Martin van Staden wrote in a De Rebus article that, insofar as the liberty of the individual is concerned, internet access is certainly a  human right. However, for a human right to be of a “human” nature, it must be a universal human right. In other words, it must be the kind of right that must belong to  all human beings. These type of rights must have existed for as long as human beings have existed, regardless of the fact that they were only recently named.

Our Constitution did not create new rights. It simply acknowledged those rights that were already universally regarded as human rights and enshrined them in our Constitution. So: Section (16)(1)(a) provides that everyone has freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media. Section (16)(1)(b) provides that everyone has the right to receive and impart information or ideas.

This means that every South African is entitled to internet access and information without government interference. However, it does not mean that everyone is entitled to have an internet connection at the taxpayers’ expense.

Vint Cerf says that:”technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself.”

Therefore, internet access is not a right in the legal sense.

Is Internet Toegang ‘N Basiese Mensereg?

Martin van Staden het in ‘n prokureurstydskrif ‘n artikel geskryf waarin hy hierdie kwessie bespreek. Sover dit die vryheid van ‘n individu aangaan, is toegang tot die internet seer sekerlik ‘n menslike reg. Maar vir ‘n menslike reg om van ‘n menslike aard te wees, moet dit ‘n universele mensereg wees. Met ander woorde, dit moet die tipe reg wees wat aan alle menslike wesens behoort. Hierdie tipe regte moes reeds bestaan het vir solank as wat die mensdom bestaan, ongeag die feit dat hierdie regte onlangs eers erkenning ontvang het.

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Grondwet het nie nuwe regte geskep nie. Dit bevestig slegs daardie regte wat reeds universeel as menseregte aanvaar was en verskans die regte in ons Grondwet. Artikel (16)(1)(a) bepaal dat elkeen die vryheid van spraak het, wat insluit vryheid van die pers en ander media. Artikel (16)(1)(b) bepaal dat elkeen die reg het om inligting of idees te ontvang en te versprei.

Dit beteken dat elke Suid-Afrikaner geregtig is tot internet toegang en inligting sonder dat die regering met daardie reg mag inmeng. Maar dit beteken nie dat elkeen geregtig is om ‘n internet konneksie of toegang te hê waarvoor die belastingbetalers moet betaal nie.

Vint Cerf sê:”tegnologie is ‘n bemagtiger van regte, nie ‘n reg opsigself nie.”

Derhalwe, is toegang tot die internet nie ‘n reg in die wetlike sin nie.