Two leading opponents of SOPA are taking their fight for Internet freedoms to a whole new level. This time a team of bi-partisan lawmakers are offering a Digital Bill of Rights to help ensure that Americans continue to have an open Internet.
“I believe that individuals possess certain fundamental rights,” Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) writes on his website this week. “Government should exist to protect those rights against those who would violate them. That is the revolutionary principle at the heart of the American Declaration of Independence and US Constitution. No one should trample our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That's why the Bill of Rights is an American citizen's first line of defense against all forms of tyranny.”
Rep. Issa’s proposal has been drafted along with the help of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who together have taken on the issue of Internet rights on Capitol Hill countless times, particularly in recent months when they championed an effort to abolish the Stop Online Piracy Act , or SOPA. While the two lawmakers are split on some issues, such as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) currently being considered in Washington, they both agree that the Internet rights of Americans needs to be protected during a day and age when lawmakers — especially those that are misinformed — are fighting for online regulations that could essentially eliminate freedom on the Web.
"Government is flying blind, interfering and regulating without understanding even the basics," Rep. Issa explains on his site. “We have a rare opportunity to give government marching orders on how to treat the Internet, those who use it and the innovation it supports."
Along with Wyden, Issa has done exactly that by publishing the just-penned Digital Bill of Rights. And like many historic American documents, the two lawmakers are looking for help in drafting a completed version of their proposal. “I need your help to get this right,” writes Issa, “so I published it here in Madison for everyone to comment, criticize and collaborate. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to work together to keep the web open.”
Speaking from New York City on Monday, Sen. Wyden said that Congress indeed someday crumble the Web as we know it and called for "changing power in Washington, DC." In an unusual example of a bi-partisan project getting off the ground quickly, their call for chance is already being widely circulated on the Web:
The Digital Bill of Rights:
1) The right to a free and uncensored Internet.
2) The right to an open, unobstructed Internet.
3) The right to equality on the Internet.
4) The right to gather and participate in online activities.
5) The right to create and collaborate on the Internet.
6) The right to freely share their ideas.
7) The right to access the Internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are
8) The right to freely associate on the Internet
9) The right to privacy on the Internet
10) The right to benefit from what they create