Digital Magna Carta Top 10 rights revealed

The British Library has revealed the top 10 clauses that the public would like to see included in a Magna Carta for the digital age.

The current number one clause is: “Not let companies pay to control it [the web] and not let governments restrict our right to information”, which was written by students aged 12. The top provisions have been selected by more than 30,000 voters, who chose their favourites from over 500 clauses drawn up by students between the ages of 10 and 18, half of whom were overseas.

The voting project, called My Digital Rights, marks the 800th anniversary of King John's signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede and also the 25th anniversary of the world wide web. Even though the public vote is symbolic, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been a fervent supporter of the digital Magna Carta idea, saying that more needs to be done to protect privacy and limit surveillance.

Based on the results, government surveillance and censorship are the most popular issues when it comes to the web. However, in contrast to the general public, the issues that concerned most young people who took part in the debates were safety and cyberbullying. According to a ComRes analysis, 29 per cent of students opted for protecting young people and preventing bullying on the web, while some even called for ‘cyber police’ to patrol the internet.

“It has been fascinating to see how the public's top clauses have compared to those of the thousands of students who have co-created this 'Magna Carta for the digital age',” said Sarah Shaw, the British Library's project manager of Magna Carta: My Digital Rights.

“The project was conceived to encourage young people to think about issues of privacy, access and freedom, raised by Magna Carta, in the digital age. These Top 10 clauses we have revealed today show a snapshot of how the public feel, at this 800th anniversary moment, about our rights and responsibilities on the web.”

The project was a joint effort between the British Library, the World Wide Web Foundation, Southbank Centre and the British Council. Voting is still open, so the Top 10 could change again.

The Top 10 clauses so far:

  1. The Web we want will not let companies pay to control it, and not let governments restrict our right to information.
  2. The Web we want will allow freedom of speech.
  3. The Web we want will not allow any kind of government censorship.
  4. The Web we want will be free from government censors in all countries.
  5. The Web we want will be free from censorship and mass surveillance.
  6. The Web we want will allow equal access to knowledge, information and current news worldwide.
  7. The Web we want will have freedom of speech.
  8. The Web we want will be available for all those who wish to use it.
  9. The Web we want will not be censored by the government.
  10. The Web we want will not sell our personal information and preferences for money, and will make it clearer if the company/website intends to do so.

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