The British Library recently conducted a survey with about 3,000 participants with the purpose of creating a digital “Magna Carta” for the Internet age, resulting in a top ten list of declarations for the World Wide Web.
Roughly 500 stipulations were conceived by the surveyed group, ages 10-18.
The biggest ultimatum given was for the Internet to be free from control of governments or corporate entities. The number 1 clause for the Digital Magna Carta reads:
"The Web we want will not let companies pay to control it, and not let governments restrict our right to information."
The project, called My Digital Rights is due to align with the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta (June 15, 1215) and the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web.
"The project was conceived to encourage young people to think about issues of privacy, access and freedom, raised by Magna Carta, in the digital age,” says Sarah Shaw, the British Library's project manager of the Magna Carta.
The top ten of the 500 clauses were voted on by over 30,000 visitors to the Library's website. The majority show great support in keeping the web free and open for all without surveillance and censorship. The top ten declarations read:
- The Web we want will not let companies pay to control it, and not let governments restrict our right to information
- The Web we want will allow freedom of speech
- The Web we want will be free from government censors in all countries
- The Web we want will not allow any kind of government censorship
- The Web we want will be available for all those who wish to use it
- The Web we want will be free from censorship and mass surveillance
- The Web we want will allow equal access to knowledge, information and current news worldwide
- The Web we want will have freedom of speech
- The Web we want will not be censored by the government
- The Web we want will not sell our personal information and preferences for money, and will make it clearer if the company/Website intends to do so
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has shown support for the project throughout. "It's important for young people to think about the future now, when we are deciding what sort of a future it will be,” he stated.
Berners-Lee has been an outspoken critic of the American and British spy agencies criticizing the NSA and Britain's GCHQ in statements online. He believes the Magna Carta is the first step to open governments and true democracy. He explains:
"Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what's happening at the back door, we can't have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It's not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it."
You can continue to vote for your favorite Digital Magna Carta clauses here.