A Realist’s Internet Bill of Rights

Lost Books
5 min readApr 13, 2018

I did a lot of lurking on Twitter recently while a fervent subset of users were trying to drum up 100,000 signatures for a White House petition asking action to be taken towards the creation of an Internet Bill of Rights (see also: #ibor). The petition only achieved about a third of the total signatures during the allotted time period, which the more conspiratorially-minded believed was the result of some plot by Twitter, perhaps in conjunction with the “Deep State.”

I’m not here to pass judgement on those theories, but the overall topic has proven to be, for me, one of those “itch you can’t scratch” type things. I keep coming back to it in my mind, turning it over and over. There’s something there in this questioning of the fundamental nature of users to the internet services we have come to so heavily rely on. And if you watched the Zuckerberg hearings at all this week, these themes are obviously important to a lot of other people as well.

What are rights?

But what are “rights,” exactly? How do they work? Which ones should we pick, if we were to draft up a “bill of rights” that could be universally applicable to the internet as a whole? Who would enforce those rights for us? In other words, what would it look like where the rubber hits the road?

It’s not a simple thing to solve, of course.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I found the below (admittedly Libertarian) video explanation of positive and negative rights interesting. You could skip…