I. We have the right to connect. If we cannot connect, we cannot speak. That is a new and necessary preamble to our First Amendment. Finland has declared Internet access—high-speed at that—as a right of citizens. Whether countries should subsidize and provide access is a separate question. But once access is established, cutting it off should be seen as a violation of human rights. ‘It’s now a basic human right to have Internet,’ Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer told media executives in the Middle East. ‘Systematic denial of freedom of accessing information will lead to a revolution.’
II. We have the right to speak. Freedom of speech is our cultural and legal default in the United States. That First Amendment protection should extend not just to information and opinions delivered by text but also to information delivered by applications and data. Yes, there need to be limitations—on child pornography online, for example. But beware the unintended consequences of attacking a specific problem with an overly broad response.
III. We have the right to assemble and to act. It is not enough to speak. Our tools of publicness enable us to organize, to gather together—virtually or physically—and to act as a group to demonstrate or to build.
IV. Privacy is an ethic of knowing someone else’s information and what you do with it. We need protection of privacy.
V. Publicness is an ethic of sharing and deciding whether information you hold could be helpful to others. The foundation of a more public society is the principle of sharing: recognizing the benefits of generosity, building tools that facilitate it, and protecting the product of it.
VI. Our institutions’ information should be public by default, secret by necessity. Openness is a better way to govern and a smarter way to do business.
VII. What is public is a public good. When public information or the public space is diminished, the public loses. Secrecy too often serves the corrupt and tyrannical.
VIII. All bits are created equal. When anyone gains the power to decide which bits, words, images, or ideas can or cannot pass freely through our network, it is no longer free.
IX. The Internet must stay open and distributed. [And to quote another:] ‘Let’s give credit to the people who foresaw the Internet, opened it up, designed it so it would not have significant choke points, and made it possible for random people, including 24-year-olds in a dorm, to enter and create,’ says Eric Schmidt.”