“We will create a civilisation of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before”. This is the closing statement by John Barlow who wrote the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace just over 17 years ago, which calls on all users of the Cyberspace to rally against the oppressive forces of governments and the industrial world to leave their legislative control and powers to convict away from the digital construction of Cyberspace.
Take a moment to think back 17 years ago. How old were you and what were your first recollections of the Internet? I myself was nine years old. John Howard had just been sworn in as Australia’s 25th Prime Minister and a Spanish pop group by the name of Los Del Rio were at the top the charts with their global smash hit ‘The Macarena’. At this age very little thought had been given to my legal rights concerning the Internet. However, within the next 10 years that was about to change.
Barlow states in his declaration that “In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis”. Today there are event more legislative controls regarding the Internet and Cyberspace. In America alone these are the Acts that control the freedoms of over 500 million users.
- Cybersecurity Act 2012. Which maintains the integrity, confidentiality and availability of information shared across the Internet & Cyberspace.
- Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 624), which focuses onInformation sharing and coordination, including sharing of classified information
- Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013 (H.R. 756), which addresses federal R&D in networking and information technology, including but not limited to security
- Development Act of 2013 (H.R. 967), which addresses R&D in networking and information technology, including but not limited to security; and Federal Information Security
It is interesting to learn that there are more bills that are being considered by the US government concerning the regulation of the Internet. In fact, of recent time there have been more bills passed by the Obama government regarding Cybersecurity than any other US President.
Barlow references these acts of legislation as ‘guard posts’ and claims ‘they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media”. Now 17 years on from the declaration I am beginning to wonder what Mr Barlow’s definition of ‘soon’ may be.
Margaret Chon, professor from Seattle University School of Law states “almost every area of law that touches cyberspace is forced into the consideration of first principles. Just because familiar boundaries have dissolved does not mean that there are no boundaries in cyberspace”.
This is just a brief explanation of American legislation. Across the globe and even here in Australia governments are trying their best to control the realm of the Internet and Cyberspace. In 2011 Australia introduced the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment, which now enables greater enforcement of Cybercrimes and brings our laws up to standard along side 100 other nations who have also signed the Convention on Cybercrime.
17 years on Barlow’s thoughts and dreams either seem to be shattered or remain on hold. As technologies advance, so to does the legislative control of governments. The strange thing is our Cyberliberties are at stake and hardly anybody knows about it.
What are you thoughts regarding your Cyberliberties? Are you pro or against the controls of government? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @fluke_aus.
Barlow, J.P, 1996, The Declaration of Cyberspace. Available: https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html, Last accessed 14th Aug 2013.
Congressional Research Service, 2013. Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity. Available: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42114.pdf, Last accessed 14th Aug 2013.
Legalese, 1999. Learning Cyberlaw in Cyberspace. Available: http://www.cyberspacelaw.org/modules.html, Last accessed 14th Aug 2013.
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing