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Congress critter and California republican Darrell Issa is working on the first draft of what may eventually become the "Digital Bill of Rights" -- legislation which could possibly shape online freedoms and the expectations afforded to citizens of the Internet. Although very early in the process, Congressman Issa and Senator Wyden (D-OR) recently discussed the bill at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York.
Senator Wyden, a former anti-SOPA legislator, talked of the nearly ubiquitous ability for instant Internet communication and how it manages to cut out the middleman. Gone could be the days of navigating phone systems and sending snail mail to your representative when its already too late, an idea Washington still struggles with. We saw a taste of this with SOPA where millions of people became active to fight for their beliefs both for and against the controversial bill.
Ultimately, SOPA failed pass, but we've also had to contend with ACTA, CISPA, PIPA and other bills which often seem to take root with good intentions, but morph into something that sacrifices the current state of openness, protection and freedom we currently enjoy as Internet users..
"What the community did was create a fear", said Issa, referring to online dissenters who moved against SOPA. "Fear of being exposed is very powerful. No member [of congress] wants to be thought of as not caring about their constituency." he explained, touching on the power of Internet communication on today's politics.
The Digital Bill of Rights
- Freedom - digital citizens have a right to a free, uncensored internet
- Openness - digital citizens have a right to an open, unobstructed internet
- Equality - all digital citizens are created equal on the internet
- Participation - digital citizens have a right to peaceably participate where and how they choose on the internet
- Creativity - digital citizens have a right to create, grow and collaborate on the internet, and be held accountable for what they create
- Sharing - digital citizens have a right to freely share their ideas, lawful discoveries and opinions on the internet
- Accessibility - digital citizens have a right to access the internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are
- Association - digital citizens have a right to freely associate on the internet
- Privacy - digital citizens have a right to privacy on the internet
- Property - digital citizens have a right to benefit from what they create, and be secure in their intellectual property on the internet
The early draft, in its current form, gives broad suggestions on various facets of the web including freedom, privacy, property and openness. Congressman Issa is hoping to get some input on what a Digital Bill of Rights should look like. The above illustrates what he has thus far. User are encouraged to participate by sharing their ideas on Issa's website: keepthewebopen.com.