After playing a critical role in the downfall of anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA, social network Reddit has started a campaign to write its own, alternative law: the Free Internet Act, or FIA.
The proposed legislation, which has been crowdsourced by members of the /r/fia subreddit, aims to “promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation” online, while preventing censorship and allowing users to browse freely without accidentally breaking the law.
The site has published its first draft of the act on Google Docs. The nine-article document is a little less hefty than your typical congressional bill, but the breezy 15-page bill covers censorship, culpability, content removal, judicial proceedings and appropriate punishments.
The Reddit clan dictates that “Federal or State Governments will not impose or administer any kind of censorship on the Internet,” outside of child pornography and financial scams. In those cases, censorship will have to be made after the fact, as it would be illegal to monitor data as its uploaded.
Under culpability, Reddit reckons that only the creator or uploader of data is responsible for whether that data is legal to upload, which would protect those who download from any legal liability. If content is removed, the uploader must be notified.
The laws aren’t just for the United States, either. It’s also proposed as an international treaty, and says that “no federal union or sovereign state may pass unilateral restrictions on the internet,” and bars extradition for web-related crimes.
Reddit has set its ambitions high. It is aiming to hit the European citizens’ initiative — an upcoming project from the European Commission that allows citizens to call on the EU to make a legislative proposal.
User-made legislation will be voted on (a little like a Reddit link submission, actually), and if the organisers can collect a million signatures in a year, the Commission will meet with the organisers and may propose their legislation to EU member states.
Submissions open on 1 April 2012, so the social site has just over a month to iron out the kinks, consult “law experts” and put out a final document.
Crowdsourcing legal documentation is not entirely new. Last Summer, Iceland called upon its citizens to submit ideas for the country’s new constitution. In August 2011, councillors from Iceland turned in the first draft of the crowd-sourced constitution, using hundreds of contributions from the internet.