Bill of Rights in Cyberspace, amended

I’m still refining my thoughts on a Bill of Rights in Cyberspace — the latest version in preparation for tomorrow’s PDF symposium on WIkileaks and transparency. The idea is to have principles we can point to when dealing with such events as Wikileaks, Google/Verizon, Google/China, and so on. Try this on for size:

I. We have the right to connect.
II. We have the right to speak freely.
III. We have the right to assemble and act.
IV. Information should be public by default, secret by necessity.
V. What is public is a public good.
VI. All bits are created equal.
VII. The internet shall be operated openly.

Earlier versions are here and here. I’ve taken out the simplistic notions of controlling our data and identity, after realizing that we can’t control either. We should, instead, have access to information whenever possible, by default; I think that better covers both our needs to get to our information and our needs to get to information in our government and in business.

At the PDF event, I want to talk about the need to discuss principles we can point to when we see violations of these rights. If we do not set these standards, then we cannot hold governments and companies to them.

I will also talk about the idea that we are passing from a world organized around power-to-power transactions to one based on peer-to-peer engagement. I’ll argue that we in the press, especially, must defend Wikileaks’ right to free speech as it speaks truth to power. I’ll say that we must make transparency government’s default; we are far from that and risk moving away from that target rather than toward it.


: LATER: Some have pointed out that I don’t have a privacy clause. I’m struggling with how to craft it, for as I’ve found in researching my book, there is no single definition of privacy. To say that we have a right to it makes us ask what the ‘it’ is. I like danah boyd’s construct, that what should be regulated isn’t the gathering of information but the use of it. The idea that information should be transparent by default goes part-way there: we should have knowledge of what is being collected about us. I’m insure of the next step: action about that. Of course, I want to be careful about overregulation of information, for that quickly impinges on the right to speak. Thoughts?