I am here at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum in Macau (I really wish they’ll agree on the English spelling; My visa says Macao; Government signboards here say Macau; my spell checker seems to prefer Macau). MAC representative Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul haq Inu, M.P., said in his address, as he always does, that Internet is a basic human right.
As Vint Cerf said, it is problematic to designate Internet as a basic human right. The right to seek information, for example, is okay, but designating a particular technology is silly, he says. I agree.
But what galls me is that this statement comes from a member of the Bangladesh Cabinet (a very nice man, without question), but one intelligent enough to understand that you can’t both say that Internet is a human right and tax the hell out of it.
I’ve never said Internet should be exempt from tax. I don’t buy this human-right theory anyway. All I say is it, along with voice telephony, should not be subject to additional industry/technology specific taxes. So all I ask is, treat mobile/Internet like everything else. Or if you honestly believe it is a basic human right, walk the talk and cut the taxes to below what are levied on other things.