:5, Informative)

            by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:58PM (#38126170)

            They are wrong. At least in the US, it is supposed to be that...the constitution does NOT grant you rights. You have the rights born to you inately....and keep them all unless limited by law. That law should come primarily from your state/local laws.

            The natural right/positive right debate has been going hard and heavy for three hundred years now, and while the founders had a diversity of opinions on the issue, they had the good sense to keep ideology out of the constitution. The first amendment is a proscription on the power of congress to make certain kinds of laws, nothing more or less. You can believe that you have a natural right or the right is granted, neither interpretation conflicts with the text of the constitution and both theories had adherents among the writers. Getting them to all agree on one theoretical interpretation or the other would have guaranteed the language of the amendment would never have passed.

            Either way as pertains to privacy, it's most parsimonious to say US constitution does neither "recognize" nor "respect" a simple, holistic right to privacy. That the fourth amendment manages to spell out what it means without using the word "privacy" should be instructive, they probably left it out for a reason.

            it does, however grant a FEW enumerated rights/responsibilities to the Federal govt.

            You can ask Hamilton, Washington and Adams about how they felt about the interpretation and limitations of enumerated powers.

            The problem is that as long as it isn't explicitly stated in the constitution you'll find people like Thomas and Scalia that pretend that it doesn't exist.

            Their real problem is that their theory of constitutional interpretation is based on idea that their understanding what James Madison "meant" when he wrote something down in 1782 is superior and more valid than how a modern, reasonable person interprets the plain language in the time they're actually living in. Scalia has been very specific about the fact that he "doesn't understand" modern culture enough to apply 18th-century constitutional rights to modern situations in the manner of a "living document" constitutionalist, but he's quite certain he understands the culture of the late Georgian period enough to come to all kinds of precise conclusions about things like eminent domain in Kelo or corporate personhood.

            "Strict construction" is about embedding the terms and significations of the constitution in an historical-revisionist mythology and hermeneutic, with the objective of re-defining the law in minarchist terms (and guess who makes all the money when that happens).

      • Re:It already is... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LongearedBat (1665481) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:18AM (#38124960)

        Freedom of speech should be within the bounds of respect for others (as with any kind or right/priviledge).

        So in addition to your examples, freedom of speech shouldn't allow you to be offensively racist, derogotory against disabled people, disdainfully homophobic, etc.

        That said, as long as you are respectful, you should have the right to voice your honest opinion.

        • by nschubach (922175) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:40AM (#38125254) Journal

          While fine in intent, restricting freedom of speech to exclude hate speech only leads to restricting other types of speech. That's how we get into this whole mess of political correctness. If left unchecked, anything different/new could be considered harmful to people [society] and banned/restricted. Books, newspapers, etc. Some people would even go as far to say that we need to make Fox News illegal because it disagrees with their world view.

          It's not nice to spout obscenities, but I don't think it's the place of the government to monitor/regulate speech. We need to learn how to tune these people out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spectro (80839)

      This, every time I read a petition and people organizing against SOPA or whatever other law the *IAA comes up with I just face-palm and *cough* first amendment *cough*.

      There is no need to organize against this law. The day it gets signed (if ever) it will get overturned on first amendment grounds.

      Congress keeps trying to wipe their asses in the constitution and the courts will keep knocking them down.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:54AM (#38123894)

        You're an idiot. You represent the faction of limpdick idiots who say "the constitution protects us"... and none of you understand why the US constitution was an important document.

        Clue: it wasn't because of the freedoms it grants - all of those freedoms existed in laws in other countries (example: England) - but they were written down in Latin or French and buried in vaults where only legal scholars with the right education could read them. People didn't know that the state wasn't allowed to do that.

        The US constitution was important because it put YOUR RIGHTS in simple English on a sheet of paper. You know your rights and therefore you can exercise them and you know when people try to take them away... AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

        Not sit on your arse and imagine that a piece of paper protects you.

        • by countvlad (666933) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:16AM (#38124148)
          No, the US constitution was important because it put THE GOVERNMENTS rights in simple English on a sheet of paper. It's supposed to list what the government can do, not what the people can do; I say supposed to because the monstrosity of government we have now is so out of scope of the original purpose of government that it's beyond defining. The Bill of Rights (which is what you're really talking about) was an afterthought introduced by Madison because it was feared that the Constitution wasn't explicit enough, i.e., people would allow the government to grow beyond its purpose and trample certain rights were key to the revolution in the first place.

          The Constitution doesn't give you freedom. It gives the government freedom. Freedom isn't given to you by your government - it's something your government is supposed to protect!
        • Not (Score:5, Informative)

          by gr8_phk (621180) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:34AM (#38124330)

          You're an idiot. ... The US constitution was important because it put YOUR RIGHTS in simple English on a sheet of paper.

          Nope. The constitution doesn't say much directly about your rights. It says what the government can and can not do. An example would be "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." While it does indicate the people have a right, the purpose is to limit what the government can do. AFAIK it is impossible for a citizen or business to violate the constitution - that's why bars can have "ladies night" and not be charges with discrimination. Your right to discriminate is not spelled out in the constitution, only the governments requirement NOT to discriminate.

          IMHO the internet should not be mentioned explicitly. At most, the first amendment might be extended to include electronic communications. Plain and simple language is important, and specifics should be avoided. In fact, speech and things should not be taken as literal "speaking", but communication - in that case, the internet is already covered.

          • Re:Not (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jc42 (318812) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:43AM (#38125276) Homepage Journal

            IMHO the internet should not be mentioned explicitly. At most, the first amendment might be extended to include electronic communications. Plain and simple language is important, and specifics should be avoided.

            Yes, and one of the specifics to be avoided is the term "electronic". This would, for instance, tell the lawyers (and the Supreme Court) that optical fiber isn't covered, since it used photons rather than electrons.

            More generally, we should probably tackle the growing problem that, whenever a computer gets involved in any activity, all legal precedent is discarded, and all legal rights must be re-established from scratch. Thus, we see all sorts of limitations of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, etc., because we're doing those activities online rather than in the "real world", and the online world exists primarily inside computers (and their comm links). So people don't see the communications as "speech" or publishing or assembling together, or whatever; they see the communications as electronic and computerized. The US Constitution doesn't mention computers (or electronics or photonics or tachyonics or whatever follows), so the people in power don't think that the US Constitution applies.

            What we need is an Amendment that specifically states that our "free" activities can't be limited by the government regardless of the equipment that we use to carry them out. We need to find a way to prevent them from cancelling all the freedoms whenever a new technology comes along that improves our ability to carry out the protected activities. And we need a phrasing that covers new technologies in such a way that the more authoritarian members of the Supreme Court will understand that the freedoms still apply.

            (And I refuse to call them "conservatives". An actual conservative would want to preserve our historic freedoms, regardless of whatever newfangled gadgetry we're using to exercise them. These people are "authoritarians", because they support those in positions of authority who want to limit our rights whenever they can think up a new excuse to do so.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by operagost (62405)

          The US constitution was important because it put YOUR RIGHTS in simple English on a sheet of paper. You know your rights and therefore you can exercise them and you know when people try to take them away... AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

          Actually, the Constitution was meant to enumerate the rights of the federal and state governments. It also specifically excludes some known abuses of government, such as ex post facto laws. It's the amendments to it that specifically enumerated the rights of the people. Fou

      • Re:It already is... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:07AM (#38124068)

        There is no need to organize against this law. The day it gets signed (if ever) it will get overturned on first amendment grounds.

        oh, how cute. somehow who still believes the system works for us little folk.

        look, mate, the governments are totally and all inclusively in fear about the freedom equalization that the net brings to citizens. not one of them likes it. its against the control-concept of governments (every single one of them, by nature) to allow your ruled subjects to have this kind of power.

        "but its wrong!"

        yeah a lot of things are not just in this world. deal with it. you and I are the 99% and its how its always been and will always be.

        and when they want to take this and that from us, THEY DO AS THEY PLEASE. with little fight from us, usually.

        and they know it.

        we should at least realize it, too.

        and stop looking to the system to help you. the system IS the problem, don't you see that?

      • by theCoder (23772) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:43PM (#38126016) Homepage Journal

        Even if the courts ultimately found SOPA unconstitutional, it wouldn't happen the "day it gets signed". It would take years for a case to get to the Supreme Court level. And in the meantime, there would be quite a chilling effect on speech on the Internet.

        And there's always a chance that the powers that be would rely more on intimidation and bluffing rather than risk getting the law overturned. For example, it's remember all those technically illegal t-shirts and other things that have the DeCSS code printed on them? Since they were never prosecuted, the DMCA never got challenged. But there's still a chilling effect on Linux distributors (not to mention DVD player makers) to not distribute that code, just in fear of prosecution, and the costs that would entail.

        This is why it's important to stop bad laws BEFORE they become laws.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Actually, this is freedom of the press more than freedom of speech. "Press" is tech enhanced speech, which has been clearly different from speech since the 1700s when the 1st Amendment was created and agreed. Press freedom clearly includes the right of the people to read what's "printed" by the press; otherwise the freedom of the "printers" is meaningless.

      A Constitutional amendment might still be necessary, though. Just as the 4th Amendment clear definition of the right to privacy as "secure in their person

  • Not so fast (Score:4, Insightful)

    by imamac (1083405) on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:53AM (#38123302)
    You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sycodon (149926)

      But...Everyone has a right to download porn!

      • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rioki (1328185) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:00AM (#38123368) Homepage
        Actually not "the internet" but unfiltered internet ACCESS is what is should become a inalienable right. Like the right to read any book I chose...
        • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Entrope (68843) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:30AM (#38123654) Homepage

          So what happens if the government recognizes "unfiltered Internet access" as an inalienable right?

          imamac's point was that recognizing it as a right doesn't get you anywhere. It is like saying food security or access to medical care is an inalienable right: Somebody has to pay to provide it, and it requires the transfer of goods or services from one person to another. That makes it different from the things that we traditionally recognize as inalienable rights.

        • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nutria (679911) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:47AM (#38123824)

          Too many inalienable rights and you dilute the meaning. Same with people calling everyone in the armed forces a "hero".

          • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bardwick (696376) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:55AM (#38123922)
            Mod up. I served in the military during a time of war. I was stationed on an aircraft carrier. I was never shot at. Am I damn proud of my service? You betcha. Am I a hero, definatley not. I have no idea how I would react to getting shot at. Would I have the courage to run forward to help a wounded man? I would like to *think* that I would...
    • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:58AM (#38123348)

      You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

      You can't have all the cookies you want without a tummyache either, but WTF does this have to do with the topic?

      • Re:Not so fast (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:17AM (#38123522) Journal

        The internet is made up of other people's networks. One uses the internet through access provided, for profit, by other people. Making internet access an inalienable right would mean giving one group of people, those without internet access, a right to the property of other people, ISP owners. Also, it would require that people who have no means of access the internet (i.e. someone without a computer), the means to do so. Libraries, etc. are not acceptable because then the libraries would have to be open 24/7, otherwise the person "inalienable" right is being alienated for part of the day. Then, there is the small problem of content filtering. Libraries would be unable to prevent people from looking at hard core porn.

        Are you getting the idea?

        • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dog-Cow (21281) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:24AM (#38123598)

          That's not how it works. Free Speech is a right, but only idiots claim that means one can take over a private conference hall to make ones self heard. The right only means, as the Constitution states, that Congress shall make no law abridging this right. Similarly, an amendment to make Internet access an inalienable right would simply prevent Congress from taking it away. It would not mean that private enterprise or individuals would be forced to provide access.

          • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

            That is not what an "inalienable right" is. You should try looking up the meaning of things before making pronouncements.

            • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Aryden (1872756) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:32AM (#38124306)
              actually, it's exactly what it means : "a right according to natural law, a right that cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred". So he is correct. His version would mean that you can have access to the internet if you so choose, but that right cannot be taken away by the government at their leisure. It does not mean that private companies have to give it to you for free (see 2nd amendment, when was the last time you were given a free gun?)
              • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Informative)

                by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:00AM (#38124744) Journal

                The Second Amendment is not a right to a gun or a right to own a gun. It prevents one's right to bear an arm being infringed. The Second Amendment doesn't give the right, but rather assumes the right exists and denies the government the right to remove it.

                • by Aryden (1872756)
                  exactly, which is what those of us who understand the difference, want implemented with the internet. To deny the government the ability to deny or otherwise limit our ability to access the internet. With that being said, you could argue that the 2nd amendment is limited by the government dictating what types of firearms you are allowed to possess.
                • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by dryeo (100693) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:08PM (#38125574)

                  The first amendment includes freedom of the press, which obviously includes peoples access to the press. I've never heard of it meaning you get free newspapers, just that the government can't stop you from acquiring a newspaper of your choice. This would just be the same for the internet.

              • by pclminion (145572)

                actually, it's exactly what it means : "a right according to natural law, a right that cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred". So he is correct. His version would mean that you can have access to the internet if you so choose, but that right cannot be taken away by the government at their leisure.

                An inalienable right cannot be removed, and it cannot be granted either. Like you just said, according to "natural law" -- that means the right exists in the universe regardless of your ability to recogniz

        • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

          by careysub (976506) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:29AM (#38123648)

          The internet is made up of other people's networks. One uses the internet through access provided, for profit, by other people. Making internet access an inalienable right would mean giving one group of people, those without internet access, a right to the property of other people, ISP owners...

          Sorry, your reductionist approach in trying to make this a "property rights trump all" issue fails. Do you realize that ISPs run wire and fiber over other people's property left and right, due to easements granted by law without paying a penny? Those people are forced to accommodate the property of a private business, denying them unlimited use of that portion of their property. The ISPs are given special legal privileges in exchange for providing a service to the public, as well as the opportunity to make money.

          • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

            The government takes the easements for the benefit of the community at large. No easement, not power lines, no phone lines, no sewer lines, not water lines, The use of the easements comes with government mandated actions and oversight.

            • Which is why I wish my local government would grow a pair and actually place mandates on them and do a bit more of the oversight thing. If only they were actually regulated like the power or water company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vlm (69642)

      You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

      Luckily its about inalienable ACCESS to someone elses property.

      We're not talking about you having a right to own my suburban house without a valid sales contract or whatver. We're talking about you having the right to access my house, without the local PD arresting you enroute because they don't like black people in my lilly white city and DWB (driving while black) is a local municipal offense.

    • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Interesting)

      by masternerdguy (2468142) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:04AM (#38123398)
      The internet isn't someone else's property, the ISP's infrastructure is. Since most people need that infrastructure to access the internet, then you need cut the ISP out of the picture. You could provide a state owned ISP (scary) that's open to everyone, or we could do something more exotic like mesh networks.
      • by ATestR (1060586)
        But you also need hardware to access the Internet through the ISP. I definitely don't think that the it should be imperative on the State to provide individuals hardware so they can connect to the Internet... other than the computers down at the local library.
      • by bhtooefr (649901)

        There's plenty wrong with this petition (Obama isn't the king of America, and can't amend the constitution himself), but TFA actually wants a constitutional amendment prohibiting the government from censoring the internet.

        The problem is, there's so many loopholes in THAT...

        Also, there is a way that internet access could be prevented from being shut off, without going towards a state ISP - it could be handled like Obamacare, where insurance companies are forced to insure everyone, instead of dropping those w

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

      Mmm, I think most of us agree that there's a shift in the way the worth and value of intellectual property is measured. In the information economy, the value of a piece of work nowadays is not how much a copyright holder can manage to charge for it by withholding access to it, but instead by what cultural mindshare the work can amass from the population.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're looking at this backwards.

      You don't make an amendment saying, "The people have an inalienable right to access the internet."
      You make an amendment that says, "Congress shall make no laws denying the people access to the internet."

      Regulate Congress, not the industry.

      (It's still a dumb idea when we don't have an inalienable right to oh, say water or power...)

    • The "inalienable right to health care" also is an "inalienable right to someone else's property", so there is ample precedent.

      (Note that I think that basic health care should actually be provided to everybody, but that's cheap. The "right to health care" in US and European politics means universal access to expensive, state-of-the-art first world treatments, which is something entirely different.)

    • Re:Not so fast (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:20AM (#38123548) Homepage Journal

      You can't have an inalienable right to someone else's property.

      "Somebody else's property"?

      Who owns the internet, genius?

    • Re:Not so fast (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:26AM (#38123606)

      That's true, but we're not talking about property here, we're talking about ACCESS to property, public property I might add.

      What these guys are trying to do is limit our access to the internet. This is no different than your phone company only allowing you to call people that they approve. You still have to pay for your phone connection, but the phone company has no right whatsoever to tell you who you are allowed to call until you infringe upon that person's rights (i.e., harassing them). You can call whoever you want with a telephone, period.

      This is really no different than the concept of the internet. The ISPs can charge us for service, but they can't tell us who we can "talk" to online. We can talk to whoever we want because we're free citizens. Just TALKING to a bunch of people on, say, a forum for breaking the encryption on a new disc-based format (09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0, for instance? [wikipedia.org]) is not grounds to cut me off. I have every right to talk about that subject, this is a free country; up until the point that my actions actually break the law they are protected by it. End of story.

      Why is it so difficult for people to understand this point? We're not trying to make the internet a right as in "they have to give it to you for free". We're trying to make internet access a right, as in you can go wherever you want on the internet without your ISP, either for their own reasons or on someone's behalf, playing content police predetermining what you have a right to access, who you have a right to talk to, etc.

  • Sign it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:53AM (#38123304)

    (Posting AC from work)

    Show me a Canadian version of it and I'll sign! Imagine a world in which people would be banned from having access to a telephone. Seems pretty insane, right? Well, the internet is now in the same realm as phone access - it is a vital means of communication. Banning access to it is unacceptable. Sign it.

  • NOOOOOO! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bardwick (696376) on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:55AM (#38123318)
    No more rights!!! This is a dangerous precedent!!! We already have the right to internet access, don't you people understand???? We have the right to EVERYTHING that is not illegal. The only power the govt has is to REMOVE certain rights (which i agree with). If we run down this road of "We, the GOVERNMENT" did not "grant" the right to internet access, the whole thing falls down. Things like this scare the shit out of me. Every single law that is passed has one thing in common, it limits your rights (which, again, is a good thing, felons with guns, etc..).
    • by vlm (69642)

      Every single law that is passed has one thing in common, it limits your rights (which, again, is a good thing, felons with guns, etc..).

      Why is it good that a guy who shared a mp3 file online, and a guy who cheated on his taxes at age 20, can't go deer hunting at age 65? You make a good point, then epic fail the same exact point.

  • duh (Score:4, Funny)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:58AM (#38123352) Homepage Journal

    how do you tell your robot helicopter which truck to land on if you don't have access to the internet?

  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:01AM (#38123376) Homepage Journal
    It is an inalienable right.

    Consider what would be like if someone attempted to pass a law that says people should not talk with loud voices in public spaces. Or, people should not talk in groups bigger than 2. that would basically totally neutralize your right to free speech as you used it through your own, inalienable voice. it would basically alienate your right to speak, with your inalienable throat. this would totally end free speech back in ages where there wasnt technology like newspapers, tv, internet.

    Or, consider a law that banned anyone from printing and publishing anything without consent from king's council. that would basically end free speech circa 1774. no pamphlet, or newspaper would be published that king didnt allow. notice, how pamphlets, newspapers had had taken over your sole, single throat as the medium free speech was conducted back at that time.

    Fast forward to today. This isnt no different. internet is the medium that free speech is conducted - but actually more - its the best avenue for free speech. you restrict it, and you restrict free speech. It has taken over throat, newspapers/print medium and tv as the vehicle of free speech. Notice that i skipped the radio and tv era. that is because there has never been free speech in that era, due to the license/financial requirements they had.

    internet is now our throats. cutting people off from internet, is like cutting their throats so there wont be free speech.
  • by blcamp (211756) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:02AM (#38123380) Homepage

    Does that mean the staff of your ISP has to be hauled into The Hague and charged with Crimes Against Humanity, for denying you of your "human rights"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642)

      Does that mean the staff of your ISP has to be hauled into The Hague and charged with Crimes Against Humanity, for denying you of your "human rights"?

      If they carefully and systemically removed access solely to certain minorities while providing better service exclusively to members of the 1%, then yeah, sounds good to me.

      There are no non-monopoly ISPs in my area, thats they price they pay for the government enforcing a monopoly. If they wanted a free market, they should have paid the govt for one instead of paying the govt for a legally enforced non-free market.

      • by J'raxis (248192)

        So maybe the solution is to break the monopoly rather than passing more regulations to fix existing unfair regulations. Or, when these new regulations don't work, we could just do the same thing over again and pass more regulations hoping it'll work this time. And when that still doesn't work, we can always pass more.

    • Is your nearest major newspaper required to publish all of your comments because of your right to free speech? Does a game developer get dragged into court for using a profanity filter to censor things you write?

      Private corporations are under no requirement to facilitate your rights using their own property, though they do have a requirement to not abridge your rights without you having first waived them. So long as other ISPs exist in your area and there's no external factor keeping you from jumping to oth

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      This is not "the right to use the internet". This would make it an "inalienable right", meaning that if one does not have the means to access the internet, the government would have to provide the means. Also, it would mean places like libraries couldn't prevent someone from looking at hard core porn or downloading viruses. In fact, it might even mean places like Kinko's would be prevented from charging for internet access.

    • Unfortunately EU law doesn't seem to actually mean very much. France has been going around and banning people from the internet. That's actually kind of behind what the US does.

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111004/13463316198/france-continues-mass-processing-infringement-accusations-60-people-get-third-strike-notice-650000-get-first-strike.shtml [techdirt.com]

  • Good luck with that. (Score:5, Informative)

    by grahamd0 (1129971) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:05AM (#38123406)

    By signing this petition, you are demanding the Obama Administration to add an amendment to the Constitution that limits the power of the Government from being able to censor the Internet.

    Even if someone somehow got the impression that the Obama administration did not fully support the pro-copyright laws mentioned in the petition, the president cannot simply "add an amendment" to the constitution. The process by which amendments are added to the constitution is specified in Article V. Here it is so you don't have to bother looking it up:

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

    Note that the president has no official role in the process.

    Secondly: sorry folks, Obama is not your guy in this one, even if he could amend the constitution. Frankly, I'd very surprised to see anti-corporate-copyright opinion taken seriously by any presidential administration in my lifetime. You don't get to be in that position by making an enemy of Big Media.

    • You don't get to be in that position by making an enemy of Big Media.

      I've often wondered about this. What would happen if a president(ial candidate) won the election by having their campaign financed by Big Media and then, upon taking office, worked their ass off passing a bunch of pro-consumer, pro-private-citizen laws that effectively knife the Big Media sponsors in the back? Would they win a 2nd term if the people were happy enough? Would Congress act to override vetos on bend-consumers-over-the-barrel legislation? To put on my tinfoil conspiracy hat for a minute, wou

  • A REALLY bad idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135)

    By making something like internet access an inalienable right, the government would be required to ensure every single person in the United States has not only access to an internet connection, but also a means of connection. The government would be required to buy people computers or smart phones. And, if a person lost, broke, or sold his computer, the government would be required to give him a new one because without a computer, he would not have inalienable right to internet access.

    Also, the government w

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:20AM (#38123546)

      Oh Pooh. The right to free speech doesn't make others pay for the pamphlets you print. The right of free speech also doesn't give you the right to solicit prostitutes or send out offers for illegal drugs in the mail. The right to bear arms doesn't give you the right to shoot people.

      This is how internet access should be approached.

      Congress shall make no law prohibiting the access of any person to the internet.

      See?

    • This is exactly what went through my mind initially too.

      However, upon reading more understood that- whereas they say it is to make it an inalienable right- what they really are after is an amendment forbidding censorship.

      That in itself is a problem. So the government can not take down child pron sites? Terrorists communicating attacks?

      (sure, they are breaking other laws so you can arrest the perps if you find them- but not allowing censorship means they wouldn't be able to take the sites down- regardless

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:11AM (#38123464)

    already covered by:

    """
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    """

    And if it's "they ignore that" then why do they think some new amendment wouldn't be ignored in exactly the same way?

  • This will mostly result in the supreme court ruling that "The Internet" is actually defined as

    1) pdf.irs.gov (or pubs.irs.gov or whatever), army.mil, basically all federal level marketing websites.
    2) maybe some mechanism to allow state and local government websites
    3) some mechanism to allow "related" and "quisling" sites like the federal-reserve.com, and quisling sites like republican.com, democrat.com. Categorically exclude libertarian.com, etc.
    4) Possibly religious websites, if they need the votes of the

  • The petition states that its goal is to prevent the US government from censoring the Internet. That has nothing to do with the idea of making the Internet an unalienable right.

    If you declare Internet access to be an unalienable right, you are inviting government intervention to provide everyone with an Internet connection. This is not great. If you want a preview of the consequences, just visit any inner-city emergency room and ask them how EMTALA is working out for them.

    Meanwhile, you have done nothing at

  • First Amendment [usconstitution.net]

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

    The right to assemble applies to cyberspace, not just meatspace. Furthermore, the right to freedom of press is meaningless without the right to assemble to give the person your leaflet. Even though the document is over 200 years old, already it made first-class acknowledgement of technology: the printing press, a major technological leap from the fifteenth century. The Constitution is technology-aware. The Internet is the new press, and to prevent publication on it or to prevent receiving publications from it is unconsitutional.

    Of course, this is meaningless with a Constitution that is not just routinely ignored, but at this point completely dead. Although the Constitution has been dying for the past century, the watershed moment for me came last month when a U.S. judge nullified the War Powers Act [wsj.com] and put the capacity for declaration of war completely in the Executive Branch. Worse than the actual court decision, is that no one noticed or cared.

    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:48AM (#38123834)

      Of course, this is meaningless with a Constitution that is not just routinely ignored, but at this point completely dead. Although the Constitution has been dying for the past century, the watershed moment for me came last month when a U.S. judge nullified the War Powers Act [wsj.com] and put the capacity for declaration of war completely in the Executive Branch. Worse than the actual court decision, is that no one noticed or cared.

      Except, per your reference, the judge did none of that. He simply stated the lawmakers bringing suit had no standing to do so; they did it as private citizens. The case was not a test of Constitutional powers (which would go to the supremes) but yet another simple case of individuals using the courts to further their agenda.

      While the question of what rights does the President have to send troops, in his role of CiC and as a furtherance of his diplomatic powers, and what powers does Congress have to limit such actions is interesting; this was not a test case for that.

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      We do not have "[t]he right to assemble...to freedom of press..." etc.

      We have a right from "law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble". There is a big difference.

      We have rights from the government making laws prohibiting certain things because the Constitution assumes that rights are inherent to the people and the government puts in place laws to limit those rights as needed by civil society. The rights FROM certain laws exist to protect what

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:13AM (#38124112) Homepage Journal

    A Constitutional amendment might be necessary. Just as the 4th Amendment clear definition of the right to privacy as "secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects" doesn't force the government to protect our privacy instead of invading it, the 1st Amendment doesn't force the government to protect our speech and press freedoms. (In fact it has never protected our religious freedoms, since it's been turned on its head making Congress respect establishments of religion in tax exemptions while requiring them to operate their establishments in ways exempted from free speech and press exemptions.) The Constitution that creates the only powers our government legitimately holds needs amendments clarifying our rights in modern language that lawyers don't find so easy to pervert.

    One amendment would simply state that Congress shall protect the right to freedom of religion, making no law that includes distinctions on the basis of religion, and protects the rights to freedom of the press and of speech by making no law that infringes on them without due process. Another amendment would simply state that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects is the right to privacy. Might as well go the next step in stating that the right to keep and bear arms necessary to supplying a militia that defends a free state is protected from infringement by law. All these clarifications make the Constitution direct the government to actually protect our freedoms, rather than allow weasel words (and weasel lawyers) to get the government to abuse our freedoms.

    We need another amendment that states that a person is only any individual human who can understand these rights. That eliminates the corporate "person", and even the related fetal "person" that some people have used get the government to increasingly deprive real people our rights. In fact, if we passed that amendment first, the others might not be necessary.

  • by FridayBob (619244) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:38AM (#38124384) Homepage

    On the one hand we have a society that is making it increasingly difficult for people to function normally (buy things, pay bills, find government information, etc.) without access to the Internet. On the other we have corporations that 1.) are trying to criminalize whatever we do on the Internet as much as they can in order to increase their profit margins, and 2.) have way too much money and influence on our governments, meaning that they will attempt endlessly to push their agendas until they succeed. A Constitutional amendment would be a good way to put a stop to their attempts once and for all.

    Okay, so what about the really bad guys out their, distributing spam, viruses, kiddy-porn -- wouldn't they then also have an inalienable right to Internet access? Well, yes, but those people can also be fined and/or incarcerated.

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