Doug Mataconis on Egypt's decision to cut off internet access to its citizens:
The most recent events in Egypt caused some to ponder a question that, on its face, sounds ludicrous: Has society reached the point at which Internet access is a basic human right? Is this public outcry just 21st-century indignation – one born of a world where “social networking” is nearly always something that happens in front of a screen?
Only in a land of First World concerns could the lack of Internet access be considered a violation of basic rights. They have no bread? Let them eat Google.
That last point is something worth considering. The protests in Egypt aren’t just political in nature, there are also deep, ongoing economic problems in the country, most especially the fact that the cost-of-living for the average Egyptian has skyrocketed in recent years. Like most nations in the Middle East, Egypt is far from a free market economy so when the people have economic discontent it quickly becomes political discontent. In the long run, I’d imagine Egyptians are more concerned about the cost of housing and the fact that there’s high unemployment than they are about whether or not they can access Facebook.
Is internet access a right? I'd say "no" because the resources used to give us internet access are scarce, like those that produce "health care". Saying that someone has a right to scarce resources means someone else has an obligation to give the same resources up without compensation.