A Kyoto style protocol for net.freedom

I am a simple man. Let’s establish this. I am a simple man. But still I want to save the Internet. Yes, it is pretentious. Yes, I will fail. Yes, who do I think I am and all that. But still I want to save the Internet. And I want you to help me.

Since a few years I have been thinking about a Kyoto style protocol for net.freedom. I am thinking about a protocol for nations to follow to establish some ground rules to keep the Internet freedom alive, just the way the Kyoto protocol did for the environment. Sure, the Kyoto protocol has so far not saved the environment. But it keeps the issues on the agenda. So will a protocol for Internet freedom.

I am not versed or skilled enough to actually construct a text which nation states would adhere to. I could not even write a proper text that enough individuals would sign up to so it would actually make a difference. But someone needs to start somewhere. I am aware of previous tries carried out by the EFF and others, but I think they all have been too ambitious.

My suggestion involves setting up a task force to actually carve out a text states can sign plus carrying out the diplomacy involved in getting it done.

So, this is an attempt that will fail as many other have before. But every now and then a black swan appears, and I will keep trying. With Wikileaks being more or less thrown of the Internet I thought it was time to actually publish my ideas and see what happens. If my naivety makes you laugh, well, then at least I created some more happiness. Wikileaks is interesting, because I am not even sure I like what it does. But I think it deserves better treatment as a netizen. And so do many more. So here it is. My suggestion for a Kyoto style protocol for net.freedom.

Five basic principles for Internet freedom

I. Freedom to access. Freedom to access should not be compromised by states.Getting online as a user is an absolute freedom. Only very serious crimes should prevent citizens from their online service.

Ia. Freedom to access. Backbone providers should not discriminate. The freedom to access should also put a limitation on the net carriers, not being able to deny providing access to individuals nor corporations. Internet Service Providers could choose their customers but backbone providers should not at all look into the customers or their contents.

IIb. Freedom to access. DNS should not discriminate. At all. DNS is not content.

IIc. Freedom to access. IP should not discriminate. The Internet protocol is a technical protocol and should stay that way.

II. Encryption. The use of strong encryption should be allowed. This should not only be allowed by non-prohibition, but by entering a law stating that encryption is allowed.

IIa. Encryption. Encryption should be sold and exported freely. Even very strong ones.

III. Non-censorship. No censorship or pre-screening for content nor visiting of web sites or similar. This means that filters that stop visits to web sites or other net destinations should not be allowed. The access to certain web sites or other content could be deemed unlawful at times, but that should be punished in arrears based on the facts of the case, rather than on the presumption that the visit or similar would be disallowed in all cases and making it technically very hard to access a certain resource.

IV. No surveillance. The citizens should not be surveilled just because it’s technically possible. Surely, suspects could be monitored, but to have a general surveillance scheme will definitely create more problems in terms of privacy violations than it will actually catch criminals.

V. This is not about copyright. Copyright infringements should be treated in accordance with national laws. But any crimes should be punished in arrears, when they have actually occurred. Not before an actual crime has been committed. The focus on copyright issues in Internet policy and regulation is not called for. There are laws to deal with this already.

So, can you use these five basic principles for anything? I think you can. But it is very far from the actual protocol that nation states could adhere to. If a state would sign up to these five general principles we would get Internet freedom. But even getting this done would be a major challenge.

Therefore I suggest the formation of a council to develop a Kyoto style protocol for net.freedom. Some individuals I think could do a lot of good with various skills are these: Carl Bildt (chairman), Joichi Ito, Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain, Yochai Benkler, John Palfrey, Esther Dyson, Hans Rosling, Chris Anderson, Nicklas Lundblad, Andrew McLaughlin, Tony Blair, John Perry Barlow, Siva Vaidhynathan, Danah Boyd,@Clarinette02, Hans Rosling, Tim Harford, Dan Ariely, Charles Nesson, William Fisher, John Palfrey, Hal Roberts, Clay Shirky, Howard Rheingold, John Raulston Saul, Glyn Moody, Linus Walleij, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, John Gilmore, Phil Zimmermann, Ian Clarke, Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Patricia Russo, Patrik Hiselius, Hans Blix.

I know — very Harvard centric, but hey, they host the best. What can you do? Also, total over-representation by Swedes compared to our status in the world. But I am Swedish. Too few women? Well, then please comment on this and add more names. This is just an example of a group.

But I hope a few of the names on the list will pick this up and actually do something.

Because the Internet needs to be saved. and you can do it. The ball is in your court now.

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