Censorship and freedom of speech dominate list of clauses voted on by the public for a ‘Magna Carta for the digital age’

Top 10 clauses for a Magna Carta for the digital age as voted for by the public.

Today the British Library reveals the top 10 clauses that could be included in a ‘Magna Carta for the digital age’. The top clauses have been selected by over 30,000 voters  who have visited the site and chosen their favourites from over 500 clauses published on the site a week ago (8 June).

The results indicate that government surveillance and censorship are the most popular issues when it comes to the Web.

The top ten clauses contrast the make-up of the original 500 clauses written by schools, which showed a stronger emphasis on online safety and privacy.

The top 10 most popular clauses are:

  • The Web we want will not let companies pay to control it, and not let governments restrict our right to information
  • The Web we want will allow freedom of speech
  • The Web we want will be free from government censors in all countries
  • The Web we want will not allow any kind of government censorship
  • The Web we want will be available for all those who wish to use it
  • The Web we want will be free from censorship and mass surveillance
  • The Web we want will allow equal access to knowledge, information and current news worldwide
  • The Web we want will have freedom of speech
  • The Web we want will not be censored by the government
  • The Web we want will not sell our personal information and preferences for money, and will make it clearer if the company/Website intends to do so

Since February 2015, when the project was launched on BBC Radio 1’s The Surgery, over 500 clauses have been submitted by thousands of school students (aged 10-18 years old) around the world as part of the British Library’s Magna Carta: My Digital Rights project.

Using My Digital Rights teaching resources, students took part in debates and workshops to consider a range of issues online, from cyberbullying to surveillance. Analysis of the clauses published on the British Library’s website last week showed students who participated in workshops leaning towards safety, protecting young people and preventing bullying on the Web, over freedom of speech or freedom of the internet (29% compared to 17%).

“It has been fascinating to see how the public’s top clauses have compared to those of the thousands of students who have co-created this ‘Magna Carta for the digital age’,” says Sarah Shaw, project manager of Magna Carta: My Digital Rights.

“The project was conceived to encourage young people to think about issues of privacy, access and freedom raised by Magna Carta in the digital age. These ‘Top 10’ clauses we have revealed today show a snapshot of how the public feel at this 800th anniversary moment about our rights and responsibilities on the Web.”

The project was jointly conceived by the British Library, World Wide Web Foundation, Southbank Centre and British Council and forms part of the Library’s Learning programme, supporting our major anniversary exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy.

The public can continue to vote for their favourite clauses on the My Digital Rights website and the ‘Top 10’ clauses will remain online as an ever-evolving ‘Magna Carta for the digital age’.


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Notes to Editors

Magna Carta: My Digital Rights is an international schools' programme inviting young people across the UK and overseas to consider their rights and responsibilities online. This project has been jointly conceived by the British Library, World Wide Web Foundation, Southbank Centre and British Council as part of a collaborative programme to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

A range of teaching resources supporting the study of Citizenship, Computing and PSHE at Secondary and FE level were designed to help teachers get the most out of the website. You can see our introductory videos, specialist articles and classroom resources online here.

The project accompanies our major public programme marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015. For more information about our Magna Carta learning resources and public programme please visit our website, www.bl.uk/magna-carta.

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy is a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition bringing together for the first time the iconic documents and artefacts that tell the story of Magna Carta. Among over 200 exhibits are two of the four original 1215 Magna Carta documents, Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original copies of the US Bill of Rights, both on display in the UK for the first time, as well as stunning manuscripts, paintings, statues and royal relics.

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