"In an interview with the Guardian, Tim Berners-Lee proposes a bill of rights for the web.
His plan is part of a wider initiative, The Web We Want, a campaign for a 'free open and truly global Internet.'
Berners-Lee suggests that governments need an increased understanding of technology, and a revisiting of legal issues such as copyright law.
More controversially he proposes removal of US control of IANA claiming "The removal of the explicit link to the US department of commerce is long overdue. The US can't have a global place in the running of something which is so non-national". He sees the web at risk of fragmentation into "national silos" if people do not fight for the web.
There is potential overlap here with Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights , which states,'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.' Would an internet bill of rights be successful in nations where the principles of the UDHR are ignored ?
Given the anarchic evolution of the internet, is it possible or desirable to attempt to control it in any way?"
It is clear to me that penning down bills of right and expect the powerful ones to obey them is not working. Why do you think you are not a man anymore, but a Human Resource? because you were forced out of the fields your family had, and went to work in factories, first you had the sun for free, the rain for free, and you use money to exchange surplus. Now you are a replaceable instrument and treated as such.
As an old saying goes in my country, those who make themselves sheep, get eaten by the wolf.
There is no technical reason why we have to use the 13 *nice number huh* root DNS servers, trust the CA authorities. There are alternatives. There is no technical reason why we cannot revert to the web 1.0 way of doing things. There is no technical reason we cannot use more ad hoc networks with different tech like lasers and light transmission or sneakernets.
We only get the rights we can defend. All the rest is forfeiting power to superior entities. Apart a hypothetical god, no superior entity has any rights unless we give them up. Fuck every beta.
because you were forced out of the fields your family had,
Sorry to interrupt your dystopian narrative, but for the vast majority of history, the vast majority of people who worked in fields didn't own the land. They worked for the elite, who did. This "freedom" you seem to think is a natural state of mankind is, on the contrary, a recent and localized anomaly in the 7,000 year history of civilization. Which makes it all the more important to do something to sustain (or renew) it.
I was simplifying but anyway I play along. I posit that the anomaly you describe is a mere change of ruling class, from the bully to the thief.
The old system used aristocratic privileges, information privileges, religion. The new system uses money and steadily proceeds to destroy every other system it competes with. When it can, it does so in the name of justice and freedom. Once that is done, serfs will return to their natural state.
Freedom is the opposite of dependency while the system we are in is made of worldwide dependencies. You have the freedom to complain about it and try to synchronize with the rest of the majority to oppose the parts you do not like, good luck with that.
I do not assume people were always free in the past, but it happened for those powerful enough. And in some civilizations it happened for a lot of people. Now even the powerful ones are so because they submit to the rules, prisoners that get a bigger bowl of food.
I'm not a historian, but I think you're wrong. You're referring to feudalism, which happened during the "Dark Ages" and Medieval times, and were also a somewhat short portion of history (though much longer than modern times). Go back a couple thousand years or more before that. In the really old days, people lived in tribes, so the people who worked in fields did own the land, along with all their fellow tribespeople. If they got into conflicts with other tribes, or decided they wanted more land, they ended up moving somewhere else and settling. 6-8000 years ago, I don't think they had feudal lords, and there was lots of land since there weren't very many people.
Depends on where you were. I was thinking not just of medieval Europe, but Babylon, Sumeria, ancient Egypt, Rome, Persia, classical Greece (Sparta and Macedonia, not Athens), classical China, classical India, Inca and Aztec civilizations. I absolutely agree that hunter/gather and nomadic societies were quite egalitarian and the people owned the land (often communally). Whenever they started settling permanently and planting crops, a ruling class quickly emerged that claimed ownership of first the land and then, usually, the people. My point is that civilization and tyranny have been two sides of the same coin, and the so-called barbarians have been closer to what we would call free.
Civilization definitely implies a certain amount of restriction of freedom: For example, we restrict the freedom of people to punch or kick other people without their consent. Without that, we'd have a hard time creating a functioning society, because you would never know if you could leave your house without getting your butt kicked, much less go about any kind of business activity.
There are a lot of options between absolute freedom for everyone and absolute tyranny (where 1 person has absolute freedom, but nobody else does) that are a lot more functional than either extreme.
The hunter/gatherer and nomadic societies had more "freedom" generally because they had more space. Most of the world was unoccupied, so if you didn't like things, you gathered your tribe with you (or members who wanted to secede from the larger tribe) and marched off to find a new place to live. With so much available land, it wasn't that hard. Also, resources were more plentiful, with the main competition being from other predator animals. When people became too numerous, this kind of carefree living had to stop, and food supplies became scarce, so people invented agriculture and started living in villages. Managing resources effectively necessitates less freedom; you can't have everyone be free to be as wasteful as they want and still maintain a functioning society, especially as people live in more crowded conditions.
Yes, in some societies, ruling classes emerged which claimed ownership of everything, but many societies did at least attempt to have a functioning government resembling modern republics. Rome is a good example of this; it lasted about 500 years as a republic, without any rulers owning everything (at least not in theory), having a rule of law, etc. It got corrupt and the republic turned into an empire, but still, 500 years is longer than the US has been around. Western civilization really went backwards in a very bad way when Rome collapsed.
I imagine Rome isn't the only example of an ancient society with a rule of law rather than a dictatorship.
Any replacement architecture for the internet absolutely has to be easy for the nontechnical to use. You can't force everybody to learn the inner workings. "What? You don't know what DNS is? No free speech for you!"
Perhaps more importantly if such a project were to succeed, ordinary people have to be able to get online securely enough that they'll feel confident spending money there. If it becomes a scammers paradise, with financial loss lurking behind every config option, ordinary people won't use it. If there's no large market of nontechnical people to sell to, the project fails when everybody is still forced to work developing the old model just to make a living.
It is clear to me that penning down bills of right and expect the powerful ones to obey them is not working.
When did that strategy ever work? After all, the original Magna Carta was accepted only because if King John hadn't the barons would have killed him.
You need a carrot and a stick.
Do this right now or ... or ... or we'll post kitten pictures.
How about a world wide union for the world wide web? That would get some attention.
Can I stick my carrot in your rabbit hole?
Wasn't Sir Tim in favour of the HTML 5 DRM proposal with the W3C? How does that fit in with this bill of rights? (I tried to a top level response, but it doesn't seem to be working)
Wasn't Sir Tim in favour of the HTML 5 DRM proposal with the W3C?
Yes he was. (is) Sir Tim has sold out. Zero geek cred in my eyes. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/10/lowering-you r-standards [eff.org]
> You need a carrot and a stick.
Agreed. Take the carrot, shove it up ICAAN's ass, and then tamp it in farther with the stick.
Given the anarchic evolution of the internet, is it possible or desirable to attempt to control it in any way?
By the very requirement of using IP addresses and DNS, internet is not anarchic and, unfortunately, bound/controllable. How says otherwise, hand over your geek card.
In my opinion, the correct question would be: "How we design a model that is still technically manageable but less prone to be subdued to political/economical interest". In other words: it technically works, but doesn't have the weakness of single-point-of-control.
IPv6 and a P2P DNS scheme may be a combination, but other may also exists
My point: fuck, it doesn't need to be a political problem if it can be reasonable solved on the technical level by alternative means
My point: fuck, it doesn't need to be a political problem if it can be reasonable solved on the technical level by alternative means.
My point: fuck, it doesn't need to be a political problem if it can be reasonable solved on the technical level by alternative means.
A good/valid point IMO, but I wonder if it's too late.
I don't think that a new IP can be established without governments outlawing anything they can't control nowadays.I feel it is technically possible, but due to many government's current mindset, I don't know if it even has a chance.Look at all the recent gov't. attitudes towards Bitcoins(and similar) for an example.
I do hope this changes, and something practical can be done, but I am not exactly hopeful.
DNS doesn't really make the internet more controllable. If any of us ever want to do something which the DNS keepers disagree with we can always use ip addresses!
Ip addresses are a bit tougher of a problem though. To reliably route information through the network we will always need some sort of unique identifier. Without some sort of centralized control how do we guarantee that every device gets an identifier that is unique?
A declaration of principles only works when the responsible parties are dedicated to upholding the spirit behind those principles, not merely the letter of them.
The greatest threat today comes from those who not only are unbound by principles, but actively work to expand and misinterpret existing laws in the way most favorable to their universal surveillance goals. You think they'll care about respecting the "spirit" of this charter? Come on.
You could get every nation on earth to sign up for this and not have it make a whit of difference to the NSA, GCHQ, etc. Heck, even the US giving up control of ICANN is something that could be agreed to in principle and "studied" to death for decades.
This is not only desirable, it is essential. Here's why:
- Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is great, until you read it a bit more closely. It gives you the right to "hold opinions without interference". It also gives you the right to "receive and impart information". What it does not do it connect the two; it does not say that you have the right to communicate your ideas without interference.
- Article 29 is really bad, because it overrides all of the others. Governments are allowed to restrict your rights (including Article 19) for all sorts of general reasons: "respect...of others", "morality", "public order" and "general welfare".
In other words, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees you nothing at all, unless your government happens to be agreeable.
These restrictions were put into place for the simple reason that governments don't want to give up power. If rights were genuinely unrestricted, almost every country would be blatantly violating the rights of its citizens. Saudia Arabia treating women like property, Austria outlawing any questioning of the Holocaust, the USA prosecuting hate crimes - governments really do not want their citizens having freedom to hold and communicate ideas without restriction.
We desperately something written by citizens, not by politicians intent on keeping their power. Something written by citizens insisting on their rights, not by governments intending to restrict them. At the moment, we really have nothing. No universal human rights, except at the sufferance of government entities. I've long dreamed that the Internet might slowly supersede governments, but it currently looks like governments are succeeding in fragmenting the Internet and preserving their position of absolute power.
Perhaps, if we are lucky "Web We Want" can be part of a movement to reclaim the power of the Internet, and to finally establish fundamental rights that cannot be restricted at a whim of those in power.
it does not say that you have the right to communicate your ideas without interference
I don't understand. "Information" may include representations of ideas. Certainly, any digitized idea is straight up information, and so should be communicable.
Article 29 may seem bad, but it really made sense before the advent of the Internet. Consider the following hypothetical scenario: there is a country ruled by people of the class G, with a small minority of people of the class J. At some point, G people in charge decide to exterminate the J people, so J people go into hiding. Now, suppose a third party outside of the this country, in a place where human rights mean something, obtains names and addresses of a bunch of J people. Should they be able to communicate this info across all borders? It makes sense to say "no", because that would certainly be a terrible setback for the human rights of J people involved. The inclusion of "morality" is in this list is probably its lowest point, but even then, it says "just requirements", so we can at least hope that "unjust" requirements of morality (such as silencing all women, for example) may be safely ignored.
Now, I agree with you at least on the point that UDHR is not sufficient in the modern day: not if we want to fully exercise our right to free expression. But this is because we have an entirely new way of exchanging ideas, the Internet, and so we need a novel set of rules. It does not matter who writes this stuff, by the way; it would suffice if it was worded right, and was enforced.
But we do need an Internet charter, for sure. My biggest wish is to see the acceptance of the universal human right to say and post anything the fuck we wish on our private, non-profit sites, and do so without any fear of censorship or retaliation of any kind (aside from criminal interference, but that can't be helped). The hypothetical scenario breaks down with the advent of the Internet, because it is now practically impossible to prevent the information from reaching the place where it's wanted. We could try to defend the J people by gagging this guy or that, but in all but most unrealistic circumstances, we won't ever get a chance to gag anyone, because the info will be transported in seconds, without any chance of us knowing that the transaction took place.
And we really should be able to say ANYTHING, no matter how offensive or threatening, and that is because of two very interesting properties the Internet has. (1) Everything's been said already anyway. (2) Everyone can, but no one has to read your private, non-profit blog.
It would be wrong to let people say whatever they want if they are shoving it down other people's throats, but the Internet is not like that. And so every time someone is prosecuted for, say, making a threat on the Internet, it is a great injustice, because of singling out to the extreme. Everything's been said already, so why don't we prosecute EVERYONE who's made a bomb threat via the Internet? Why not bring to justice EVERY case of cyber-bullying? If we already in fact ignore 99.99% of all threats and insults, with no ill effects to ourselves, why the fuck are we prosecuting the remaining 0.01%? Would not we be better off by simply ignoring them, just like we ignore the rest?
Let's give people a way to be taken seriously over the Net. Let's say: sign your shit cryptographically, at the very least. Show us that you are making an effort to be taken seriously, and not just drunk at 3am, or left your gmail open in the public library. And if you don't want to go that extra mile, then to hell with you: it's all just a part of the ocean noise.
Governments are allowed to restrict your rights (including Article 19) for all sorts of general reasons:
This is just codifying the practical reality. Do you think the declaration of martial law is constitutional in the US? I rather say it explicitly is not - it is the suspension of the constitution during a crisis. Governments will want to keep that option open; it is strongly in their interests to maintain public order under any circumstance.
No universal human rights, except at the sufferance of government entities
What you are talking about is anarchy (or "pure democracy" if you prefer; when national boundaries are crossed it amounts to much the same thing), in the sense of having no strong central government. While the Web might allow citizens to organize quickly in response to threats on their freedoms, it depends on an enlightened and educated (and attentive) citizenry, something which has arguably never existed. The Web may, once again, make this possible, particularly in the generation now growing up with almost ubiquitous access, but it is far from clear that individualism will triumph over centrism and nationalism. It will require grassroots, international cooperation. I'm rather pessimistic about this possibility occurring in my lifetime, although I do think it is inevitable, particularly once humans establish a large presence extra-terrestrially on an ongoing basis.
I'm not sure where I come down on what the particular financial structure should be.
I do know that I'm willing to support the site (at least in its current form) financially, but only under the condition that it be free for others to use, regardless of payment. I know that others can't or won't pay up, or want to be anonymous... and that's fine with me. Their voices should be welcome here too, and in equal volume to those who pay.
I'm iffy on the idea of extra services. I can't help but feel like it has the potential to create two classes of users, even if the features aren't "core." But I could be wrong.
I'm sure I'm not the only one willing to open their wallet simply because it means the site continues to exist.
Ouch, totally commented on the wrong post. Do mod this down.
I think you are totally spot on with your comment here on this post. Because it has everything to do with "the web we want", and it translates in essence to a charity that in his charter purports to uphold "freedom of speach, and belief and freedom from want and fear".
Soylent news has the opportunity to set an example (and with "freedom of want" I certainly see the need for proper remuneration to those who should be paid).
Tim and his DRM can eat a duck.