Internet inventor: Poor people deserve livelihoods, not websites

Internet inventor: Poor people deserve livelihoods, not websites

Declaring Internet access a human right would dilute the rights that matter more, says Internet pioneer Vint Cerf. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vint_Cerf_-_2010.jpg">Veni Markovski (Wikimedia)</a>
Declaring Internet access a human right would dilute the rights that matter more, says Internet pioneer Vint Cerf. Photo: Veni Markovski (Wikimedia)

Get real: The Internet isn't a human right.

That's the message from a man often credited with inventing the Internet, Vint Cerf. Writing in The New York Times yesterday, Cerf, who now works for Google, argued that human rights are "things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives":

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.

Today's Internet—publicly developed but privately owned and financed—is a key tool in toppling kleptocracies and enriching millions of poor farmers. So Cerf's position is provocative. But it's a reminder that those of us who believe in markets' power to help solve poverty shouldn't cling too tightly to any single "market-based solution."

That wouldn't be market-based at all.

Curated news and insights about innovative, market-driven solutions to poverty explored through news, commentary and discussion.

Learn more »

Global Envision newsletter