Do we need an Internet Bill of Rights?

During the Internet Governance Forum Italian meeting (Rome, Sept. 27 07) Stefano Rodotà (former Italian Data Protection Commissioner) and Fiorello Cortiana (former Senate member) strongly supported the need of an “Internet Bill of Rights” (IBR) as tool to protect netizen’s free speech, privacy and other human rights. Is this a good idea?

The answer – as ALCEI pointed out during the same meeting – is no.

The Civil World already has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all liberal counties Constitutions protect human rights. Then, why would we need a technologically oriented – and useless – “declaration”?

Infact, we don’t. We have plenty of human rights protections out there – at least in theory. What we lacks is intellectual honesty when ENFORCING those rights, or, better, when the governments say that they do what they do to protect these rights.

Then, state imposed censorship is necessary to protect free speech, state controlled privacy infringements are deadly important to fight terrorism, criminal investigation shortcut (“oh, please counselor, don’t bother us with these legal tricks. We’re doing “the right thing”) are need to protect a “superior good”… All of these excuse wouldn’t be overruled by the IBR, because IBR doesn’t work with the real problems.

Truth is that IBR (together with “multistakeholder”) has become a buzz word and a shortcut for politicians to talk about vaporware, travel the world in fancy places and let freedom go by.

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