Introducing the Internet Bill of Rights

from NYTs

Should American citizens get a new Bill of Rights for the internet?

Given all the damage that giant tech companies have done of late, including the disaster of the week — a breach at Facebook that exposed tens of millions of accounts and maybe lots more — many Democrats think the answer is yes.

In an interview with me this week, Nancy Pelosi even suggested that a new agency could be created to manage tech’s growing impact. “Something needs to be done,” she told me, to “protect the privacy of the American people” and “come up with overarching values” — a set of principles that everyone can agree on and adhere to.

Call it a Bill of Rights for the internet.

More here.

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11 Responses to Introducing the Internet Bill of Rights

  1. Tyler Miller October 8, 2018 at 7:11 pm #

    The blog by Professor Shannon, “Introducing the Internet Bill of Rights,” proposes a very creative and innovative to promote a solution to the problems of the major technology companies. This course of action stems from the original bill of rights of the constitution which provide the basic freedoms that are available in the United States of America. These freedoms include the first ten amendments of the constitution including freedom of speech and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Now with the internet and a major technology presence the blog touches on how some politicians believe that surfing the web should have its own bill of rights. Across the nation there is regulations for almost anything and these politicians explain why the internet should not be any different. In theory, this idea of an internet Bill of Rights is very promising and insightful but then like many other things it would need a lot of support to put this into law. There is a lot of hoops that this possible to solution to internet privacy would have to jump through due to the many laws before it and not to mention the original Bill of Rights. I would entertain the idea of applying this to the social system but would need to have an explanation on how the people behind it would tackle how laws like these would be enforced and the punishments for violating them. In addition to, the information that would be needed to enforce the laws would be personal information which the owner of the information is allowed to do as they wish with their information.

  2. Abigail Johnson October 11, 2018 at 12:06 pm #

    The topic of the internet possibly requiring a Bill of Rights, is a rather modern way of thinking, in which we can now protect our privacy through our Rights, and the internet then must follow these rights. May would agree that this precautionary tool is necessary for our private information to stay private, as Facebook is a prime example of a company selling out its users, making them subject to privacy breech. If a Bill of Rights existed for the internet, there would be a whole new set of rules and regulations that technology companies have to abide by, in order to keep the users safe. In order to create the list, a democratic representative met with the big technology companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook to discuss possible Rights that would be available on the Bill, making privacy the top priority. The rights that were written were rights that most people, including myself, assumed we already had. Taking people’s personal information of their internet pages is a complete invasion of privacy, and is completely unnecessary. The pure reason why this is done is for marketing purposes on the internet. This is why if you look up something on the internet, every page you go to will have advertisements about the product or service you googled the other day. This is so that way they can tap into your brain, by making you think you really need the product.
    Personal data is something that should be, but is not unfortunately, off limits to companies. Companies pay Facebook to sell people’s personal data, in order to market in a more direct approach to a random set of people. Another point that was brought up is how net neutrality should become a law, in order for net neutrality to not just be a regulation that is continuously debated on. Making this a law would help keep the internet and internet users more confident in their privacy. If we implemented the Bill of Rights for the Internet, we would be able to have strong regulations on internet activity and behavior, making it safer then it has ever been.

  3. John L. October 12, 2018 at 9:07 am #

    With the growing expansion of the internet, Americans find themselves in a golden age. The common person has access to a wide variety of information and tools to make their lives more convenient. People can order cab rides, merchandise, and even groceries delivered to their home all with the click of a button. The benefits the internet has brought must also be weighed with the costs it brings. More companies such as Facebook and Google are trying to become more profitable by selling user information about what they browsed to companies that wish to use the information in order to study consumer trends. Internet users are objecting to this sharing of information, as they claim it is an invasion of privacy and consent.
    The United States should adopt an internet bill of rights in order to protect its citizens’ privacy. The internet bill of rights should include a net neutrality law, a disclosure for consumers to give permission for companies to allow their data to be collected and shared by third parties, and modified right-to-be forgotten laws. These protections, along with the other seven rights stated, need to be instituted in order to protect consumer information in the event of another hacking or data-sharing scandal. While the Constitution does not explicitly state that citizens have a right to privacy, further legislation should be ratified in order to keep up with the changing times. The government’s job is to protect the individual from big corporations that wishes to take advantage of them.
    It is good that politicians in government and individual citizens are lobbying for Internet user protection rights. What is more beneficial is the push by companies themselves in support of net neutrality. During the repeal of net neutrality, companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Comcast, and others responded with disappointment with the FCC’s decision to overturn net neutrality. They stated their support for an open, secure, and fair internet for all users (Kasperkevic). Maybe those who don’t support an Internet bill of rights will be persuaded with the recent tech scandals that have come out as well as the overwhelming support from citizens and tech companies alike.
    Works Cited
    Kasperkevic, Jana. “What Tech Companies Are Saying about the Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules.” Marketplace, Marketplace, 14 Dec. 2017,

  4. Warren Vetter October 12, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

    The Bill of Rights for the internet is a much-needed ruling that we should not have to wait till a Democratic president. Protection online for every day people should be a necessity. Facebook, who has profiles on millions of Americans just had another breach and these hackers have been able to see people’s data and get personal information. Ro Khanna came up with ten internet Bills of Rights and the most important ones that are much needed are people get notified when there has been a breach of their data, to have access to and knowledge of all collection and uses of personal data by companies, to move all personal data from one network to the next, and to opt-in consent to the collection of personal data by any party and to the sharing of personal data with a third party. I believe these to be the most important because any of these can happen on a daily basis. A breach can happen any second and of course the user would like to be notified when there has been a breach into their data. An internet user would want to know when a company can have access to their personal data and when they use it. Furthermore, internet users should be allowed to move their data from network to network as they please. When someone goes into a website they should get an opt-in form that tells them what they are agreeing too when they use this website and if they allow any collection of personal data and if it is being shared with a third party. These ten internet Bills of Rights should be at the utmost importance due to the fact of how easy it is for people to breach into our data. We should all feel secure when we go on the internet and not have to worry about our data being protected.

  5. Danielle Blanco October 12, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

    The modern era is defined by easy access we have to the internet. In this era, the majority of people are on social media and those social media site require you to input your personal information. Other websites require your to submit information that you want to keep private. However, recently there have been incidents where these site are releasing our private information to third party companies without our consent. For example is the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica incident. What happened in this incident was Cambridge Analytica, a third party political firm, got personal information from Facebook user who took a quiz online. Also, they were able to get the personal information of the friends of people who took the quiz. There have been other incidents but that is one example. It seems reasonable and not surprising that someone had the idea to develop the internet Bill of Rights. I agree with the parts where it states that the users should have access to the uses of personal data by the companies. I am on many social media sites and I am unaware of what many of them do with my personal data. I believe that the company has the obligation to let the user knows so that they keep the trust between the company and the user. Also, before signing up and entering your personal information, the user should agree or not agree to allow companies to let third parties use their personal information. This will keep the user at ease and not paranoid with what the put out to the internet.
    However, this will require all sites to follow this procedure. I could imagine that many sites will not want to share what third parties they are using or reveal who has access to their information. I also think there will be resistant from third parties also. If this is presented to the public and advertised, I believe that users will push for the motion and there will be controversy. It will be interesting to see in the future if they pass an Internet Bill of Rights. Even if they do not pass this, I do believe that there should be more access given to the user and how their personal data is being used.

  6. Alexis Job October 12, 2018 at 6:55 pm #

    Since the concept of the internet is so new to modern society, there have not been many rules and regulations put in place, previously. The Bill of Rights was implemented to protect the basic rights of the American people. One of the major drawbacks of laws created so long ago is that the laws do not evolve as society does. Many laws can be used to address issues in the present, but often do not fully encompass the problem at hand. The same can be said of the dealings with current internet issues. The creation of the internet only lead to more problems cannot be dealt with using the legislation we already have. An internet Bill of Rights is much needed, the way the world is going. So much information is shared on the internet daily, for everyone and anyone to access when they please. Lots of this information is personal and can sometimes be very compromising if found and used incorrectly by other people. Controversies concerning the current state of the web are based in people’s rights to privacy. People have the ability to share what they want, but do companies and other organizations have the right to access that information and do with it what they please? The answer is yes, for now. Companies look at prospect employees social media pages to determine the type of person they may be by the sorts of things they post. A larger problem is how data collection companies use our data. With the constant collection of our data and the rise in the number of hacking incidents, is anyone’s information safe? An internet Bill of Rights would not solve all these problems, but it would be a start in internet reformation.

  7. RJC-Rider October 12, 2018 at 7:22 pm #

    In today’s world, technology has become an essential part of life. Humans are very technologically dependent and our personal and professional lives reflect this. Above all, the internet has become a key component to functioning on a technical level in our everyday lives. For example, in a typical office setting, employees rely heavily on email for communication, smart phones for texts and calls, computers for generating data and making presentations; the list goes on and on but a common theme among technology is the need for the internet. The same exists in personal lives, whether it is finding timely news articles on the NY Times or electronically paying your electric bill, the internet is there. The general populous cannot function to the best of its ability without the presence of the internet.
    Working under the assumption that the internet is a necessity, should it not be treated as such in law? Arguably this need can be morphed into a given right that should be awarded to all citizens. Additionally, our government exists to instil and protect the rights of its people. Therefore, the government should continue their regulation, but really begin to up this to what the article refers to in creating a sort of bill of rights concerning the use and protection of the internet. It is understandable for not having better protection now and this is because the law is typically reactive rather than proactive. Many of the more serious data breaches have occurred recently with respect to the birth of the internet so the law has maybe not fully recognized the problem or seen the need to take heavy action. But now more than ever, with breaches of PHIs from healthcare systems and growing data breaches of companies serving the masses, the time for governmental protection of its people is now.

  8. Eyal Kleiman October 12, 2018 at 7:40 pm #

    I like to make the analogy that the internet is similar to the ocean. People are freely allowed to use it, there are rules and laws pertaining to it but they are governed by so few when so many use it, and there are those who seek to exploit others who use it, as in hackers are similar to pirates. For these reasons, I see the need to have more rules and regulations and even have a specific agency to govern the internet. With the rollback of net neutrality, it is important now more than ever that we as Americans make sure that our rights to privacy are protected and not misused. The laws that have been in place for tech companies thus far were meant to aid companies in the industry. This was done with the goal of fostering and encouraging innovation, which it had done. However, the tech industry is now established as one of the most important industries and it has moved, in my opinion, from an innovative industry to a dominating industry. It is again for reasons like this that I think the industry needs to move from its innovative status to a more regulatory one. As Mr. Khanna stated, “The internet age and digital revolution have changed Americans’ way of life. As our lives and the U.S. economy are more tied to the internet, it is essential to provide Americans with basic protections online.” The goal here is not to regulate the use of the internet for individuals or to limit the use of the internet, the goal here is to make the internet a safer place for everyone to use. Currently, it is the responsibility of the individual using the internet to make sure they are protected and safe, whether by using security measures like VPNs or Tor browsing, but these should become standards for everyone because not nearly enough people who use the internet know how to stay safe when doing so.

  9. Michael Martini October 12, 2018 at 7:48 pm #

    A new bill of rights created specifically for the internet is an excellent idea and will help fish out all the bad and negative aspects of using the web. It will keep web users safer and will make surfing the web an even better experience. users will be able to have more confidence in what they do online. Privacy is a huge part of using the internet that needs to be resolved because lately there have been many instances of sites and people’s information being hacked into, such as Facebook’s recent incident. When people hear about things like this on the news, fear is put into them about using the internet. If less people use the internet then it will prevent our world from developing and becoming knowledgeable about what is happening around us. We should have no fear in what we do as Americans, and should be able to speak freely and use the amenities that were given to us with ease. The internet has been getting out of hand and a bill of rights for it would most certainly solve many of the problems we have.

  10. Cassie Sibilski October 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm #

    This article was very interesting as it brought up the point of a potential “internet bill of rights”, to help regulate what goes on online through the internet. There is so much to go wrong online today since everyone is so vulnerable with their information online, one big example being the massive facebook hack of millions of people’s accounts. The article suggests that an entire new government agency can be formed to help write up “rules” for how large tech companies can run their databases. One thing that is brought up that is believed needs to be changed is that users need to be “opting in” to give permission to share their information, rather than “opting out”. This change while seeming minor, could help things out a lot, because a lot of the time, people don’t even know what they are agreeing to, and perhaps this option switch would encourage people to look a little more closely at some of the fine print. Another thing that is proposed in the article is some kind of notification system that can be used to communicate with users if there was a breach of a company/website. Having something that is fast and can be sent the minute there might be a security issue, rather than a couple of hours later when it might be too late, might make people change their passwords or increase security to help lessen the number of people affected by these massive hacks. Something definitely needs to be done involving internet security as lately there have been way too many hacks and breaches of security, that so many people have been affected. It’s so hard to know how the hackers can get in and from where, but being able to somehow regulate what goes on with a “bill of rights” of sorts seems like it could only help the issue, so why not try it. The everyday user also needs to be more informed about where there information is going and who it’s being shared with when they put it online. I believe that that is one of the biggest problems, is that people are very uninformed when it comes to internet policies and databases and the fundamentals of how they work.

  11. Amanda Nitting October 19, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

    The first ten amendments in the United States Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. Within these amendments lays out American citizens rights in relation to the government as well as gives citizens liberties and civil rights. In recent years, the internet has before a big powerhouse where almost every person accesses every day and in their lives. This could be for either personal or for work-related purposes. Either way, the internet is making more advancements as each day goes by, that it is difficult to keep up with it; in that way, it makes it very dangerous. As of right now, the government has not put regulations on tech companies with the data and information they are capable of collecting. Furthermore, this has sparked controversy among many-because some think that rules should be set since the internet has made such a giant impact on society. The idea is to establish a set of principles called the Bill of Rights for the internet. These rights will make it so that everyone is in agreeance and will abide by them.
    Democrats are the main target for suggesting this idea of a Bill of Rights for the internet. The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is a strong advocate for implementing some type of control on the internet. Especially, taking into consideration all that has been occurring with Facebook and the exploitation of user’s accounts, it is very reasonable for feeling this way. Ms. Pelosi gave the Democratic representative of California, Ro Khanna the job to come up with a list of principles that can be used for the construction of the Bill of Rights for the internet. This list consists of ten standards that address issues including net neutrality, discrimination, and privacy. It seems fair to understand the reasons why one would argue for this implementation, but it also appears to have problematic areas as well. For example, since the internet is used throughout the entire world, would this bill of rights apply just for American citizens or would it be global? In many other countries, the internet is censored to the public where their government is in control of what its citizens are allowed to access. This makes this situation very intriguing to explore more and to see that if something like this will be put into place especially since the internet is gaining more credit in everyone’s lives.
    In this New York Times article, “Introducing the Internet Bill of Rights,” a statement that stuck out to me was “As our lives and the U.S. economy are more tied to the internet, it is essential to provide Americans with basic protections online” (Swisher). At the end of the day, it is the people that could be the most negatively impacted by the corruption that is going on with big tech companies and the government. There might be a controversy of whether or not the people want the government to interfere with this as well. When the government does insert themselves into areas such as businesses and the people in general, those regulations come with repercussions. The list that is being drafted seems that it would protect the people from just having their data taken without them even knowing like it is now and have more personal control over their data. The only problem is that if this is a global thing, then it might not happen due to all other countries not being in agreeance to the terms and conditions. Also, if the Democrats do not gain the majority after the midterm elections, I am not sure if the Republicans will push for the Bill of Rights for the internet.

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