Tim Berners-Lee’s bill of rights – Will it actually happen?
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Tim Berners-Lee’s bill of rights – Will it actually happen?

October 13, 2019

Earlier today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator
of the world wide web, made an unprecedented call.
Speaking on the 25th anniversary of his creation, Sir Tim said there needed to be a “Magna Carta”-style
bill of rights to protect web users… Otherwise the online community could just
end up continuing down a road towards more and more government surveillance.
We need to, at this point, it’s 25 years on. We need to think about the next 25 years and
make sure that we’ve established the principles that the web is being based on: principles
of openness, principles of privacy, principles of not being censored, for example.
Sir Tim compared the level of importance of online rights to that of human rights and
stressed that the internet should be a “neutral” medium that could be used without the threat
of surveillance. The inventor’s World Wide Web Foundation has
already begun moves towards such a bill of rights with it’s “web we want” campaign.
The campaign calls for an “open, universal web” that will hold up the vision laid out
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and says that the first step is to draft an
Internet Users Bill of Rights for every country, which can then be proposed to governments.
While all this sounds great however, we can’t help but be cynical and think that governments
are unlikely to take Sir Tim up on his offer. And here’s just a few reasons why… Governments like being able to keep their
eyes on us… When we say “governments” here we’re mostly
referring to the United States and United Kingdom who were revealed last May to have
the ability to spy on the online activities of millions of ordinary citizens via the US’
National Security Agency and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters.
And if the US and UK’s response to the Edward Snowden revelations are anything to go by,
they’re unlikely to give up this ability anytime soon.
Rather than apologising for the massive breach in privacy and public trust, the politicians
of both countries deflected blame onto the whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as the
Guardian newspaper that first published his leaks.
Of course, we’re under no illusions that other governments aren’t spying on web users too
– just probably not to the same scale as the US, and its collaborator the UK. And even
if governments did agree to an internet bill of rights, it’s unlikely that this would prevent
their intelligence agencies from spying on web users – they just wouldn’t tell anyone
about it. So pretty much the same as now then. It could put a stop to the Trans Pacific Partnership
(TPP) – or at least to parts of it. The TPP is one of the most ambitious free
trade agreements ever attempted. And if agreed, would see stronger economic and regulatory
ties between at least 12 countries, including the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile,
Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.
The specifics of the agreement are being deliberately kept secret by the governments involved BUT
back in November Wikileaks managed to obtain the chapter relating to intellectual property.
And it revealed that all web users should be VERY concerned.
If agreed, this chapter would extend the length of time that original works are covered by
copyright for as well as bring in the idea that even temporary copies of original works
are covered by copyright. You say, well, why would I care about that.
Well, everything travelling across the internet is actually a copy. Everything on your computer
when you download stuff, when you watch this programme, is a copy. And they want to bring
in copyright for that, so you’d have to get permission just to download anything across
the internet. Or even have it on your computer. So, they’re trying to broaden the range of
copyright. They’re also trying to make the DRM, the idea of locking down copyright materials
even more stringent so that you can’t actually break the copyright on things like DVDs or
or anything else, bring in more stringent laws against that. They want to bring in very
harsh civil damages so if you’re found to have infringed on copyright they want to bring
in laws that would effectively let you be sued for practically everything. They’re claiming
things like the effective loss of revenue, the lost profits, the damages, they just pile
it on so to try to make it as expensive as possible.
And although the TPP only involves 11 countries, the nature of the world wide web means that
all web users would be affected by any such agreement.
And that large copyright holders would likely rake in huge amounts of profit off of the
back of it. So, if the governments involved in the TPP
were to agree to a bill of rights for web users, they would likely have to do away with
any deal on intellectual property that related to the internet. And this is unlikely to go
down well with the US in particular, which is in the pockets of the lobbyists of the
companies that hold large volumes of copyrighted material. And who are allegedly the ones responsible
for writing this part of the TTP. Corporations, on the whole, don’t like net
neutrality. One of the things that Sir Tim stressed in
his call for a bill of online rights was that the internet should be a “neutral” medium.
Which is unlikely to go down well with the companies who would like to see an end to
net neutrality. Net neutrality, or the open internet, is a
principle that says all legal content on the internet is equal. And in practice this principle
prevents internet service providers from interfering with, or discriminating against any data sent
through their pipes. Which means that providers can’t allow some data to arrive at your computer
quicker, simply because that data is owned by them, for example, or because the owners
of that data are paying for it to be delivered quicker.
But recently there’s been a trend against this, particularly in the US. On 14 January
of this year, in a ruling in favour of internet service provider Verizon, a US court threw
out the country’s open internet rules, and since then, in a game-changing deal, Netflix
has paid provider Comcast an undisclosed sum to speed up the delivery of Netflix content.
Obviously deals like this give certain companies an advantage over their competitors, an advantage
they are unlikely to want to let go just because Sir Tim and millions of us web users want
it so. And as we’ve seen with the copyright industry,
when it comes to the internet, companies usually have more sway over government decisions than
web users like you and me. Of course, these are just a few of the reasons
why governments are unlikely to agree to a bill of rights for web users. And we’d love
to hear your thoughts on this so leave us a comment below and we’ll see you again next

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I say no to online bill of rights, i feel it would bring more restrictions on the everyday users and not affect the trouble makers, keep the web wild!

  2. I remember when you could step on the internet without worrying about being sued for copyright. Those were the days.

  3. Like for everything else, I you want power, it doesn't come for free, you have to fight for it. The problem is that unlike the average citizen, governments and corporations are equipped and used to fight for power. I'm quite pessimistic on this one, I think the situation will have to become really orwellian for quite a while before the people get really fed up and rise. For the moment, we all have too much to lose, and so we shut up cowardly. Me the first.

  4. In the uk if labour wanted back in to power in parliament then the only thing they would have to say would be that they would bring in this internet rights bill. it would be an easy we win this election for them.

  5. If they decide to ignore this new Magna Carta, i'd like to remind the world there are still plenty of English people, and it's been a long time since we had a good old fashioned rebellion.

  6. Not a single government should be able to 'agree' to it. The internet doesn't belong to anyone so they should deal with it. 

    Or we have to come up with our own version of the internet.

  7. Hmmm… Of the people, by the people, and for the people, right? Well I guess technically that is right, since in America companies are considered people legally…

  8. Whilst individual EU member states may not be willing to adopt this law; in the European Union the Parliament is separate to the government (the Commission). Under the European Citizens' Initiative legislation may be initiated citizens providing they get enough signatures; separate to the Commission. Then all that needs to happen is the Parliament and the Council need to adopt it (the Parliament certainly will and the Council of member states is unlikely to go against their own citizens), they have both adopted net neutrality law in the past. So the best chance Europeans can seek to make this law is by collecting signatures for a European Citizens' Initiative.  

  9. The TPP is totally stacked toward US gaining at the cost of every other country again. The other 95% of the planet really needs to dump the dollar asap.

  10. Why does everyone care if America/England are spying on what yo do… if your not doing anything illegal etc why the fuck do you care if they see what  your doing?

  11. Is our future really going to be so dystopian?  Well it will if you let it.  Right now we're letting it, make no mistake.  

  12. im not a big fan of net neutrality myself. its a bit like leaving a huge pile of cheese in the middle of the living room and then upon developing a mouse problem releasing a bunch of cats instead of simply putting the cheese away. think of what would be the net result of service providers paying for bandwidth. eventually this would make internet totally free to consumers! and why shouldn't people who want to publish their content pay for that service anyway? or alternatively consumers could chose to pay for the publisher to be able to deliver the content. more freedom makes everyone better off. let consumers decide. of course this only works if the government isnt protecting monopoly/polyopoly through legislation regulation and tax code. fixing that is what i mean by putting the cheese away.

  13. Well isnt this just great, yet again large companies are caring more about their wallets then their customers.

  14. Everything is fine the way it is! Stop trying to fix things that don't need to be fixed. Why not focus on actual problems like I dunno….the Ukraine crisis perhaps?

  15. A bill of rights, the ENTIRE bill of rights. Specifically the first and second. Both are intertwined or it will be useless.

  16. funny how u make something awesome that unites the world through information, and your government and my government tell him how to use his creation lolz

  17. The only way to stop spying, is to kill a spy. Sad, but true. You cant trust a spy.

    Also 4 dislikes were from NSA.

  18. The only way to kill a corporation is to starve it of it's income. All of these organizations that would see the internet censored, or spied on need to be boycotted by web users. Think of it as DDOS but in reverse. Digital Denial of Consumers.

  19. I mean im perfectly fine with internet surveillance. I mean your only being spied on if your a friend of a friend of a terrorist or if your doing something illegal. And i mean how many of you have a facebook, twitter, G+, Tumblr, Etc. account. Your info is already out there. What is everyone afraid of. I personally thing snowden is traitorous scum. And a Psychopathic Conspiracist. However i do think things like DRM and things like forcing you to have to pay more to use Netflix and such need to be changed. However i personally feel our information is safer when watched to a degree.

  20. it'l end of giving more rights to corporations than people if we allow governments to create it, since there is no law or bill thats better than those that write it. and there are no civil liberties not based on the threat of violent reprisal for violation.

  21. I wonder what would happen if the internet was "established" as a separate entity that could be used by all, but under the bill of rights that are established for it. People who would use the internet would be protected by the Rights of the Internet if the governments are forced by the people to acknowledge them as law. By doing so, governments could not OPENLY violate these laws. I understand that this would require bountiful amounts of public interest, but it could be plausible.

  22. So Al Gore IS
    Sir Tim Berners-Lee?
    And Really?  US and UK are the most known Web Spies?  Maybe that is because so many other countries completely sensor web content if access is allowed at all. 

  23. Technically, the fourth ammendment to the constitution, in our bill of rights. would fall under the privacy of your information, but it needs another ammendment to it since it hasnt been edited with the times since the late seventies early eighties before the internet existed just like censorship on it violates the first ammendment. The tpp is far from anything to promote and help free trade, it's made to make the corporations control and eradicate their competition thats not in their circle, why else would they be doing it behind closed doors. Bildaberg meetings are held behind closed doors and look what damage they do each year.

  24. 25 years ago there was no internet and people survived. If they want a war over the Internet I say let them have their war. When the day comes that you have no rights and are completely and held accountable online then dispose of it and we'll see how long they last without us paying their NSA salaries..

  25. "Loss or profits."

    Now government is not just based on spaghetti monsterlike belief but they can also see into the future.

  26. Perhaps there should be illegal for content providers, (organizations which make stuff available for download, whether for free or at a cost), to also be service providers, (organizations which bring Internet service to your home or office.) It would at least tend to discourage service providers from throttling the Internet if they had no content of their own to favour. That alone wouldn't be enough, though.

  27. I absolutely think the Internet should be protected and made a human right. I think a kind of global organization, free from corporate or state influence, should be established to prevent censorship and protect privacy online. Governments and company's like Comcast/MPAA/RIAA have the ability to destroy the internet as we know it, unless enough people stand up and make themselves heard.

  28. If they do this extended copyright thing and I would live in the USA I would be longer in prison than somone that is in prison for murder….

  29. the problem i have with Bills Of Rights, im finding, is they can be CHANGED or BENT or people in power can just totally ignore them by giving themselves immunity to its rights. IF theres a government overseeing THOSE rights or an internet type establishment that has power overseeing those rights. Because the Bill Of Rights in America right now are under fcking siege from people that have given themselves immunity from the system. That could happen to the internet as SOON as you see someone or a group becoming an overseer of the internet. All it would take is a group disguising themselves as an internet rights group controlling the internet and BANG all rights will be gone. Also can you TRUST the people that will write them? because you are asking for a governing body of the internet and you dont even know it lol. Seriously i reckon people dont think sht through.

  30. Global elite scum, the open web is our greatest weapon against the Corporatocracy of the planet, time for people to wake up to the impending new world order

  31. They already control our laws, economy and food. I believe they want to control the Internet to stop any chance of a global revolution/awakening.

  32. There's a new paradigm which has been 'waiting-in-the-wings' for decades & is called a Resource Based Economy. Jacque Fresco is the continuation of ppl like DaVinci, Tesla & Bucky Fuller. He has the solutions 2 all of r global problems. Only thing is, our technology has been sabotaged. If used intelligently, we cud reclaim the earth's health & provide 4 ALL inhabitants. If ur ready 2 Upgrade, visit thevenusproject or thezeitgeistmovement dotcoms. This is one of those ideas "whose time has come" Peace, Gramma D "^_^"

  33. These companies bankrupt our countries and then want to make the governments sign into a treaty to tie them all together?

  34. I think soon enough we will be under the iron fist of corporate/government more than we are now, so i support tim berners lee, i hope he succeeds, for what difference it will make. Good video aswell, very informative.

  35. if i had a time machine,
    i would go back and make sure little timmys parents never met…

  36. Net neutrality is a lie, because you have to pay for access anyway. If you don't have access, what's the point in caring about copyright? The internet may have the illusion of neutrality because everybody can use it, but ultimately, it only takes a simple synchorinized set of EMPs to knock it out of existence. Even if a new world order emerges in a century, somebody will be standing at the gate to let you in.

  37. Laura, I love you…… BUT!!! Will your sound editing person please figure it out when it comes to the huge volume differences between the music and the voice overs!!! PLEASE!  I wont stop watching you, but its getting tiresome to do so while constantly adjusting my volume up and down. Thanks!

  38. Government currently throw they enemies in jail and no not have to comply with international law or human rights

    Why not make a video on the countries and amount of countries which have transitioned from democracy to dictatorship

  39. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the "No copies (even temporary ones)" rule COMPLETELY break the web? One could not do something like read a comic online, unless that comic became copyright-free, and thus give no profit to the owner, right?

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