Column: The Internet Needs a ‘Bill of Responsibilities’ |

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution bans the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. It does not ban the government from accessing all data. There are very legitimate reasons for authorities to collect data, including to prosecute criminals and prevent terrorism.

5. Don’t share or amplify harmful speech online.

The internet gives users unprecedented freedom to communicate with large audiences around the world. But while some speech can and should be illegal (such as child pornography and posting content in violation of copyright), other speech that may be lawful is nonetheless harmful, such as disinformation, bullying, and hate speech.

While internet platforms can and should moderate some of this user-generated content, the responsibility ultimately rests with us to ensure that online speech, however imperfect, reflects society as we wish it to be.

6. Obtain basic digital literacy, especially for online security.

The collective security of the internet depends on everyone doing their part. For example, many data breaches and phishing attacks can be thwarted by using secure credentials and avoiding suspicious emails. When users fail to take appropriate measures, the damage often extends to others, as with ransomware attacks.

Tocqueville’s “principle of self-interest rightly understood” dictates that we exhibit, in small daily acts, “habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, [and] self-command.”


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