As more and more of our activities move online and the internet plays an integral role in our day to day lives, it must be remembered that the rights we enjoy as American citizens do not stop at technology’s doorstep. It is important, therefore, to ensure that the protections established in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights serve Americans in the digital world just as effectively as they do in the real world. With this in mind, we therefore propose a Digital Bill of Rights:
I. The right to due process shall be preserved in the digital realm.
You don’t forfeit your rights as soon as you log onto the internet. Just as in the physical world, digital searches and seizures must require a properly issued, individual warrant, and not be conducted arbitrarily or in bulk.
II. The internet does not give government agencies the right to tax or regulate outside of their proper jurisdictions.
The existence of e-commerce does not mean that states or localities should be able to tax or regulate outside their borders. The presence of digital activity does not grant the government new extra-territorial authority.
III. The right to freedom of expression shall be preserved online.
Freedom of expression without fear of government censorship is the backbone of a free society. As more of our communications are conducted online, this freedom must be preserved. This also includes the existence of a robust public domain to foster creativity and innovation.
IV. Government shall not erect barriers to prevent or control internet access.
The government should never actively prevent people from being able to take advantage of the internet’s bounty. This means no taxation of internet access, and not restricting the means by which service providers offer access.
V. The right to secure data shall not be compromised.
E-commerce depends on the secure transfer of sensitive information. Government should never demand, through the mandated use of back doors or weakened encryption standards, that companies put their clients’ privacy at risk.
The FreedomWorks Digital Bill of Rights was created by Chief Economist Dr. Wayne Brough, Legislative Affairs Manager Josh Withrow, and Senior Research Analyst Logan Albright.