… Public debate and innovation

Democratic societies have always built and defended tools for contestation: freedom of speech, media support, protection of the press and its sources, the right to legal defence, the right to strike… Networks expand the space for expression; other trends could restrict it. A demand for security is only natural, but it can lead to the “soft” dictatorship of the “silent majority”. This is why it is time for democracies, at home and abroad, to reach out and actively defend a space for debate, minority expression, and counter-powers.

Innovation has become a central value, largely because it is the condition of sustainable economic competition in today’s capitalist society. But this is changing, because the very plasticity of the digital makes it a real platform, and because a growing number of individuals – consumactors, pro-ams, hackers, etc. – are part of this innovating process. Consequently, shared innovation is becoming one of the most important raw materials that individuals and societies alike could use to catch a grip on their futures. Innovation perturbs, it forces people to think differently, and in its shared and open form, it could also become a democratic value to be promoted.

Extend the «constitutional block» to digital networks

Whether or not they appear in the constitution of any given country, a certain number of freedoms – freedom of expression, freedom to publicly assemble, freedom of the press, the right to strike – have acquired constitutional status. Digital networks, because of their recent emergence, are yet to be covered. Since, however, they can be both new means of expression and the tools of a future Big Brother, is important that they are situated within the “constitutional block”. The following, for example, could be guaranteed and/or prohibited:

  • The neutrality of public-access networks: the networks themselves should not control a priori the kinds of expression and information that may or may not circulate within them.
  • The opening of public networks: everyone has the same right to connect to them; all public networks can be connected with others
  • Personal and collective expression via networks, within the same limits as the press.