German judge: Internet is so essential, you can claim compensation for interruptions

A German court has ruled that the Internet is so essential to modern life that you ought to receive compensation if your service is interrupted.

As reported in by Reuters, the Karlsruhe Federal Court of Justice was trying a case in which a man lived sans DSL, thanks to his ISP, for two months in 2008 and 2009. The service disruption included the plaintiff’s VoIP phone service and even a fax line (hold the giggles, nerds). The judge ruled that Internet access was basic enough to his existence that the ISP should compensate him for his loss to the tune of €50 ($67) per day for the duration of the outage.

“The Internet plays a very important role today and affects the private life of an individual in very decisive ways,” court spokesperson Dietlind Weinland told reporters.

“Therefore, loss of use of the Internet is comparable to the loss of use of a car. … It is the first time the court ruled that an Internet connection is as important a commodity as having a phone.”

This little story reminds us of some words of wisdom from Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet itself and an all-around fantastic human being. In a controversial opinion piece, Cerf stated that Internet access is not in itself a human right. “Over time, we will end up valuing the wrong things,” he wrote.

In a followup interview with VentureBeat, Cerf stressed that while we all have a moral obligation as technology creators to ensure technology can be used to promote and enhance civil and human rights, he and many others are also concerned about overregulation of technologies, especially by governments.

Image credit: screen capture of Phillip J. Fry from Futurama, the original image used for the “Shut Up and Take My Money!” Internet meme