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OPINION

A Declaration of Independence from Unchecked Technological Tyranny

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

An “unfettered free and open Internet” policy originally made sense to nurture a promising nascent Internet experiment.  But as the past quarter century has proven, a permanent trajectory of anarchic impunity to harm others for a mature Internet is mindless madness. 

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There is no liberty, equality, or justice in anarchy.  It is past time to civilize America’s “Wild West” Internet policy.  It’s time for “We the People” to call for full restoration of constitutional authority over the U.S. Internet.

There are three chief tyrannies of U.S. Internet unaccountability policy. First, it inhumanely prioritizes protecting technology over protecting people. Second, it unjustly grants technology impunity over people. Third, it disruptively empowers technology to control and govern people without any rights, due process, or access to justice.

220 years after America’s founders declared independence from King George’s tyranny, our government in 1996 unwittingly imposed a revolutionary and utopian technology policy experiment on Americans without the consent of the governed.

It was a benign experiment in 1996, when the Internet was an electronic bulletin board used by a small percent of Americans an average of 30 minutes per month.  A well-intentioned, bipartisan consensus abdicated government authority over the nascent Internet to accelerate the Internet’s buildout and adoption.  It succeeded at that goal.

However fast forward to 2022, U.S. Internet policy is now outdated, anarchy on autopilot that is disruptively infusing and integrating into most everything, everyone does everywhere for work, life, and play.

As a result, Internet harms are out of control.  For example, most Americans or a loved one have been victims of either cyber-attacks, cyber-bullying, or cybercrime.  100,000 Americans have died from fentanyl overdoses per the White House in large part because 97% of pharmacies online are illegal per the FDA. 

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Why is it important for American citizens to declare independence from unchecked technology?

First, the history of five Administrations, thirteen Congresses, and seventeen Supreme Court Justices together—neglecting to protect people and minors from attacks, harms, and crimes online—screams that technology and corporate interests captivate U.S. Internet policy and that people don’t matter online.

Second, for a quarter century there’s been no meaningful oversight or review of the results of this unaccountability policy experiment on autopilot.

That national negligence spotlights how America is devolving away from constitutional government of the people, by the people, for the people, to unchecked government of technology and money, by technology and money, for technology and money.

Third, America’s founding Declaration of Independence is the original source and legitimacy of people not tolerating tyranny, of the American people’s “unalienable rights,” and of “the right of the people to alter or abolish” “any form of government that becomes destructive.”

America’s double standard of Constitutional authority and accountability offline but approved anarchy online has proven destructively divisive and disruptive throughout America.

Fourth, our Constitution empowers citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, and petition our government.  Thus, We the People grassroots are the most legitimate and essential driver to restore Constitutional authority over the U.S. Internet.

Fifth, an independence petition with twenty grievances empowers citizens with a peaceable and civil voice individually and together to publicly declare their desire to live free and independent from unchecked technological tyranny.

Sixth, America’s online anarchy policy subverts most everything good offline in America and Americans.  We need freedom and independence from self-defeating Internet policy that nonsensically makes America its own worst enemy.

Finally, seldom does the future of our country pivot on one policy.  However, here it does.

Current Internet policy sets the default authority for much of America as ungoverned, unaccountable rule-of-code.  If modernized and rationalized, future Internet policy would reset the default authority as Constitution limited-government and rule-of-law.

Where Internet policy goes, so goes America’s future.  Do Americans want the 21stCentury to empower technology to control and govern people, or to empower people to control and govern technology?

Restore Us Institute’s national petition of a Declaration of Independence from Unchecked Technological Tyranny, offers a time-tested solution of restoring Constitutional authority over the U.S Internet that can bring more hope and confidence in our futures.

Most Americans and their government know the Internet is rife with out-of-control problems.  However, what they don’t know is their universal cause is U.S. Internet unaccountability policies that enable the worst in us, government, and America.

Not knowing the cause of the problem blinds Americans and their government from seeing the opportunity of a universal solution and cure for the chaos the government is causing itself.

The solution and cure is the Government doing its sworn duty “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” in restoring full Constitutional authority over the U.S. Internet in U.S. policy.

Same rules and rights offline-online. Equal protection under the law. Illegal offline illegal online.

Scott Cleland is Executive Director of the Restore Us Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit that educates the public about Internet accountability problems and solutions.  Cleland was Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communication and Information Policy in the H.W. Bush Administration.  To learn more, visitwww.RestoreUsInstitute.org

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