×Note: A Human Right discontinued its work in 2016. Several projects live on through various partnerships. This website remains to honor our longstanding commitment to Internet for all. Thanks to all who supported us over the years.
Oppression, in the 21st century, is incomprehensible. It persists, but the iron grip of dictators will no longer hold strong. Unfettered access to information has fed the flames of revolution: Iran, Moldova, Tunisia, and now Egypt have awoken. People will not stand to have their civil liberties taken from them, they will not stand to live in fear. Right now people across the globe are demanding that their inalienable human rights are to be respected, that their freedoms are to be honored, and that their dreams will not be crushed. They are taking to the streets and fighting for their own vision of a better society. Their demonstrations are organized on Facebook their turmoil is captured on YouTube and their appeal for change is spread on Twitter…
False leaders are taking watch, and a chill has run down their collective spines as millions share their vision to live happier lives.
Those leaders have moved quickly to dismantle the very communication channels that empower these individuals: In Iran the Internet was censored and almost completely taken down. In Tunisia a state sponsored phishing attack was implemented to compromise the Facebook accounts of every citizen, and now in Egypt Internet users have been silenced.
We, at ahumanright.org, believe in the basic human right that is access to information. We are outraged, along with the rest of the Internet community, that a country would impede the ability of its citizens to access the Internet. We stand united with every member of our digital society- no one is to be disenfranchised from their basic right to seek, receive, and impart information.
We are building a network that cannot be shut down, we are ensuring every person has a voice, we will connect every member of our collective society. Join us: at BuyThisSatellite.org.
Currently ahumanright.org has over 100 volunteers located all over the world who solve problems, conduct research, brainstorm, code, design, and goof off. We use the Internet as our tool for collaboration.
Many have expressed interest in joining us as a volunteer, and we’re happy to have you!
The way we work is quite autonomously. Projects come in and if a volunteer (or group of volunteers) has the time to tackle it they commit to a time-frame (which is generally ASAP!!!) and get to work. The most beneficial volunteers (and those we seek!) are those who continually produce high quality work quickly, are flexible with their time, quick to understand complex ideas and ask meaningful question, know their strengths and weaknesses, and feel the need to GET IT DONE (whatever “it” is).
Feel free to fill out the form below, and help us create a free network for everyone:
*Your information will not be shared with anyone outside of ahumanright.org
Many months ago we were scratching our heads wondering how to get the world online. In a late night meeting someone announced a brilliant idea: “Why don’t we recycle a satellite? Just fire the thrusters and re-position it over a country that could use better access to the Internet. There has got to be a few we can buy?”
It sounded like a simple first step to get a small number of people online quickly, while teaching us a lot along the way.
Terrestar owns the most advanced communications satellite ever put into space. Launched in 2008 it’s as big as a school bus, connects to the tiniest handset called the “Genus,” and proves that comm sat’s can provide a data service quite effectively. Most importantly however: When we found them, Terrestar’s stock was about to be de-listed from NASDAQ.
Never before had the misfortune of another company sounded so fortuitous. Perhaps if we found an interested party to purchase that satellite from the ailing (now filing for bankruptcy) company and scooted it over to a partner country we could start something big.
We say partner country with the utmost reverence: although our end goal is for internet to be as free as the air you breathe, we want to make sure we do it without disrupting the sometimes delicate (sometimes petulant) telecommunications ecosystem.
Ahumanright.org stands behind the belief that if we offer a diminished service for free, while allowing telecommunications companies to purchase and re-sell low cost high-speed bandwidth we can not only get everyone online, but also facilitate the growth of an industry, while remaining sustainable ourselves.
As the CTO of Deutsche Telekom Thomas Curran advised us: “You’re evangelizing for access, expanding it. That can only help the industry.”
So Terrestar… We chatted with them a bit:
Ahumanright.org: “Is it possible to move your satellite into a new orbit, and provide services to a different country?” Denis Matheson CTO: “Without revealing too much, yes we could. But I can’t give you details.”
Perhaps, with their recent bankruptcy, they’re willing to part with their spacecraft. If it’s a good deal we have the perfect partner country: Papua New Guinea. (PNG). They have an orbital slot (a parking spot in space for a satellite), an improvable internet penetration rate of 2.1%, and their prime minister has been trying to build a satellite to connect their people for awhile. Why?
He says: “We need to get information to them [the citizens] so they can think for themselves, better their own lives, and not rely on other people’s dole.”
Or maybe… If we’re feeling really ambitious we could make an impact over the entire continent of Africa. What do you think?
Terrestar’s satellite could most certainly make an impact. So let’s own it. And if Papua New Guinea wants it, lets move it there. Join us on http://buythissatellite.org If they don’t accept we’ll use the money to build our own connectivity solution- we’ve got a few projects in the works.
With or without Terrestar’s satellite, Ahumanright.org is continuing work on a social, political, and technological model to connect everyone. We’re getting closer and closer with each day to making it happen.
Imagine your digital life disconnected. No Internet, e-mail, or phone. Now imagine the food you buy from the grocery store—imagine growing it yourself, and if you failed, starving. Imagine not having clean drinking water, access to a toilet, or even toilet paper. Imagine the comfortable world you know, disappearing.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is ranked 148 (out of 182) on the human development index. The people who live in this culturally rich place survive in extreme poverty by modern world standards. Yet their resilience is amazing, resisting famines, epidemics, and natural disasters. 85% of the population lives in rural and remote communities. With the introduction of mobile deregulation these communities now have access to something new—connectivity to the outside world. In a country of 6 million people, 2 million have mobile phone access. Government officials scratch their head, “we don’t even know how they charge their phones, but they do.”
Under the recently released PNG Vision 2050, Information services are considered vital to facilitate the growth of this small country: The current prime minister Michael Somare’s vision is “to empower our people in all walks of life – in particular rural and under developed communities – through the power of information to enhance their quality of life and to be on par with their peers in developed urban centres and peoples of this world.”
Internet penetration and GDP are closely aligned.
World Bank (2009), compiled by ahumanright.org
This vision is believed to be imperative to bringing this small country to a modern day standard of living. And so, in a country where people survive on $2.5 dollars a day, a plan to launch a satellite is being created. “We need to get information to them [the citizens] so they can think for themselves, better their own lives, and not rely on other people’s dole.” On May 5th 2009 the Prime Minister directed the government to look into the feasibility of owning and operating a geosynchronous communication satellite to provide affordable information services to people who have never had such a luxury.
And as for the computers, consider the period after 2000 when the price of vanilla skyrocketed:
“If there was free bandwidth, don’t worry about the computers – people find the money to buy them, you would be surprised. When the price of vanilla went up people showed up with bags of vanilla beans to buy Toyotas!”
–Noel Mobiha, Technical Liaison to the Prime Minister of PNG
We live in a time where being connected, to the global conversation that is taking place online, is considered vital to development. We live in a time where we as a human race our connecting across borders, cultures, and continents—to share ideas at the speed of light, for a brighter future. But unfortunately, we live in a time where only 26% of the world’s population has a chance to use the internet.
Papua New Guinea realizes that “the invisible highway” is as important as ensuring adequate education—in fact, it is part of how they plan to ensure adequate education: Internet in the classroom, tele-teachers for rural areas, and the adoption of the “One Laptop per Child” program.
And as this message rings loud and clear in the developing world, the developed world follows: Australia has a “National Broadband Network” that will cost a whopping $43 billion dollars. With a population of 21 million people, the Australian government is spending approximately $2,000 per person for broadband Internet access. America just passed a 7 billion dollar initiative to bring high-speed access to rural areas. High-speed internet access is a priority in developed countries; access of any kind is one of the highest priorities in developing countries.
Freedom of expression is nearly always considered a basic human right; in other words free and unfettered authorship is clearly privileged. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to “hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”
For the developed world, the internet has become the de facto standard to seek, receive, and impart information. In 2008 over 1 trillion unique URL’s existed. In 2009 approximately 90 trillion e-mails were sent per day (81% being spam—leaving 17.1 trillion legitimate e-mails). In 2010 it is estimated that 21,380.09 petabytes of IP data will be transferred over the internet.
The Internet has made freedom of expression a practical fact and global phenomenon for anyone with a computer and a telephone.
Thus to be excluded from this information technology is, effectively, to be excluded from information, full stop. Given that to receive and impart information is a universal human right, and that the Internet is more than just an incrementally useful information technology, we are led directly to the conclusion: the Internet should be a human right in and of itself.
Unfortunately, this hypothesis applies solely to the developed world as developing countries do not use telecommunications to seek, receive, and impart information. However, this does not invalidate the argument, rather it strengthens it: If the developing world is to be, in effect, excluded from the global dialog that takes place online it is, in effect, an assurance they will remain developing. If the internet is information and if information can be equated to power, then all those without access to information are in effect powerless. Benjamin Disraeli put it quite well, “As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.”
In a 27,000 person poll conducted across 26 countries by BBC/GlobeScan: four out of five people agreed internet access is a human right. Internet access has been declared a human right in Estonia , France , Finland , Greece , and Spain . In some countries the right is enforced by mandating a minimum connection capability to all remaining and desiring home users in a country.
It is our goal to fulfill the mandate, on a global scale, of ensuring that every human has equal access to the internet– because it is their right.
Let some voices in your ear share some ideas regarding ahumanright.org
Voices: Kosta Grammatis: Founder AHR. Britt Wray: Communications Intern AHR Jan King: Advisor and Co-Founder of Antarctic Broadband. Susan O’Donnell: National Research Council of Canada, Gordon Gow: Associate Professor of Communication and Technology at the University of Alberta. Reisa Levine: Director of CitizenShift an online platform for democratic media and social justice.
We are all members of the information society. Many of us are digital natives. We have multiple facebook, twitter, and gmail accounts. We are connected to our friends, family, co-workers, the news, television and every single form of media imaginable. Information is at our fingertips. We command Wikipedia to answer our questions, dictionary.com and thesaurus.com help us to be articulate, and google fills in the blanks.
These are tools that we use everyday, and we wouldn’t know what to do without them. But we are lucky, and if you are reading this—so are you. You are one of the 1.7 billion with internet access.
Since December 2009 we have been working on a little project. We believe that the internet, with all it’s shortcomings, has changed what it means to be human. No longer does the disemination of ideas take months, years, or lifetimes– instead the transaction of knowledge is almost instantaneous. Anyone with the ability to get online has a digital voice that can be heard around the globe. We are all connected.
And as the internet has enabled this, we believe that we need to assure it’s continued availability, and growth. Only 26% of the world’s population is online, there exists no failsafe mechanism for when disaster strikes rendering networks inoperable, and the developing world lags far behind.
From all over the world we are working to build a network that will allow most everyone to use the internet, free-from-cost. A world wide ubiquitous network that will allow most anyone access.
We believe, as do most of you, that internet access is a human right. We plan to enforce that human right, because– unlike some of the more challenging human rights, this is a something that can be accomplished quickly. Soon, internet access, will be as easy to come by as the air you breathe.
We would like you to invite you to join us in delivering internet access to the whole of mankind.