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Italy: first European country with internet bill of rights

As the first European country Italy has introduced on July 28 2015 an internet bill of rights. The aim is far reaching:

"This Declaration of Internet Rights is founded on the full recognition of
the liberty, equality, dignity and unique diversity of each individual."

Followed by a statement that is ambitious and valuable albeit also a bit naïve:

"Preserving these rights is crucial to ensuring the democratic functioning of
institutions and avoiding the predominance of public and private powers that
may lead to a society of surveillance, control and social selection."

Governments as well as companies realize the value of information in our present day society, and I am not sure whether they are willing to step as much back from data gathering and analytics as might be desired from a legal and ethical perspective. Years to come will show where we are heading right now, and I hope that when we look back in five or ten years from now we do not have the feeling "why did we ever go there". I do believe the coming years are very important for the shaping of what we do want to do with the many good (and bad) things internet technology can bring us.

Article 1 is somewhat superfluous although in this context stating the obvious is not necessarily a bad thing. This article indicates that fundamental rights as we know them from the UN declaration and EU charter also apply online.

I am not going through all other articles, but it is an interesting read. Article 2 deals with the obvious right to internet access and access to online knowledge and education is covered in article 3. What follows is a list of the "usual suspects" starting with net neutrality and much separate articles on privacy/data protection, including the right to be forgotten (Article 11).

Under the heading Internet Governance we find in the closing Article 14 some reasonable but unrealistic declarations like "Every person has the right to both national and international recognition of their rights. ", "The Internet requires rules consistent with its universal, supranational scope (...)  to safeguard its open and democratic nature", and finally "The establishment of national and international authorities is essential to effectively ensure observance of the above criteria, including through an evaluation of the compliance of the new rules with the principles of this Declaration."

We can of course striving to realize the objectives, but there are countries in the world that will never comply with what is stated. Sad, but true.

See also a comment from two colleagues on the LSE blog

 

 



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