W3C hosting a "Web We Want Magna Carta" drafting session at Internet Governance Forum

The Web I want doesn't have DRM in its standards, because the Web I want doesn't believe it's legitimate to design computers so that strangers over a network can give your computer orders that you aren't allowed to know about or override.

Unfortunately, the W3C has caved to Netflix, the BBC and other big rightsholders who insisted that this become part of the HTML5 standard. Now that DRM is going to be in every browser as standard, any Web-capable computer will have software whose flaws are illegal to report (because disclosing information that can be used to break DRM is illegal all over the world), and will become reservoirs of long-lived vulnerabilities ripe for exploitation by voyeurs, identity thieves, creeps, spies, cops, and corrupt governments.

The W3C can't undertake any kind of serious work to enshrine privacy in the Web while they're standardizing a convenient backdoor for surveillance technology.

There's an easy way for the W3C to remediate this, though: they can adopt a DRM policy similar to its patent policy. Under the patent policy, anyone can participate in standards, but if they do, they have to freely license their patents to be used by anyone who builds a browser or server.

Under this DRM policy, anyone could work on DRM standards, but if you did, you'd have to sign a covenant not to sue or prosecute people who disclosed vulnerabilities in it, or people who implemented it without your permission. A standard is something anyone can implement, not a proprietary technology you need someone else's permission to make.

Here are a few ideas for questions:

* Could we overcome linguistic, political, and cultural barriers in order to mobilize around issues of net neutrality and pervasive surveillance?

* How can we design both a technological platform and social process in a way that overcomes rather than increases barriers to inclusion?

* How can we get the participation of those who are disconnected or otherwise excluded from the Internet itself, the majority of the world?

Crowdsourcing a Magna Carta for the Web at the Internet Governance Forum [Harry Halpin/W3C]

(Image: Magna Carta (British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106), Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)