We are still at it and again its always the same issue, someone drafts a proposal or bill to suggest that we need to protect our online rights as US citizens. The hype begins as “We need to protect our privacy rights, our content rights and our freedom of speech as Americans” And the posts, conversations and blogs start all over the Internet. Although I am not speaking of the recent commenting or posting on the congressman’s website or the article in which I originally read the news that a “Digital Bill of Rights” is being constructed, I am speaking to what happens next.
People somehow feel threatened that they will have duct taped placed on their hands and never be allowed to surf or interact on the Internet freely again. Posts and petitions get the information twisted and confused and placed on Facebook pages with too many offering up their name to keep things “free”.
Definitions of filtering and censorship of the Internet become distorted for binding and intrusive attempts to control a free resource. While the spin to hindering our fundamental rights as American citizens does get a person interested and motivated, we need to clarify the reasons behind the need for this topic of discussion at all.
What I mean is that this perpetual Pollyanna-ism like ideology to “protect our rights” fails to have respect for the real condition or state of Internet. For instance, see this post about the abuse one woman received publically when trying to prove her own points. While yes, I’m a woman and I may lean one way or another, the fact remains she has a very guided and creative study and receives public abuse or attacks against her gender for speaking freely.
Then there’s the child pornography industry. According to Enough is Enough,
“Worldwide pornography revenue in 2006 was $97.06 billion. Of that, approximately $13 billion was in the United States (Internet Filter Review, 2006).” While the statistics may be a bit outdated, let’s think about what those totals may be now with videos created and uploaded from our phones within seconds.
So there’s money being made by the billionth dollar on content abuse against children online. Should these pieces of content be protected as a freedom of speech with no filtering or censoring against such abuses? Tell that to the victims and their families.
What about cyberbullying? People want answers for images, videos and comments that are created to only abuse or torture someone else. Fake accounts or posts are only done to be cruel or extort others, should this type of behavior also protected?
What about the trolls, hackers or online thieves that research and recreate accounts in order to steal from others? Should their behavior and identity be protected as a right? Tell that to the hardworking citizens out there that are only trying to pay their bills or purchase legitimate goods or services via the many great Internet sites.
Finally, what about the death threats against spiritual leaders or political leaders? With few exceptions, these individuals are in place or power to lead others. Should criminally fueled threats always be protected just because they were carried through online? What if the threats are actual indications of intent and no one bothered to follow through?
The Internet feels like a living breathing entity always changing and moving and existing dynamically with many forms of content. I don’t think anyone wants to take away our Internet use all together, I think by using our “fundamental national rights as Americans” to scare us into signing up for laws keeping the internet “free” is in itself a shame and misguided attempt to not address the many abuses that do exist.
Personally, I want to be able to do searches on YouTube that don’t provide child pornographic images or videos, and I want to be able to post intellectual non-abusive opinions on blogs in articles and receive the same in return. I want to be able to allow my children to search on their favorite social media sites for information and interesting facts without coming across someone’s nasty words or images causing distractions or harm. Additionally, to those that seek to steal my information, please someone, trace them down and arrest them. I work hard for my pay and I need it to feed my own family members. Furthermore, I don’t want convicted killers who have access to the Internet from prison writing my teenagers and I don’t want any child’s abusive images to be used as a source of income.
Come on; let’s draft something a bit better than a simple list of “Fundamental Bill of Rights” for the Internet.
If you produce the video, it’s yours good or bad. If it’s naughty in nature and goes against the hosting website’s User Acceptance Policies, it should be policed accordingly. Identify the culprit and hold them accountable. An uncensored Internet means all Internet crimes as well as kids, religion, governmental informative websites, moms, dads, technologists, doctors, lawyers or “everybody” exist in a Wild West digital society that is dangerous to too many. Weigh the price of both sides maybe? No censoring, everything is allowed including theft, pornography, bullying, trafficking of humans, governmental security breaches and on and on.
Censoring, online crime is addressed and acted upon. Filtering before abusive content can inflict harm is beneficial to many as a right protecting method.
Maybe we should start with the definition of a digital “citizen”, using the definitions we use when our youngsters begin school for how to be a good citizen?
Be nice to others, don’t harm others, and don’t steal. If you have an argument respect others when debating. Don’t name call, don’t lie, and don’t take away others’ rights to speak.
Filters and censors exist for a reason and while I do believe we have a digital freedom, the fear of having the Internet so policed we will suffer some great travesty is absurd. For advertisers, businesses and consumers, avoid the allowance of digital abuses. Are you going to host the threats or do your part to protect the gazillion good subscribers out there? Are you going to associate your brands with criminal activity or are you going to protect them?
My beginning “Internet Bill of Rights”
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not knowingly create false image, video or text, especially and specifically intended to harm of others
Thou shalt not allow those who have knowingly committed or profited from Internet abuse further access to the Internet
Thou shalt not profit online from harming others with digital media
Thou shalt retain rights for intellectual or creative media including software, programs or other web services and products.
Thou shalt be protected from illegal sharing of intellectual or creative media
Any entities hosting or encouraging the abovementioned abuse shall be held accountable within a reasonable amount of time
Thou shalt not gather to encourage illicit or illegal actions against others on the Internet
Thou shalt not make threats against anyone’s rights, housing or physical being via the Internet
Thou shalt not subject others to illicit or illegal activities via the Internet
I’m sure there’s more I could come up with, but I’m not a lawmaker, just a US citizen, a mom, an employee, an Internet user, and a law abiding citizen who believes that rain clouds caused the invention of umbrellas and the skies aren’t always painted with beautiful rainbows. I like seatbelts, umbrellas, policemen, laws against theft and laws against others trying to harm my family.
Articles or statistics referenced:
Beginning backbone created for discussion “The Digital Bill of Rights”
The Digital Bill of Rights: