Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self
A Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self
July 4, 2018
The second age of the digital-era is upon us. With it comes the emergence of the Digital-Self. Our Digital-Selves are the sum total of all the digital data produced about each of us through the course of our lives. The Declaration declares as a fundamental and inalienable human right the right to own, control and benefit from our Digital-Self. Each person on earth has the right to:
Article 1. Participate in the digital world
Article 2. Understand and manage the Digital-Self in all its forms
Article 3. Own all products of the Digital-Self
Article 4. Benefit from the Digital-Self
Article 5. Own intellectual property derived from interactions with the Digital-Self
Article 6. Employ the Digital-Self to attain and maintain human dignity
Article 7. Privacy and security of the Digital-Self
Article 8. Know how, when and where the Digital-Self is used
Article 9. Make money (capture rents) from the Digital-Self
Article 10. Understand the entire chain of use of the Digital-Self across the world
Article 11. Own and control memories associated with the Digital-Self
Article 12. Contract with third parties to manage the Digital-Self
Article 13. Share or not share the Digital-Self
Article 14. Legal and technical protections that secure the above rights
Article. 15. Access the Digital-self in all available forms and representations
This Declaration may be amended, from time to time, through an open governance process. Amended versions will be added as attachments to the original Declaration.
Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self
July 4, 2018
A new age of the digital era is upon us. With it comes the emergence of the digital-self. The digital-self is formed upon the first transaction, registration or storage of digital data related to the person, whether prior to birth, during the person’s life, or after physical life in manifold and diverse ways. We assert that the rights and relationships between the person and their digital-self must support the person’s dignity and wellbeing as a human being. We are mindful today of the original Declaration of Independence of the United States when we herein assert that in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to identify inalienable and essential individual human rights with regard to the person and their digital-self.
We assert that the rights and relationships between the person and their digital-self must support their dignity and wellbeing as a human being. We further assert that a person’s right to fully realize their capacity to pursue life, liberty and happiness now and in the future rests on an efficacious confluence of the physical and digital worlds and the confluence of the human person and their digital-self.
Let us establish here that for too long and notwithstanding continued development of information, communication and digital technologies, that the rights of the person (i.e., an individual human being or their duly authorized representative) with respect to their inalienable rights to their digital-self, have been abridged, limited, and appropriated with insufficient transparency, permission and consent.
We further express that whether such actual acquisition of a person’s digital-self or parts of that digital-self by third parties may have been intentional or unintentional, the reality has been to sever the rights of the person from their digital-self. In effect, we have a condition of “personalization without representation.”
We therefore state that the current condition of the commercial and civil rights of the person concerning their digital-self and the use of personal data can no longer be tolerated. We assert that each person has the right to declare their digital independence from any and all third parties that currently or may in the future have control or custody of their digital-self and any elements of their digital-self and to reclaim and to secure those rights over the digital-self.
Today we are duty bound and must therefore declare the inalienable rights of all persons with respect to their digital-self, and that these include the right to seek any and all digital bits, data, constructions and expressions that exist about the digital-self, to claim ownership and control of the digital-self and are entitled to copies of any elements of the digital-self in any available format at no cost, and have the right to withdraw all prior permissions and consent implied or otherwise stated with regard to their digital-self, going forward.
In the 21st Century, humans naturally, by reason of being alive and living their life, generate a prodigious stream of digital data about themselves and about their life and the life of others with whom they associate. When a person uses a digital device, or interacts with any digital system, they have an intrinsic and inalienable right to exclusively own, sense, capture, collect, store, organize, understand, manage, edit, process, utilize, apply, review, redact, transform, offer, and benefit from all and any data, data streams, simulations, genomic data, microbiomic data, or other digital data derived from physical aspects of the person and converted into digital form. We assert that the person’s ownership rights extend to the entirety of the digital-self, any related data and the use of the data anywhere.
In the digital era, there is an essential mutuality and permanence to the association, representation, and expression of the physical self and the existence of the digital-self. To allow a divorce between the physical self and the digital-self is to sever two essential components of the person as they live and navigate synchronously or asynchronously within and among the physical and digital worlds.
Therefore, when we speak of a Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self we are speaking about the inalienable right of a person to integrate, own, control, maintain, re-share, track, audit and manage the coexistent elements of their physical and digital-self.
It also is the right of a person to search for and to reconstitute or to aggregate their known or their forgotten or lost or unknown representations and elements that constitute their digital-self and all such digital representations and expressions of their digital-self that may have be made by the person or other parties known or unknown to them.
Therefore, first and foremost, A Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self establishes that the person has full rights to their digital-self and that those rights are inalienable due by reason and fact that the person exists and lives in the physical world.
The full spectrum of rights includes but are not limited to ownership and property rights of their digital-self, but also the non-severability of those rights and obligations. The person therefore has the right to the exclusive and complete control of the disposition of their digital-self, including all facets of the digital elements that constitute the digital-self and are in any way associated or may be found to be elements of the digital-self.
Similarly, we further define the disposition of the digital-self as the right of the person to change and destroy one, many or all components of their digital-self unless forbidden by law or valid legal contract.
A Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self is a Necessary Condition for Life in the Digital Era and Beyond
A Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self rests on a foundation of voluntary individual permission and consent when they temporarily or permanently assign the use and management of the digital-self and elements of their digital-self to other parties but only under the condition that permission and consent in no way infringes upon or compromises current or future rights or plans regarding their digital-self.
Permission and consent are therefore stipulated as essential and inalienable rights in the management and use of the digital-self and its products.
Permission and consent presume ownership and control of the digital-self. Ownership and control presumes the individual’s right to fully understand the actual composition of the digital-self and the ability to affect and to manage the digital-self. Given the current state of affairs with regard to the digital-self, it may require significant work to understand the current condition of a person’s digital-self. Such work may require research, efforts to constitute or reconstitute the digital-self, and to aggregate elements of the digital-self from many parties who have an understanding of a person’s digital-self that the person may not have.
Furthermore, this declaration also defines the notion of a person’s digital potential, some of which may already be known to some degree by the person and to some degree by others, to be discovered over time. Notwithstanding such facts with regard to the digital-self, the person must have and indeed has the self-evident right to pursue, discover and realize the full potential of their digital-self. It also follows that persons who may have legal custody of another, such as is the case of children, minors, or other situations, have the right and responsibility to assist others in managing and helping realize the digital potential of the other’s digital-self.
The Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self also establishes a necessary condition for a person to have the freedom to participate and benefit fully from the constellation and interactions of the physical and digital worlds.
The Intrinsic Relationship and Association between the Person and the Digital-Self
Since the digital-self is a digital representation, expression and extension of the physical self which exists at a point in time, and which has the potential to grow and change over the lifetime of the person and which may live on in perpetuity beyond physical death, therefore, the declaration herein also states that it does harm and is a wrongful act for any party, other than the person, to act by any means or in any way to divorce, disassociate, alienate, or divide the person from their digital-self. Furthermore, it is envisioned that as technologies advance, the relationship and association between the person and the digital-self may become more tightly coupled and therefore this “union” must be protected.
The declaration furthermore considers that the digital-self is an artifact of the person that may operate as an extension of the person’s physical self, operating on behalf of the physical self through physical prosthetics, robotics, smart-machines like cars and homes, artificial intelligences (A.I.) embedded in physical devices, and so on. It considers that these physical extensions of the self may constitute additional elements of the digital-self, generated before, during and after a person's life, and that the sum of those artifacts that are generated by the person and that operate and are chronicled automatically in the digital world and physical worlds are the property of that person and thus accorded all of the property rights and liabilities unless contraindicated or limited elsewhere by contract or law.
It is self-evident that all humans have the right to participate and benefit from the digital world. We believe that the digital world manifests significant import in human life and is inexorably connected to the reality of human life in the physical world. As a result, it is therefore self-evident that the symmetry and asymmetry between the digital world and physical worlds accords humans manifold inalienable rights that must be called out, preserved and protected.
The digital-self is a representation of a person that exists and lives in the physical world. The digital-self is an artifact of the person that forms and develops as a consequence of living, moving, breathing in the constellation and interactions of the physical and digital worlds. The digital-self is an evolving and continuously updated expression of the physical self in the physical world through digital bits and all other digital forms, structured or unstructured, static or animated. The digital-self is defined as the representation, expressions, artifacts, data, digital trails and digital crumbs left by and associated with the digital-self, and derivations of the digital-self as directly established by the person or generated through the various intermediations of the digital-self through the creation, use or consumption of digital products or services by the person or representatives of the person, physical or digital (e.g., Apps, programs, bots, VR, AI’s).
Every human being has the right to own, control, understand, manage, employ and preserve the products of their individual identity, representation, expressions enhancements, or actions of their digital-self for their personal benefit and the benefits of their loved ones or to whomever they wish to assign those benefits.
The person derives benefits from the existence of the digital-self. The benefits associated with the digital-self, the right to develop, and the data compiled through the development process over the course of a lifetime are the person’s property. To enable this right, an individual shall be entitled to a copy of any and all digital data representing their digital-self, from any entity holding that digital data in any available and readily producible format, at no cost either to the individual or to their designated digital-self services provider.
All developments, innovations, inventions and intellectual property formed through interactions between the person and their digital-self are their property and shall be incorporated into the digital-self. The person has the right to assign the rights to these developments before, during and after their death and to assign the benefits of their digital-self to others whom they choose. The person also has the right to contract for services and other products to aid, assist, and enhance the digital-self and to compensate others who provide such services and products in the marketplace. However, such contracts have no right to abrogate, limit, deprecate, demote, sever, or subjugate the person’s rights regarding the digital-self unless specifically stipulated and freely agreed to by a lawful contract.
The person has the right to employ their digital-self to attain and maintain human dignity and to improve their wellbeing in their physical and digital life. Furthermore, no party, agent or institution may impersonate, alter, diminish, abridge, or limit their human dignity, wellbeing or rights through the use or misuse of a person’s digital-self. The person has the right to seek any and all remedies for any such violation of their digital-self by others.
The person has the right to secure and maintain the personal privacy and security of their digital-self.
The person has the right to know how, when and where the digital-self is accessed, used and re-shared by others, including right to have immutable audit trails and legally valid records that can be used in a court of law to hold individuals and organizations who misuse the digital-self accountable.
The person has the right to the data, information, knowledge, and all other elements associated with the digital-self that may have value to other parties. As a consequence, the person may choose to capture rents from the use of the data associated with the digital-self through economic and marketplace mechanisms for their personal benefit to others who the individual chooses to designate.
With regard to economic or commercial transactions regarding the digital-self or its elements, the person has the right to understand the entire chain of use of the digital-self and its elements since digital data and its related elements are not subject to conservation as they are used and passed on to other parties in the chain of use and transformation, as are physical assets in the physical world. As a result, it follows that the “full chain of use” must be protected and known to the person and their heirs in perpetuity.
The person has the sole and exclusive right to all memories manually and automatically recorded by any means digital or otherwise that are coded into and associated with their digital-self and the benefits that are derived in any way from the digital-self.
The person has the sole and exclusive right to engage in contracts with other parties to assist with, find, collect, aggregate, and manage their digital-self and related data for their benefit without limiting their rights in any manner.
The person has the sole and exclusive right to share or not share their digital-self with others.
Parties other than the person cannot, through inaction or action, or by deception or subterfuge, or by actual or implied omission, by any means and in any way, obstruct, separate, disassociate, disconnect, alienate, or divide the person from their digital-self.
The person has the sole and exclusive right to any possible formats and representations, current and not currently known or anticipated that may represent the digital-self now and in the future.
This Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self, declared on this 4th of July, 2018, is constituted and intended to be a living document that can be amended according to appropriate rules of order based on the principle of representative governance accorded to each individual and their digital-self.
All amendments shall be made to new versions of this declaration and attached to this original version of The Declaration of Independence for the Digital-Self.
We issue a call to all persons to support this declaration as a representation of their support for a world where every person owns, controls and benefits from their digital-self.
Signed on July 4, 2018
- Nicholas Vitalari
- Judah Thornewill
- Thomas Walton
- Ty Faulkner
- Robert Esterhay
- William Yasnoff
- Mary Beth Allen
- Michael Mills
- Mark Dingle
- Mary Morrow