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The question was posed “Do we need a Bill of Rights for the social web?”

Well, I personally don’t think I am qualified or possess enough knowledge on the subject to pick aside. I am more than happy to sit on fence and let the experts figure this out, but if I have to pick a side then my instincts tell me no.

Why would we need a Bill of Right for the social web. We can’t user users and creators established their set of guidelines and code of conduct. Why does everything need a mandate. In the words of Rodney King, “…can’t we all just get along.”

And even if there was a social web Bill of Rights, who is deciding upon the rules and regulations that will go in the Bill of Rights. What makes someone more an authority over another person opinion about what should or should not be included. Isn’t the point of the social web it that it is open and inclusive and there is no hierarchy or authoritative figure. In the world of the social web, I thought all women, men, children, animals, vampires and Vulcans are created equal.

And after further investigation, I see the Bill of Rights drafted by four prominent bloggers and technology leaders, Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington’s about how companies should treat the data they collect from (and on) users of social web sites.

Below is the entire text of the “Bill of Rights:”

We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

  • Ownership of their own personal information, including:
  1. Their own profile data
  2. The list of people they are connected to
  3. The activity stream of content they create;
  • Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
  • Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.

Sites supporting these rights shall:

  • Allow their users to syndicate their own profile data, their friend’s list, and the data that‚ is shared with them via the service, using a persistent URL or API token and open data formats;
  • Allow their users to syndicate their own stream of activity outside the site;
  • Allow their users to link from their profile pages to external identifiers in a public way; and
  • Allow their users to discover who else they know is also on their site, using the same external identifiers made available for lookup within the service

This is all well and good but this can’t be regulated. You go on these on your own free will. Once you enter your information your give up control. This is no different that with owning a credit card that share your information with its affiliates. Or even when you sign up with Verizon, it sends out a tiny-print leaflet to customers informing them that they’ll share subscribers’ personal information unless you explicitly opt out.

So why is the social web any different from any other institution that you enter your personal information on. Once it is put out there, it is out there and on record. Just think about when you open and close your credit card. Just because you decided to no longer do business the XYZ doesn’t mean your profile, your records are expunged like you never existed. They keep a record until they deem it no longer useful.

As I said before I don’t know a lot about the depth and reach of this animal- the social web, but I do have is commonsense. A commonsense tells me that a Bill of Rights for the social web is a dead end. Not because the social web is too big, but because it goes against the heart and soul of the social web is for open, rather non-restrictive unforced communication. But a Privacy Policy is something that I can support. A Privacy Policy that allows you to Opt In or Opt Out of its information sharing I believe is something everyone can get behind.

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  1. […] blogger Nair Blirt asks himself, who is deciding upon the rules and regulations that will go in the Bill of […]

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