On the 25th birthday of Tim Berners-Lee’s publishing of the original idea for the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee has called for the establishment of a “Magna Carta” or a “Bill of Rights” to protect the rights of users. From the Reuters report:
The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, called on Wednesday for bill of rights to protect freedom of speech on the Internet and users’ rights after leaks about government surveillance of online activity.
At Virtru, we’d like to offer an amendment for consideration:
Amendment 1: On the User’s Fundamental Right to Privacy
The Free Web shall be subject to no law abridging the right of individual users to encrypt information. All communication services shall allow users the option to use a service with client-side encryption services based on independently verifiable encryption algorithms.
This would mean a few things. At Virtru, we’re aligned with a movement to encrypt everything and this means websites as well as email. The impact of encrypting all traffic is far less than the benefit of creating a more secure, trusted browsing experience for all. All email services should offer client-side encryption as an option, and services such as Twitter and Facebook should institute mechanisms to encrypt user data in ways that put user control first.
Every service should find a way to incorporate client-side encryption as an option. It doesn’t have to be the default option, but services should provide hooks to users who want to encrypt before sending.
Secure the Web: Protect Privacy
When Berners-Lee published his initial ideas for hypertext in 1989 it took about two years for the first version of HTTP to be released and five years for the creation of the HTTPS standard. The web is officially a grown up and we suggest that it plan to celebrate its 26th year by securing itself for the sake of all of its current and future users.
A more secure web and a web that puts user privacy first is essential to the continued growth of the web as a vehicle for free expression and international collaboration. Many compare Berners-Lee to Gutenberg, but the reality of the web is that we’re just getting started. Let’s make sure the next 25 years bring about a secure web that we can all trust.