Richard Barbrook is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Westminster. In the early 1980s, he was involved with pirate and community radio broadcasting. Having worked on media regulation within the EU for some years at a research institute at the University of Westminster, much of his material was published in his 1995 book Media Freedom. Working with Andy Cameron, he wrote The Californian Ideology which was a pioneering critique of the neo-liberal politics of Wired magazine. His other important writings about the Net include The Hi-Tech Gift Economy, Cyber-communism, The Regulation of Liberty and The Class of the New. The Media Ecology Association selected Imaginary Futures as the winner of the 2008 Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book of the Year in the Field of Media Ecology. In 2014, his book about Situationist gaming was published: Class Wargames: ludic subversion against spectacular capitalism.
The Net Bill of Rights
In the 21st century’s information society, personal freedom is now threatened by the intrusive attentions of both authoritarian states and monopolistic businesses. If liberty and democracy are to be enhanced within the Net, what is now required is an energetic public debate over how to construct a new constitutional settlement which nurtures today’s collective forms of digital citizenship. Platform co-ops need take this into account when determining their own handling of the data generated by workers and employers alike. The sharing of information over the Net is a premonition of the democratization of the whole productive process. If they are to contribute to this collaborative endeavor, everyone must have access to the knowledge and technologies which will be used to build the emerging network society. Like its liberal and socialist predecessors, this new dispensation should be guided by its own rules of the game. The creation of a Net Bill of Rights codifies the mutually agreed principles for regulating individuals’ on-line activities in the common interest. By collectively defining a new vision of digital citizenship, this generation can make its own world-historical contribution towards building a truly human civilization. The better future must be anticipated in the troubled present. Let’s seize this opportunity to transform our utopian dreams into everyday life!