This page considers the notion of global internet rights,
in particular a 'internet bill of rights'.
It covers -
supplements discussion of human rights, censorship, privacy,
secrecy and other matters elsewhere on this site.
One outcome, other than self-congratulation and frequent
flyer points, of what has been marketed as the "UN
Internet Governance Forum process" has been calls
for an Internet Bill of Rights.
That Bill - modelled on national Bills of Rights (discussed
as part of the Human Rights profile elsewhere on this
site) - would have a global coverage.
Proposals have encompassed the -
Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (DIC),
discussed elsewhere on this site
Declaration of Human Rights in Cyberspace (DHRC),
an outcome of the San Francisco 'Be-In'
(a replay of the "summer of love")
Human Rights Declaration of Individual Rights in Cyberspace
latter was intended as a "Universal Declaration of
Individual Access Rights to Electromagnetic Energy Transmission
Across the Internet" and features verbiage such as
the people, do recognize that we individually have the
right to seek truth and other benefits wherever we feel
that we might find them.
We the people, do recognize that we each are the individual
owner of a unique sensory management system called a
human brain which we each use so that we survive, procreate,
work, educate ourselves and our children, seek and attain
contentment and peace, individually, and therefore,
We the people, do recognize that our brain receives
energy from various channels. One form of energy is
photons which represent useful information which is
processed at the eye's retina, the eye channel(tm),
before being transmitted electrochemically for our understanding.
Other forms of energy channels are the nerves which
deliver sound, smell, and taste to our brain. Each form
of individual energy channel can be called an i(r)Channel(r).
We the people, do recognize that the Internet is universally
an open and accessible transmission system for energy
which is created, sent, and received by individual human
beings, and therefore, it is a form of communications
medium, just like air which contains the necessary oxygen
which we breathe to sustain life. Without air, we would
not be able to breathe, nor would we be able to exist
because our brain would suffocate from a lack of oxygen.
Likewise, without individual access to the electromagnetic
energy transmitted across the Internet, the intellectual
capacity of our brain would suffer from a lack of access
to information available universally through the Internet.
2007 Dialogue Forum in Italy, an outcome of the "Tunis
Mon Amour" campaign (undeterred by Tunisia's hostility to free speech), more modestly aims
reaffirm the nature of the net as a public good and
access to knowledge as a fundamental right.
international dialogue aimed at deciding whether we
need to clearly identify a set of Internet rights and
- in the affirmative - identifying which are the most
relevant areas and rights that should be considered.
a discussion about how to guarantee Internet rights.
What are some key issues regarding calls for an international
Internet Bill of Rights?
One issue, arguably insurmountable, is the utopian nature
of such calls.
Not every nation has established a national Bill of Rights,
justiciable or otherwise. Australia
for example does not have a national Bill or Charter of
Rights and Bills at the provincial level (eg in the Australian
Capital Territory) are advisory only, being ignored by
legislatures, judges and officials on occasion. It is
unlikely that all nations - or even most nations - will
agree on a new Bill.
Unlikelihood reflects lack of clear support at the domestic
and international level, with many policymakers presumably
considering that existing mechanisms for the protection
of civil liberties within their jurisdiction are adequate.
Unlikelihood also reflects disagreement about the nature
and significance of human rights. Not all governments
share the same definition of human rights. Governments
- and more broadly the cultures that they embody - place
different priorities on human rights.
A second issue is internet exceptionalism.
Advocacy within Australia (for example in ISOC-AU fora)
has been replete with assertions that "the Internet
is now at a critical point in it's [sic] development"
and that - yet again - there is a very "last chance
to save the Net".
The author's immediate response to some of the more fervent
calls in Australia was what makes the net special? Why
privilege netizens? Aren't rights innate, rather than
endowed by access to the net? Does the net deserve protection
beyond a gener right of communication?
A third issue is the shape of advocacy, with questions
legitimacy of entities such as the Internet Bill of
Rights Dynamic Coalition (IBRDC)
and claims byself-appointed individuals to represent
sponsorship by governments that have shown little interest
in the rights of their citizens (wired or otherwise)
much consultation, like that in relation to the WSIS,
is essentially an excuse for international travel and
feelgood statements that divert attention from substantive
efforts to grapple with national and international challenges
regarding electronic commerce, content regulation, a
range of digital divides
and so forth.