Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Social Contract for the Internet


originally posted on July 6, 2012  but for some reason is not working, so re-posted here
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ACTA  and SOPA are vehicles that have sought to address business concerns by implementation of a set of regulations that, if approved, would result in the control of what is now an open and democratic dimension of our consciousness. It is the first time in the history of the world that people everywhere have had the ability to interact freely regardless of nation, income, colour or creed. 

This is a big idea and it is a wonderful evolution. That it changes the dynamic for business models is without question. It begs for a discussion on the re-visioning of the social contract, and not for an implementation of restrictive regulations based on outdated business and/or social premise. And it is for society to frame the new relationship, not through secretive and self serving quasi legal frameworks. 

As a society, I believe we are presently at a place where we should be talking about the future in terms of what this open internet has brought us, how it is changing our relationships with each other, with long established business models, with our representatives in government, in opposition, in the resistance movements we see daily in the news and online. We need new social policy, business philosophies, economic foundations and educational programs to go forward. 

I do not believe we will maintain the current relationships socially or economically, and so I say let's get started on the discussion on where we want to go, or be. Trying to maintain an outdated and crabbed protocol in a new and dynamic environment goes against all expectations for evolution. Trying to police and regulate change is quite frankly, the road to hell. 

I believe that the internet is not a commodity, and should not be regulated, metered, stratified, criminalized. Out of the spectacle of absolute freedom, we have found wonderful opportunity to grow. This is not to say there are not problems, for that would be to deny the nature of man. The point is not however, to use the problems to abuse the rights of internet citizens. It is to find new and appropriate mechanisms to deal with serious issues, some of which are obvious and some that are not. 

Currently the TPP has embedded terms for internet regulations within its agreements. This is yet another attempt to circumvent the interests of the internet community. By placing these controls within the framework of a trade agreement is particularly egregious for me, as I reject the commercialization and resulting commodification of the internet. 

That there is a consistent effort to deliver internet regulations out of secret and unilateral processes tells me that there are vested interests at work, that there is a supreme lack of will to participate in negotiation of a new social contract, and that it is time to insist that our municipal, provincial and federal politicians get in touch with the people in their districts to begin the discussions with an open and forward thinking prospectus. 

I believe we, as a society, need to address the social and economic issues that will come out of the expansion and evolution of the internet rather than trying to constrict and manage it within an old and weathered and not so pretty portfolio we have used to date. 


To Do


  1. Discussion on the consent to be governed. Are the expectations different in and out of the internet?
  2. Define policy, include rights and responsibilities. Are the expectations different in and out of the internet?
  3. Vision new business models that reflect internet policy - for example, I believe you can make money in the internet, but the internet itself is not a commodity. I believe it should be available to all, as a right.  Are the expectations different in and out of the internet?
  4. Privacy: Is this expectation realistic? What are the parameters for personal, government, corporate privacy.  Are the expectations different in and out of the internet?
  5. Discussion and visioning on future models of opportunities: Education, Government, Economy, Working Life, and the impact on us socially, globally, as a society.  Are the expectations different in and out of the internet?
  6. Technology: The discussion needs to take place without the constraint of our current technological ability to deliver communications via the internet. New capacity is around the corner that will offer unfettered communications that defy our understanding of comunications we have with the  current internet infrastructure. So the discussion is truly one of social agreement free of the boundary of regulation as proposed in vehicles such as ACTA, SOPA or TPP.
  7. Start now.
 An example of why we need to have this discussion: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/07/06/pol-access-to-information-30th-anniversary.html