[IRP] Initial feedback when reading the document

Vittorio Bertola vb
Wed Sep 15 11:45:29 EEST 2010


I was quite happy to see that progress has been made through the years. 
I thought I would share quick feedback from someone who has been 
involved in these matters but that reads the document for the first 
time, hoping that it could be useful. I hope I won't touch issues that 
have already been long discussed, and that no one takes my opinionated 
sentences as an offense.

The first thing that I noticed was that this document doesn't "click" 
anything in my mind. Such a charter - especially if we hope in 
bottom-up, soft-law adoption - should make you say "wow! this is really 
great" as soon as you read the first few lines. If you think at all the 
great Charters (national and international), their preambles and/or 
Article 1's are memorable - they stick to your mind as a noble and 
undeniable truth. This doesn't happen here (the restatement of UDHR's 
Article 1 falls into the realm of the obvious); perhaps it's more of a 
literary feat than of a technical/legal one, but something should be 
done to this regard.

E.g., the Charter should start by talking about the special value of the 
Internet and of its socio-technical model to the future of mankind, 
rather than about the fact that everyone was born equal (which is to be 
given for granted). This text looks like a practical implementation of 
the UDHR over the Internet, not like a principle charter to protect the 
positive spirit and value of the Internet for the generations to come.

The second observation is that the document often seems to fall into 
wishful thinking: "things should be like this, but well, maybe not, 
let's see... where appropriate". Now, either something is a right, or it 
isn't. I'd rather be bold in affirming in an absolute manner the rights 
in which we believe, even if they are not presently implemented or 
widely recognized - and if something is a suggestion rather than a 
principle, then it doesn't fit into this document. Phrasing like "people 
should consider doing this" sounds like begging, not like an affirmation 
of rights that one should take seriously.

Also, vague forms, if they really can't be removed, should at least be 
less vague: e.g. "broadband should be available where appropriate" could 
rather be "broadband should be available where technically feasible", at 
least you would reduce the room for malevolent interpretations.

Then of course there are observations on specific issues, and a striking 
feeling that the "Charter of Human Rights for the Internet" actually 
does not talk much about the Internet (it feels like a sequence of 
"whatever right existed before also exists over the Internet", and the 
point of saying this is unclear). But this is enough for the moment, and 
I hope I will have a chance to contribute actual wording proposals 
rather than just criticize.

vb.                   Vittorio Bertola - vb [a] bertola.eu   <--------
-------->        now blogging & more at http://bertola.eu/   <--------

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