Reddit users draft legislation to protect internet freedom

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A group of Reddit users has banded together to write its own legislation aimed at protecting freedom on the web. The group, which has gathered around the sub reddit r/fia, is drafting a piece of legislation it calls the Free Internet Act (FIA).

The people behind FIA claim they want to “promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation by preventing the restriction of liberty and preventing the means of censorship”.

According to the group, “FIA will allow internet users to browse freely without any means of censorship”.

It is writing the legislation, it claims, because “users have the right to free speech and to free knowledge; we govern the content of the internet, governments don’t”.

The people behind the bill do not; however, appear to be of the “every single piece of content on the web should be free, no matter what” mentality.

They acknowledge, for instance, that “enforcements/laws must also be put into place to protect copyrighted content”.

An Austrian reddit user called “RoyalWithCheese22” came up with the idea for FIA, following concerns around copyright protection legislations SOPA,PIPA and ACTA.

Reddit was among the biggest platforms to go black in protest to SOPA and PIPA .

Inspired by this success, the user reportedly thought “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.”

FIA has been entirely crowdsourced and the group aims to have it pass through both congress in the USA and the European parliament.

The actual proposed legislation is fairly detailed and has six articles to date. If passed the articles would guarantee everything from network neutrality, to “Service providers, downloader(s) or viewer(s) may not held liable for any illegal content posted” and prior warning when any data or files require removal “from web-pages or from cloud storage”.

The last of these appears to be clear dig at the FBI’s targeting of services such as MegaUpload.

Crowdsourcing legislation isn’t exactly new — after all the citizens of Iceland crowdsourced their constitution in 2011. This would, however, appear to be one of the first incidences of an online community drafting its own legislation from the ground up.

It remains to be seen whether the group can actually get any legislative body to look at its proposed bill. At the very least, though, some members of the community might get an education in exactly what it takes to put an act of law together.

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