Spain Says Broadband Is A Basic Right

from the that's-another-one dept

Slashdot alerts us to the news that Spain will be following Finland's lead in declaring broadband as a basic legal right. I'm still not convinced that declaring it as a full legal right makes sense, but it does show how important broadband is becoming to society. It will be interesting to see how this growing trend matches up with the efforts from the entertainment industry to have countries pass laws to kick people off the internet for file sharing. It would certainly appear that the two positions are not compatible.

Filed Under: broadband, rights, spain


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2009 @ 2:59am

    "I'm still not convinced that declaring it as a full legal right makes sense,"

    From a European point of view I think it does, and definitely from a Scandinavian point of view. General internet savviness is much higher in Europe than in the US, and I say that as a sysadmin/it tech support person that have worked 10 years in Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area, where computer literacy I would assume is much higher than in other part of the US. And having worked 5 years in Sweden and Denmark.

    15 years ago the Swedish government made sure that every house hold had at least one computer through a government program called "home computer". For less than $5 a month, you'd get a state of the art Windows or Mac machine, and the over all incentive was to increase the computer literacy of the population. It worked, and now Sweden has a votable P2P friendly "Pirate Party" on its rosters, and I'd say that is as a result of an advanced computer and internet culture.

    Another drive in Europe since at least 10 years is the ECDL (European Computer Driver's License). Most companies who use computers require that their employees take this test to ensure that their staff can handle the computer equipment made available to them. It teaches basics such as file and folder creation and organization, how to use MS Office, how to use a browser and search engines, etc. People were able to study on their assigned home computers, or on company time (the program is not in effect anymore). Individual companies then followed up with company specific training.

    ECDL is also taught in school, and all kids that leave high school generally leave with an ECDL. Unemployed people that signed up for the equivalent of EDD, the first thing they are taught is ECDL to make them more attractice in the work place. They also teach computers in Senior Citizen's homes so the elderly can reach out to family and access news.

    Enter Internet connections. I used a modem in the early nineties when I lived in Sweden. When I met my wife who's a aerospace engineer working in the heart Silicon Valley with advanced computer simulations and programming, a few years ago, she was accessing the Internet via a 56.6 telephone modem (?). Aside from that modem connections - to my vast astonishment - are still marketed in the US, Northern California relies heavily on over priced DSL connections for private individuals. A slow often filtered DSL connection in the US, cost as much as a 100/mb broadband connection in Sweden. US companies rely on "business DSL" (which would be considered normal DSL in Sweden, where it still exist in some areas), T1 or T3. As comparison, most schools and senior citizen's homes in Sweden have faster Internet connection than your average small business in the US. Why?

    About 12 years ago the Swedish government put in a bid for enhancing its national internet infrastructure and built a nationwide redundant backbone for tax money. The ISPs were then to handle "the last kilometer". The motivation to do this was a combination of having to use less trees for government services, to be able to automate common requests, to support Swedish business and Universities, defense, and other reasons.

    As a result, when I worked for a Swedish University in the mid-nineties I had a 155/MB pipe next door and was accessing the Internet through a 100/MB Switch. I haven't looked lately, but Gigabit has been standard for a while now so I'm sure it's at least ten times as fast as when I left about 10-12 years ago.

    All this to say, after this development and internet evolution in Europe, yes, Internet is seen as a basic right since it is through the Internet you can access your basic citizen services, and largely conduct your personal communication with the world. The vast majority of Scandinavians have done their banking via the Internet for a good while now, and in my step dad's case, that's basically the only thing he does with the computer and internet. He's not into internet culture at all, but when he does use computers and internet it it's to calculate personal finances, pay taxes, and deal with the bank - which I think says a lot about the attitude towards this technology. In the US, dealing with personal finances tend to be something only and "advanced user" would do, and people still write checks and update their notes by hand, something that was outdated before I started using banks, and I'm born in the mid-60s. Every 3rd year, election year, the topic of having people vote via the Internet comes up (but it always fall short of security reasons).

    So there it is. Internet needs to be a basic citizen right in developed nations, to handle personal communication, to interact with schools and universities (schedules, grades, lectures), to conduct business, and to access government services.

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