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Access. Rights. Privileges.

February 19, 2010

DISCLAIMER: the following post is for a masters class on contemporary media issues.

Access. Rights. Privilege.

Seventy-four percent of the citizens of the United States have access to the Internet. Sounds great, right? Statistically speaking, it’s a high solid number that suggests that something is working right. But lets look at the flip side: 26% of the country does not have access to the Internet. One out of four people in the most prosperous nation in the world does not have access to what some would argue is one of the most important resources, past food & water. Is the Internet a right? A privilege? Should everyone have access?

Access. Rights. Privilege.

Mergers. Companies love them,but if private citizens were paying closer attention, they would play the role of hater. Each time one of these companies merge with another, we lose choices. We lose competition. We get higher prices, fewer channels, less opportunity. But do we gain anything? Is there a possibility that in combining forces, we get stronger ideas, better ideas in exchange for less? Is this a quality versus quantity issue?  With access to less, do we have the right to expect better, just as you would expect more from a group project than from that of a single individual?

Access. Rights. Privileges.

Do these issues of internet access and mergers of major communications corporations tie into the broader spectrum of rights that we have as a nation, the rights that democracy provide us? Does access to the internet, to information, inhibit our ability to stay informed? Do these mergers and the control that they now have hold power over the regulations that the government attempts to write?

Access. Rights. Privileges.

These are the issues of the day. These are the issues that no one has answers to, whether from studying the emergence of prior technologies or from future projections. Who is responsible for finding the answers to these questions and solving the controversy around these issues? This week, I’ve been given a lot to think about, on the topics of access, rights, and privileges and the answers are still swimming around in my head. Maybe I can do some fishing this weekend.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 22, 2010 6:22 am

    The whole “is Internet access a right or a privilege?” question really is fascinating. Counties like Finland and South Korea absolutely consider it a right, and thus are engaged in massive government-financed projects to build the infrastructure. Here in the U.S., that’s not the case, so it falls to the profit motive to extend access. Given that a large number of Americans don’t even consider basic health care a right, I doubt we’ll see that view towards Internet access change anytime soon.

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