Cyberspace Charter of Rights

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Draft from Stephen Downes in 1999!

URL = http://www.downes.ca/post/184

Preamble

Electronic technology in the late twentieth century has given rise to a new environment, commonly known as Cyberspace, in which the citizens of the world may freely interact and communicate with each other.

As individuals, corporations and nations inhabit cyberspace, new laws, protocols and practises have demonstrated a potential for new limitations on the rights and liberties enjoyed by free citizens around the world.

It is reasonable and prudent, therefore, to declare those rights we consider essential to the maintenance of a free and open society in Cyberspace.


1. Access

Where access is defined as the capacity to send and receive communications through electronic means, including the internet, and where persons are defined as citizens of any nation, state or territory,

1. All persons have the right to access electronic communications.

2. All persons may send and receive communications from any point on the network.


2. Freedom of Speech

Where ideas and beliefs are the words, images, or other information created by a particular person,

1. CyberCitizens may express any idea or belief without limitation.

2. CyberCitizens may transmit their ideas or beliefs to any person who is willing to receive them.


3. Personal Privacy

Where personal information is information regarding the name, gender, address, nationality, or other information associated with a particular person,

1. CyberCitizens own their personal information.

2. CyberCitizens may at any time regulate the use of their personal information by other persons or parties.


4. Security of Communication

Where communications is the transfer of ideas and beliefs from one place to another,

1. CyberCitizens have the right to secure communication, that is, communication which will not be intercepted, redirected, or otherwise diverted or duplicated.

2. CyberCitizens may communicate in the language of their choice. This includes the right to create a language (for example, by encryption) which cannot be understood by any other party.

3. CyberCitizens may communicate with each other under the identity of their choice, including self-designated handles or pseudonyms, or anonymously.


5. Intellectual Property

Where intellectual property is any idea or belief created by a particular person,

1. CyberCitizens own their own intellectual property.

2. CyberCitizens may at any time regulate the use of their intellectual property by other persons or parties.


6. Reference

Where Reference is the mention of an idea or belief, as in the case of citations, quotations, or links,

1. CyberCitizens may refer to any other person's intellectual property.

2. CyberCitizens may express their own ideas or beliefs about any other person's intellectual property.


7. Quiet Enjoyment

Where quiet enjoyment is the use of electronic communications without interruption or interference,

1. CyberCitizens have the right to quiet enjoyment of their own communications system, that is, they shall not be subject to arbitrary search and seizure of their computers or other communications equipment.

2. CyberCitizens may regulate their own communications, that is, they have the right to refuse unsolicited or unwanted communications.

More Information

Commentary from Stephen Downes (1999) at http://www.downes.ca/post/184