German court declares Internet an “essential” utility

From Daily Dot.

The Internet is an “essential” utility, like heat or electricity, according to a German court.

A federal judge in the southwest state of Karlsruhe ruled Thursday in favor of a man who couldn’t use his DSL connection for two months in late 2008 and early 2009. He’d already been compensated for a disruption to his cell phone service.

Under German law, companies must provide compensation for failing to provide customers with “essential material items,” according to Reuters.

Just re-stating the obvious, really. But it’s strange to reflect on how perceptions of the Net made the transition from something weird and exotic (in the 1980s) to a public utility like running water and mains electricity (now). The downside is that we take it for granted and are therefore incurious about what’s special about it — which in turn might allow vested interests (governments and corporations) to capture it. That’s one of the thoughts that led me to write From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet.