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The Internet Your Rights Online

Spain Codifies the "Right To Broadband" 312

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-cut-me-off-bro dept.
Reader adeelarshad82 writes to lets us know that Spain has now codified a "Right to Broadband," thus following the lead of Finland. Spain's industry minister announced that citizens will have a legal right from 2011 to be able to buy broadband Internet access of at least 1 Mb/sec at a regulated price wherever they live. The telecoms operator holding the so-called "universal service" contract would have to guarantee it could offer "reasonably" priced broadband throughout Spain.
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Spain Codifies the "Right To Broadband"

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't blame the Spanish for setting a relatively 'low' speed requirement, blame the modern slew of Web developers who insist on bloating their pages with graphics, animation and JavaShit that only their own Core 2 Trio can handle. Blame the guys who insist on using verbose protocols without compression, blame the guys who maintain that 'Web applications' are the past, present and future. Using a web application makes as much sense as using a satellite phone to talk to the guy standing next to you

    Give mod
    • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:47AM (#30141596) Journal

      Maybe I'm answering to a flamebait, but theres nothing wrong with web applications. Many people want to have their email in webmail instead of using a client. Many people write to forums, news sites and sites like slashdot instead of newsgroups (as you seem to do too). Many people are perfectly fine using twitter and facebook for communicating (facebook even has that IM "client"). And because bandwidth is considerably cheap now a days (well in some countries at least, and it's getting there everywhere too), it becomes easier for people to upload a video file to a web service to convert it to another format than to download all the required codecs and find a software that can do it. Remember that majority of people aren't geeks.

      That doesn't mean there's no desktop application alternatives and that you couldn't use them. I do for email, IM and many more things because it suits me better. But it doesn't mean other people couldn't do otherwise.

      If you do not like those web applications developed by "modern hipster web devs", just don't use them and let people who like them use.

      (and 1mbps is the minimum guaranteed speed in the news)

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:02AM (#30141688)

        You've confused efficiency with convenience.

        A good developer will attend to function first and form second. Part of function is efficiency.
        A bad developer barely even understands the concept of efficiency and function is frequently their last priority - just barely enough of a requirement to justify the site in the first place.

        Look at slashdot for fuck's sake - you can't even metamod without javascript.
        Like we need fucking javascript to click a fucking radio button for good/bad/no-rating?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:23AM (#30141792)

          a good web developer focuses on form _and_ function. In web development space, at least, they are equally important. things have to look as good as well as they perform. why is it that people always think it has to be one or the other.

          maybe at slashdot at least, people here generally prefer the function part.

          • by daveime (1253762)

            In our day, we dint av any of these fancy bloody web applications.

            We had to make do with everythin in 24 point Times New Roman Marquee, in black, white, cyan or magenta mind you. And for graphics we ad ASCII art. And none of this bloody Javascript nonsense either. If you wanted to submit a form, you filled it in bloody right the first time, and then submitted it ... if you'd fucked something up, you ad to redo the bloody thing from scratch as a lesson to be more bloody careful next time.

            Now git off my lawn.

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              We had to make do with everythin in 24 point Times New Roman Marquee

              And yet, somehow, we were able to read those sites, unlike many websites today that make your eyes spin like pinwheels.

          • by Jurily (900488)

            things have to look as good as well as they perform. why is it that people always think it has to be one or the other.

            Because "both" requires smart web developers, and they're a scarce resource.

        • by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:27AM (#30141810)
          "A good developer will attend to function first and form second."
          Depends on the application...

          "Part of function is efficiency."
          And part of efficiency/functionality is form.
        • Form == Function (Score:2, Insightful)

          by LKM (227954)

          A good developer will attend to function first and form second.

          A function that is not exposed in a form users can understand might as well not exist at all.

  • Not a "right"! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:36AM (#30141544)
    This is not a "right" to anything. These people need to look up the definition and history of what a "right" is.

    This is merely a law that regulates the Internet providers, requiring them to offer service to everybody for a regulated price. That's a regulation on the business side, not a "right" on the consumer's side. There is a pretty big difference. If it were a "right", it would not cost anything.

    We have similar laws. For example, within certain geographical limits, my local utility is required to offer me electricity at a regulated rate, no matter who I am. It's exactly the same kind of law. But that doesn't mean I have a "right" to electricity! If I get too far behind on my bill it can get shut off. It's merely the ability to buy something, not a "right" to it. If I had a "right" to electricity, nobody could legally shut it off.
    • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Razalhague (1497249) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:45AM (#30141588) Homepage
      It's a right to buy.
      • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @08:01AM (#30142274) Journal

        Yesterday I heard people saying it's okay for President Obama to block FOX's access to the white house press pool. They said "FOX has a right to freedom of the press. They don't have the right to access." Couldn't the same argument be made about internet? You have the right to buy any product you want, but that doesn't mean you have a right to broadband access. Everyone already had dialup access. Thoughts? Objections?

        (No this is not a troll. This is the Socratic method (asking questions; making people think).)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851)
          No, a similar argument couldn't be made. I have a right to free speech however I do not have the right to libel anybody I wish. I have the right to swing my fist, but it stops at somebody else's nose.

          Fox News has a right to free speech, but they don't have the right to force people on the air so that they can engage in their style of sleazy news reporting.

          And it's not really the same at all, not even close, Fox News doesn't further the discourse in this country. Whereas people really do need to have b
          • And it's not really the same at all, not even close, Fox News doesn't further the discourse in this country.

            Hint: The First Amendment isn't limited to those who "further discourse in this country". Keeping FOX out of the White House is teetering right on the edge of violating the First Amendment.

            And I expect that a Supreme Court challenge would come down on FOX's side, not the President's, if FOX bothered to make one.

        • You certainly could say that, if you wanted to; but that isn't what the Spanish did.

          Ignoring the (idealistically interesting but practically useless) quibbling about whether some rights are "natural" and merely enforced by law and others are "artificial" and created by law, you can pretty much define a "right" in any form.

          You could say: "You have the right to buy any product you want; but no particular right to have any product offered to you".

          You could say: "You have the right to buy any product y
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Of course it's okay for Obama to block Fox', or anybody else's, access to the White House press pool. The First Amendment doesn't guarantee access, it just allows people to say and print what they've got. This isn't a matter of an inherent right to be in the press pool or my underwear drawer or wherever.

          Similarly, Spain's decision isn't a matter of inherent rights. They're creating a legal right to broadband access, just like in most civilized places people have a legal right to electrical and phone s

    • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:5, Informative)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:49AM (#30141608) Journal

      It's a right to get at least a 1mbps internet connection at reasonable price. It is still a right.

      • I only have 0.7 Mbit/sec. I don't consider my rights to have been violated. High-speed access is a *luxury* not a right, same as having an Honda Acura instead of a cheap Honda econocar is a luxury not a right.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Jedi Alec (258881)

          I only have 0.7 Mbit/sec. I don't consider my rights to have been violated. High-speed access is a *luxury* not a right, same as having an Honda Acura instead of a cheap Honda econocar is a luxury not a right.

          That is your opinion. However, in Spain and in Finland They The People have chosen otherwise.

          However, that concept stems from the idea that rights are a human concept which people decide everyone is entitled to, not something which all men have because another man interpreting a possible non-existant m

        • If you were in Spain once the legislation is passed, the slowest connection you would have is 1 mb

    • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:58AM (#30141668)

      Then, all the spanish constitution is wrong.
      It says things like "you have the right of a worthy house"
      (meaning that the government will try that everybody should be able to buy a acceptable house)

      (Sorry for my horrible english).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Wrong! It says, literally: "All the Spanish people have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing" That doesn't mean you have the right to OWN one.
      • Yep the Spanish constitution is wrong. So too is the U.S. constitution when it discusses copy "rights".

        These are not inalienable, instinctive, natural rights. They are temporary government-granted privileges of monopoly, typically at the expense of your neighbors who are footing the bill (either directly or indirectly).

    • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:5, Informative)

      by dingen (958134) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:01AM (#30141686)

      If I had a "right" to electricity, nobody could legally shut it off.

      I don't know about the situation in your country, but here in the Netherlands your water supply is not free, but you also cannot be cut off, because every citizen has the right to running water in their house. The same thing goes with gas during winter, because you cannot deny people the ability to warm their homes, even if they don't pay for it.

      Education is another example. It's not only a right, it's even mandatory for children under 16, even though there is a fee to have your kid in a school.

      Having the right to something doesn't mean you get it for free.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Walzmyn (913748)

        No it's not a right. It's a guarantee. "If you pay this contractor, we guarantee this contractor will provide this minimal service."

        If it were a right, then you would have a right to these people (the contractors) work, that's called slavery.

        It's the same thing with this so-called right to healthcare here in the states. You might have a right not to be denied service because of your skin color or country of birth but you do not have a "right" to the efforts of other individuals.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Lehk228 (705449)
          it's not slavery any more than my federal and state taxes make me a slave. stop being stupid.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            Even if the taxes were raised to 100%? You're still not a slave? (Just something to think about.)

            What about the concept of partial slavery? The typical American pays ~40% in total taxes. So in essence you're a slave the first ~40% of the year (upto May 10) and don't achieve total freedom from taxation until after.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              I guess I should explain this better. Let's say you have a $100,000/year salary. The first ~$40,000 is not yours. It belongs to the government and while you are earning that first $40K you are a slave to Uncle Sam.

              • by amplt1337 (707922)

                The first ~$40,000 is not yours. It belongs to the government and while you are earning that first $40K you are a slave to Uncle Sam.

                Hogwash.
                You can quit your $100,000-a-year job if you choose, and the government can do nothing to stop you. This is not true of a slave. In fact, if you quit after earning only $30,000, you will owe (using the average rate blah blah blah) $12,000.
                Taxes are neither slavery nor corvee labor. They are a sliding-scale fee for access to the services which government provides.

                Describing taxation as even partial slavery makes about as much sense as saying that if you make $10,000 a year and pay $200 to take you

            • There was a famous Danish author (I forget her name) who raised a protest once because she was taxed over 100% of her income that year.

              There was also an Italian prime minister who once admitted that if the government collected all the taxes on the books, people would be paying 110% of their income.

              When you're not allowed to work and earn income without someone else's permission (and giving them their cut, which may be the whole thing), it certainly is slavery.

            • Slavery is being forced to work. Nobody is forced to work - just that if you do, part of the condition is that you have to pay a tax, and can't claim any arbitrary amount of money that I like as a salary.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                >>>Nobody is forced to work - just that if you do, part of the condition is that you have to pay a tax

                This argument presumes the government existed first, the people later, and that government "gives" us our jobs, and ~40% is the fee for that privilege.

                I have a differing view - the people were first, converting our body's labor to property is a natural right, and the government's officials should be thanking us for *allowing* them to have jobs, rather than fire the whole lot of them.

                • All physical property depends on material resources which preexisted your birth, or any other human being's birth.

                  Therefore it's not a "natural right" to claim exclusivityover any material object - to call any material object your property.

                  Property is a legal right which people through their governments uphold, because it's a very *useful* legal right (as it incentivizes work and wealth-production, and defends us from each other's parasitism). But claiming it a "natural right" is merely a form of superstiti

              • by pentalive (449155)
                Oh you can claim any arbitrary ammount of money as a salary - It's called "wage negotiation" and if you claim too high a number you won't get hired. If you work for yourself your product might be too expensive so you sell none. Claim all you want - see if the market bears it. (Grammer Nazi please help with the non animal proper type of bear...)
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                "Nobody is forced to work"

                If you don't work you die. I mean that in the most fundamental way possible. Assume you and your family are stranded on a desert island. How do you survive ? By our nature we are given life but we must engage in certain actions in order to sustain it. That action is productive labour, or "work."

                If you don't work, but you are able to sustain your life, it can only be through the productive efforts of others. Someone has to produce your food, your clothing, your shelter etc. So while

            • If you don't want to pay taxes, you have several options: leave or a fiscal paradise, or produce your own sustenance in the middle of nowhere.

              If you live in an organized society taxes ensure that everybody gets a wide package of services that ensure you can attain civilized living.

        • "If you pay this contractor, we guarantee this contractor will provide this minimal service."

          But he doesn't have to pay. And it's not called slavery, it's the conditions if you to agree if you want to provide that service, but no one forces you to enter that business. It's no more slavery than an EULA.

        • by dingen (958134)

          No it's not a right. It's a guarantee. "If you pay this contractor, we guarantee this contractor will provide this minimal service."

          The right we're talking about here is not the fact you will get service from a contracter when you pay him for it. The right is there will be a contractor available for you if you desire the service. That right is totally free, even though the service is not.

      • by SQL Error (16383)

        Having the right to something doesn't mean you get it for free.

        Yes it does.

        If you have to pay for it, it's not a right, it's just a commodity.

        • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by BeardsmoreA (951706) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:48AM (#30141900) Homepage
          All of this is nit picking over the definition of the word 'right'. It has more than one meaning! Generally, the precise meaning is determined by who we are saying is 'giving' the right - and in the case of 'basic human rights' we usually imply that either 'the natural order of things' or $DEITY 'gave' the rights. All rights do not have to be innate though - I can contractually give you a right of access across my land. In the case of TFA we are talking about a government / constitutionally granted right. Ok? Can we all stop arguing semantics now? Kthx.
        • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fnj (64210) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @07:07AM (#30141992)

          Wrong, actually. Just because you have a right to free speech does not mean your nanny state has to bus you wherever you want to go to vent your spleen, build you a platform, buy you a bullhorn, and dragoon a bunch of losers into listening to you stammer, ramble, and make an ass of yourself.

          Or, what if your declaration of independence asserts that you have a right to life. That doesn't mean your nanny state has to give you an armored car so nobody shoots you, a chauffeur so you don't hit a tree while you're texting, and a bulletproof vest for when you are shopping or watching the opera. They don't have to stop traffic so nobody can collide with you. They don't have to clothe and feed you so you don't die of exposure or starve to death. They don't have to wipe your ass so flies don't gather and give you a disease. They don't have to watch you 24x7 and come and put you on life support every time you overdose on some self indulgence, let alone stop you doing it in the first place.

          The right to broadband mentioned in the article says that no matter where you live, somebody has to OFFER to sell you broadband at a reasonable price. That's a DAMN sight more than you get in the U.S. on this subject.

      • by sorak (246725)

        So are there any negative repercussions for people who refuse to pay for these things?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dingen (958134)
          Obviously yes. You get into a world of hurt if you don't pay your bills. You could even let things get so much out of hand they will take a portion of your salary to pay for your unpaid bills. The fact you're never denied service doesn't mean the problems don't stack up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi (719324)

      If I had a "right" to electricity, nobody could legally shut it off.

      A "right" doesn't imply at all that it can't be taken away under some circumstances (as a matter of fact, I've heard US has the biggest population of such people, at least among developed countries)

      • Well that explains the existence of the China Firewall. The right of free speech & access to information is revocable "under some circumstances"

        I on the other hand think a right is never revocable. You might as well be talking about revoking my right to have a penis. It makes no logical sense to say that an innate quality of the human body can be removed.

        • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by amplt1337 (707922) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:42AM (#30143276) Journal

          It makes no logical sense to say that an innate quality of the human body can be removed.

          This is the fundamental fallacy of the doctrine of innate rights.
          Any actual part of the human body can be removed. People can be born without them, they can become defective and degrade over time. None of those properties apply to rights (as you're conceiving them), which means they're non-corporeal. In fact, there's no objective way to demonstrate that they exist at all. If I make the claim that every man has a Y chromosome, there is objective proof, with some edge cases that don't apply. If I make the claim that every man has the right of free speech & access to information, there can be no objective proof.

          There is no reliable basis upon which to determine that a "natural right" exists as an objective property of nature. As a demonstration, try to disprove the existence of a right you do not believe in, such as the right of every man to have three wives if he wishes.

          The only way "natural rights" make sense is if we understand the term "natural right" to mean "a legal right to which I think every person should be entitled." There is no way to remove the subjectivity from that statement, and that's okay. At the end of the day, we make our decisions based on what rights we, subjectively, think people should have. It's just better not to give them grand airs as some universal property of nature, rather than reflecting part our system of preferences (which we're ready to defend by force of arms).

        • by sznupi (719324)

          So I take it that you support complete abolition of prisons? (or any kind of punishment that limits "human rights" for that matter)

          We routinelly grant "human rights" only conditionally.

    • Re:Not a "right"! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @07:05AM (#30141982)

      This is not a "right" to anything. These people need to look up the definition and history of what a "right" is.

      It entirely depends on what sort of philosophy you happen to believe in. Religious people can claim that they have rights, and that they are derived from the existence of their god(s). Others have attempted to create systems of rights that are entirely objective, independent of any deity or supernatural forces. Debates on this have been raging for millenia between all sorts of greater and lesser philosophers. Immanuel Kant, for example, claimed to derive natural rights from reason alone. Legalistic individuals could also say our rights are exactly what the laws say they are.

      • Even legalistic individuals recognize that rights exist without law. This was the basis for the Nuremberg and Japanese War Crime trials - even though the Jews and Chinese had no legally-protected rights inside Germany, Japan, or the occupied territories, they still had the right to life simply by being human.

        Rights are like instincts. They are innate

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This is not a "right" to anything. These people need to look up the definition and history of what a "right" is.

      I hate to have to be the one to break this to you... wait, that's a lie. I love to tell people this: There is no such thing as an inherent human right. The government claims you have a right to life but reserves (for itself, no less) the right to kill you. That's hypocrisy of the highest order. In fact, if we REALLY believed in a right to life, we would make saving and extending lives our number one priority. Once you accept that there is really no inherent right to life, it's easy to see that there is real

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Here in the US they often (no, more like "usually") misname laws. The PATRIOT act is the most unpatriotic law ever passed. The CAN SPAM act is one that is sneakily well named, as it essentially says you can spam.

  • by reporter (666905) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:51AM (#30141620) Homepage
    What Madrid is doing is basically what is being done in super-free market, the United States of America. American phone companies are required by state regulators to provide low-cost land-line phone service to citizens whom state laws consider to be indigent. This government subsidy is necessary because the phone is necessary to live adequately in modern society. The phone connects you to emergency services via 911. The phone connects you to the manager (who works you like a slave). The phone connects you to your family. The phone is nearly as important as food, shelter, and clothing.

    With the coming of age of the Internet, it will soon be as important as phone service. With the Internet, you can get legal information about registering your vehicle, and about smog-check stations, about filing a complaint with the relevant state agency. You can get information about universities. You can check whether your jury group is required to appear in court on a particular day.

    10 years ago, the Internet was an exciting fad. Now, the Internet is an indispensable tool for living in modern society.

    Of course, the best use of the Internet is to read articles on Slashdot.

    • With the coming of age of the Internet, it will soon replace phone service.

      Fixed that for you. ;)

  • A serious question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:13AM (#30141750)

    Last year, Spain granted human rights to apes:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14mon4.html [nytimes.com]

    Does this mean apes also have the right to broadband? And please, no jokes about Nigerian scammers.

  • Availability matters (Score:3, Informative)

    by lurker412 (706164) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @08:24AM (#30142446)
    This is hardly a matter of human rights, but it is a significant step forward for many Spaniards who live in rural areas where the only current broadband option is very expensive (and not very reliable) satellite service. Although the article doesn't mention it, it will likely mean that faster service will also be available in those areas. Telefonica's basic DSL service in Madrid these days is 6Mbs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by petes_PoV (912422)
      Yes, it'll be interesting to see how they implement it.

      In my part of rural Spain, the only phone connection is either a Telefonica supplied "wireless" phone, or a mobile. The only sources of internet are by using a 3G dongle (at extortionate rates - not that broadband in Spain is even close to a reasonable price). Some places have WiMax service - but the speed is low, the monthly cap is lower and frankly, the reliability sucks - and the price is high.

      I would expect the implementation to be either one of

  • I think the state government, jointly subsidized by the fed, should provide fiber to all public schools as a part of the national infrastructure. The school districts should then be allowed to sell bandwidth to providers or directly to the surrounding neighborhoods from those points. The amount of taxes for home owners, paid to school districts, should then be removed or drastically cut. The government gets to have the infrastructure needed for national security. Schools get the tools needed for modern

  • ...then broadband employees are necessarily slaves.
    • Only if they're not allowed to quit.

      • by brian0918 (638904)
        Well if they are allowed to quit, then broadband isn't a right, so the claim that it is a right is an empty claim or just a lie. My original post stands.
    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      so, if you have a "right" to free speech, that makes all the media workers slaves?
      if you have the right to a fiat trial, that makes all the lawyers slaves?
      if you have the right to bare arms, that makes all the sun-lotion manufacturers slaves (bare arms, as in unclothed .... oh, forget it!)

      Maybe you're beginning to see the huge flaw in your understanding

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