A Reddit Experiment in Crowd-Sourced Legislation

February 22, 2012 -

The Reddit community has been at the forefront of protesting against laws that seek to undermine a free Internet such as SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. Now a group of Reddit users are drafting legislation. For reals. 

A sub-reddit called /r/fia/ for the "Free Internet Act" offers participants a chance to draft legislation to keep the Internet free from global government intrusion and regulation. FIA is the brainchild of Austrian Reddit user "RoyalWithCheese22," who says that his (?) inspiration came from an ongoing concern about global internet censorship and bills such as SOPA and PIPA.

"My initial idea came up when I noticed all these laws popping up," Royal tells Mashable. "I got the impression it’s a worldwide trend of people trying to clamp down on the Internet. I thought, inspired by the recent success Reddit had with SOPA and PIPA, maybe I should suggest another solution to this. One that not just deals with a single law or proposed treaty but one that handles all of that."

UK Reddit user "Downing_Street_Cat" noticed Royal’s original post and started a sub-reddit dedicated to it.

"We’re aiming to create a piece of legislation that’s international and that promotes Internet freedom that prevents bills such as SOPA and ACTA," says Downing_Street_Cat.

The goal of the Free Internet Act is simple enough to understand. From the reddit page:

"To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation by preventing the restriction of liberty and preventing the means of censorship. FIA will allow internet users to browse freely without any means of censorship, users have the right to free speech and to free knowledge; we govern the content of the internet, governments don’t. However enforcements/laws must also be put into place to protect copyrighted content."

The current draft of the bill reads like the bastard child of Washington legislation and an international treaty. The basic gist of it calls for a "free and open internet" without government intervention, protection for service providers from government overreach, a strengthening of copyrights laws, no jurisdiction for any country over the Internet, and net neutrality for all. Basically, leave the Internet free.

"I think it’s a great idea to have people write the actual laws," Downing_Street_Cat says.

It's an interesting idea if it can somehow make it into the hands of lawmakers around the world. But even if it turns out to be just a grand experiment, it's a worthy cause worth participating in to see if democracy can work in a group that is sometimes like an uncontrollable ball of energy...

Source: Mashable


 
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