Digital experts are calling for taking control away from excessively powerful Internet companies and placing it in the hands of the users themselves. A “Manifesto for self-empowerment” has been presented by the politicians Dr. Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), Anke Domscheit-Berg (Left), Saskia Esken (SPD) as well as representatives of civil society such as Peter Schaar and Marina Weisband.
“Trustworthy alternatives to surveillance capitalism have long existed. But to help them achieve a breakthrough, the dominant players like Facebook must be forced to open their platforms.“
demands co-signatory Patrick Breyer.
“This is the only way users can communicate across platforms and stay in touch with their contacts even after switching platforms”.
Full text of the Manifesto:
Let’s reclaim the web!
A manifesto for self-empowerment of Internet users
The Internet in 2019
The Internet has become a virtual home for many people. They maintain friendships and contacts online, they seek and give advice, discuss art, culture and personal matters, share photos, work together, shop, play games, date. In short: they communicate.
However, only a few commercial platforms are attracting more and more users. Thereby they obtain a monopoly and a worrysome amount of power by collecting and commercialising personal data. That is their business. Users, however, have the choice of either entrusting their data to the operators or being excluded from the platforms and thus from a significant part of their social environment.
The accumulated knowledge of the platform operators is power, given by the users. This knowledge enables the operators to manipulate people in a targeted manner far beyond the Internet, whether to induce them to buy products or to influence their behaviour in the political arena. This instrument of power is not only available to the operators themselves, but also to anyone who pays for it or, like government agencies, can exert pressure on the operators.
Even with open-minded operators the board of directors can be changed, companies can be sold, guidelines and the legal framework can be changed. This is why centralised platforms are fundamentally untrustworthy. You can only have confidence in technically safeguarded data protection.
The vision: The Internet of the future
The Internet is already decentralised and cooperative, resistant to centralism, coercion and censorship. Everyone can create their own web presence and be the free and self-determined master of their data.
The free and democratic Internet of the future, however, will also comprise technology suitable for everyday use, with the confidentiality of communication in the sense of Privacy by Design being technically safeguarded as a matter of course. Future internet users are aware of the value of personal data and handle it with care. In this way, they protect themselves and their fellow human beings from current and future dangers. Because they know that data that seems harmless today can be highly problematic tomorrow.
We, the signatories of this manifesto, firmly believe that the Internet can and shall be owned by the users. This requires trustworthy communication technology that:
- definitely guarantees the privacy and rights of users by technical means.
- does not compromise on performance and user functionality.
- is developed under an established Free and Open Source licence.
- is decentralised, collective and operated exclusively by the users themselves.
- guarantees secure data protection for content and metadata.
- is very easy to install and operate.
- enables interoperability with other platforms and moving profiles quickly, easily and convincingly.
We call on all Internet users to organize themselves with the aim of establishing trustworthy communications technologies and to use them widely!
We call on all software developers to make trustworthy communications technology available!
We call on all decision makers to promote trustworthy communications technology!
We call on all teachers and artists to raise awareness regarding the processing of personal data!
Let us take our destiny into our own hands!
- Jorgo Ananiadis (Politician and digital activist)
- Kai Bösefeldt (Software developer, initiator of the Straightway project)
- Dr Patrick Breyer (Member of the European Parliament)
- Anke Domscheit-Berg (Member of the German Bundestag)
- Saskia Esken (Member of the German Bundestag)
- Adrienne Fichter (Journalist)
- lic. iur. Viktor Györffy (Lawyer)
- Michael Hausding (Board of Directors Internet Society Switzerland)
- Dr. Andrea Herrmann (substitute professor at the FH Dortmund; Herrmann & Ehrlich)
- Hernâni Marques (Board of Trustees p≡p foundation)
- Pirate Party CH
- Peter Schaar (Chairman of the European Academy for Freedom of Information and Data Protection (EAID), Berlin; former Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (2003-2013))
- Marina Weisband (Publicist, artist)
- Peter Welchering (Journalist)