Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web

08Sep07

Luckily the discussion about social networks as closed systems and their users’ rights is increasing on the Web. At stake are some important issues – content ownership & privacy, data portability, policy transparency, etc. – affecting millions of people who often use the social web without paying much attention to such delicate matters. Welcome then to this Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web, proposed by four Web 2.0 pioneers (Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, Michael Arrington). Of course it’s a work-in-progress, a document intended to spur conversation and debate. The Open Social Web where the Bill originated a couple of days ago is attracting lots interesting comments, including some important addenda. Here are its basic principles:

We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

* Ownership of their own personal information, including:
o their own profile data
o the list of people they are connected to
o the activity stream of content they create;
* Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
* Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.

Sites supporting these rights shall:

* Allow their users to syndicate their own profile data, their friends list, and the data that’s shared with them via the service, using a persistent URL or API token and open data formats;
* Allow their users to syndicate their own stream of activity outside the site;
* Allow their users to link from their profile pages to external identifiers in a public way; and
* Allow their users to discover who else they know is also on their site, using the same external identifiers made available for lookup within the service.



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