Could Internet users’ rights be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution?
Two lawmakers instrumental in defeating the Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, are now calling for a “Digital Bill of Rights” to define and protect the liberties of Internet users in the United States.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) joined with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Monday morning at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City to announce their proposal. A draft version of the Digital Bill of Rights is live on Rep. Issa’s personal site, KeepTheWebOpen.com, where his constituents can comment upon proposed legislation.
The Digital Bill of Rights are:
1. Freedom – digital citizens have a right to a free, uncensored InternetThe rights could be translated to be in support of net neutrality, the ability to opt-out of online tracking programs and the right for Internet users to protect their creations. Conversely, they oppose legislation that would compromise Internet users’ privacy — an objection that was common amongst the anti-SOPA movement.
2. Openness – digital citizens have a right to an open, unobstructed Internet
3. Equality – all digital citizens are created equal on the Internet
4. Participation – digital citizens have a right to peaceably participate where and how they choose on the Internet
5. Creativity – digital citizens have a right to create, grow and collaborate on the Internet and be held accountable for what they create
6. Sharing – digital citizens have a right to freely share their ideas, lawful discoveries and opinions on the Internet
7. Accessibility – digital citizens have a right to access the Internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are
8. Association – digital citizens have a right to freely associate on the Internet
9. Privacy – digital citizens have a right to privacy on the Internet
10. Property – digital citizens have a right to benefit from what they create, and be secure in their intellectual property on the Internet.
For Issa, the Digital Bill of Rights is an important step for giving less technology-savvy lawmakers and government agencies a frame of reference for addressing Internet issues in the future. It’s also key, he believes, to protecting the Internet without relying on last-minute uproar to kill legislation perceived as threatening.
“Government is flying blind, interfering and regulating without understanding even the basics,” wrote Issa on his website. “We have a rare opportunity to give government marching orders on how to treat the Internet, those who use it and the innovation it supports.”
Sen. Wyden likened the effort to a modern-day “digital Constitutional convention” during the announcement Monday morning, adding that the idea is an essential ingredient of building a community that can address Internet issues in Washington.
“In the past, the way you got the word out was through a phone tree,” said Wyden. “We’re talking about building a system that will create a signal throughout the community.”
Do you want a Digital Bill of Rights to become law? Answer our poll below, then share your ideas for other rights in the comments.
Do You Want a "Digital Bill of Rights?"