Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post here about the concept of Internet as a right.
My initial thought on this is that it would be more precise to talk about information as a right. Saying the Internet is a right is sort of like saying that hospitals or medical offices are a right, rather than the health care provided within them.
And what kind of information should we have the right to? I would suggest we start with the information most useful to people on a daily basis -- what schools are available to send your children to; details of community meetings; where crime is prevalent and what police are doing to protect the community; the list goes on ....
Of course, providing this hyper-local level of information requires a different economic model. I think it has to be a nonprofit model fueled by hybrid sources of revenue -- mainly advertising supplemented by philanthropy.
We're doing that here in the Bronx.