||On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United
Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Fifty
years later, we reaffirm those principles and recognize their extension into the new frontier of
globally interconnected cyberspace. In a world where access to information,
technology, and connectivity are the keys to individual empowerment, these rights are as
fundamental as those in the physical world.
Here, we offer our draft proposal of a Declaration of Human Rights in
Cyberspace, based on the principles of the Universal
Declaration. We offer this document for debate and discussion, and as a potential
voluntary pledge which individuals and organizations can take with regard to their own
policies and actions in the global communications network.
You are invited to participate in our discussion
forum about this document and also to bring it to the attention of individuals,
companies, social organizations and political groups you are connected with. By involving
ALL who use the Net or who may have the need or desire to do so in the future, we can make
cyberspace a place that fosters the best of human thought and ideals.
Whereas recognition that the Internet and its related networks represent an open avenue
for potential improvement of the human condition, including freedom, justice, equality,
and peace worldwide,
Whereas the transition from a property-based to information-based society creates a new
power structure that also has the potential to oppress and exploit those lacking skills or
access to information and communications tools,
Whereas certain geographical governments and other non-governmental organizations have
attempted to assert their authority and values over this uncharted, non-localized place,
subjecting it to their specific rules, laws, and values, in many cases disregarding the
difference in cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, or economic circumstances of its
Whereas it is recognized that each person has certain inalienable rights by virtue of
their humanity, those being enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN
Gen. Assembly, 1948), especially as relates to the advent of a world in which human beings
shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been
proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, in a globally networked information society that fundamental
human rights extend to embrace access to education and connectivity, and that these too
should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is vital to promote the dissemination of information, as a resource which when
shared, is multiplied, rather than divided between its possessors,
Whereas the peoples of the various communities of cyberspace do herein affirm their faith
in fundamental human rights in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal
rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better
standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance
for the full realization of this pledge,
We, the citizens of cyberspace
THIS DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS in CYBERSPACE as a common standard of achievement to the
end that every individual and every organization of the information infrastructure,
keeping this Declaration in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote
respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, online and in the
physical world, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, among
service providers, individual and organizational users, and the institutions of humanity
The ideas and expressions of all human beings deserve an equal opportunity to be
expressed, considered, and shared with others, at the discretion of the originator and the
receiver, directly or indirectly.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without
distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, economics, birth or other status. Furthermore, no
distinction shall be made on the basis of the political or physical jurisdiction, nor of
their method accessing the network.
Everyone has the right to privacy, anonymity, and security in online transactions.
Disclosure of personal information shall not be coerced by service providers nor sites,
and when required, should be accomplished with informed consent.
Without prior agreement, no one should be subjected to unsolicited mass email,
server-clogging file-attachments, or invasive applets.
While everyone has an equal right to access information or enter communities on the Net,
continuing participation in those communities should be contingent upon behavior standards
developed and expressed within those communities.
Existing laws such as those protecting minors and consumers apply to cyberspace as well as
the physical world, however prosecution may depend on agreements between geographic
jurisdictions. Such agreements must respect the fundamental rights of the individual,
regardless of the legal system under which they live.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy at law for violations of their rights,
freedoms, or for fraudulent misappropriation of funds or information.
No one should be subjected to arbitrary surveillance of either content or association
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and open hearing by an independent and
impartial tribunal, in the determination of rights and obligations and of any criminal
charge against him or her.
Everyone has the right to a basic level of information access via public institutions and
Everyone, everywhere has the right to choose a privacy technology to protect their
communications and transactions, and should not be subject to prosecution for the nature
of that technology.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression; this right
includes freedom to change those beliefs, and freedom, either alone or in community
online, to manifest belief or religion in teaching, practice, worship and observance. No
one should be subject to harassment or prosecution for the expression of their views.
Everyone has the right to choose the service provider they prefer, and to change providers
as they see fit. Those unable to pay for service have the right to choose from
"free" and "public" services, regardless of their locality.
No one should be arbitrarily deprived of his access or email account, nor be subjected to
unreasonable terms or changes in service.
Everyone has the freedom to choose whom he or she will associate with online. No one
should be compelled to belong to a community or visit sites not of their choosing.
Each person's personal information and information about their activity online is valuable
private property, under the control of the individual generating it. Everyone has the
right to determine the value of that property for themselves, and choose to disclose or
exchange it as they see fit.
Everyone has the right to form communities of interest , affinity, and function.
Everyone has the right to education in new technologies. Public institutions should offer
courses in basic applications as well as online communications for all. Special
consideration should be given to the poor, the elderly, and those most in need. Education
should be directed to the empowerment of the individual, to strengthen self-esteem, to
Parents have a right and responsibility to guide the online experience of their children
based on their own views. No agency or institution has the right to supercede parental
choices in this regard.
Everyone has the right to distribute his or her literary, artistic, or scientific work
online, with reasonable expectation of protection for copyrighted material.
Everyone is entitled to a social order in cyberspace in which the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Everyone is responsible for his or her actions and expressions, and is entitled to the
credit or condemnation stemming therefrom.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted to imply authority to any State, group or
person to enforce or interfere with these principles. No entity has the right to perform
any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Originally drafted by Robert B.
November 12, 1997
This effort is being sponsored by The
Digital Be-In, a production of Verbum, Inc.
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