A Declaration of Digital Independence
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with their National Governments, and assume an alternative station to which the Principles of Reason and Conscience apply, a decent respect to the opinions of peers, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the formation of alternative.
We hold these truths to be necessary and true, that every individual begins as a peer of every other with full dignity, agency and self-sovereign control over their physical and digital identities; That the secure use, and sharing of data is as vital a common resource as air, water, food, fisheries, and as such, their open and secure use is a global common right where all are peers and no one peer can assert control over the other to their detriment. The sacred duty of all governments is to encourage and secure technological and societal means that sustain a free and vibrant global commons to the benefit of all forms of persons and life.
All people have an inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, whose facilitation, protection, and realization is the natural duty of all governments. Through the fair and effective exercise of laws and policies, and through the open enjoyment of order, shelter, expression, learning, health, transport, and other means of individual and group advancement, governments are held in account to their citizens. From this they derive their sole legitimate claim to the exercise of their powers. Their failure to do so in an effective, open, and equitable manner abrogates any and all legal or moral claims of legitimacy. Those governments that govern wisely are those that provide the most for all their citizens with the least exercise of power and concentration of resources. The duty of a government is not to sustain nor perpetuate itself, but to so empower all citizens that government itself becomes the invisible governance of all citizens by and for themselves. To this end, all citizens are deemed equals both in their claim to basic rights and in their duties to one another to express, protect and enforce those rights.
While all citizens begin with Equal Standing as peers in a data and resource commons, in the course of time, effort, and circumstances, individuals naturally differ and distinguish themselves to attain different kinds of standing. By different experiences, circumstances, skills, and knowledge, citizens attain different kinds of standing essential to the fair and effective conduct of the commons and society as a whole. The just and sound governance of a commons and a society requires citizens with the proper type and level of standing being engaged in the appropriate governance and democratic roles.
A natural tension arises between citizen as a holder of rights, and citizen as the steward for achieving and enforcing those rights, and it is the role of government to provide the means and mechanisms to resolve such tensions openly with critical reason, evidence, and empathy. Through continuous and open experimentation in governance methods and practices guided by Critical Scientific Methods and Evidence, can more resilient and effective self-governance be achieved.
The Indictment of the Nation State
Should at any time, a government routinely fail to protect and serve human rights, and becomes captive to its own interests, as in the case of certain Nation States, then their laws are no longer deemed binding and cease to compel obedience. It thereby is the Right of a People to pursue alternative forms of self governance and laws outside the confines of the such failed laws and to institute new means of governance, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Nation States long established should not be changed for light and transient reasons; and accordingly, all experience has shown, that humanity is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses, failures, and usurpations, become threatening to the very survival of our species and life on earth as a whole, then folly resides in the blind continuance of such paths, not in the critical pursuit of alternatives.
Today many Nation States are captive to ritualized and self-serving governmental practices that bear only the façade of functioning democracies. They have failed in their claim to legitimate sovereignty, as they have fundamentally breached their Social Contract with their citizens and have governed to their own ends, perpetuating their own special privileges through laws, regulations and elections so to render themselves impervious to change or account. A privileged few have so controlled and corrupted the methods and means of electoral and legislative process, that “governments have lost any claim of legitimacy as bone fide democratic institutions. The agency of their citizenry has been relegated to that of coerced signatories to contracts of invisible vassalage
A Bill of Rights and Duties
for Networked Sovereignty and Independence
This Declaration of Independence is not meant as a statement of succession, but as a reassertion of the basic rights and powers of independent self-sovereign assemblies of citizens and their regional and city governments to their natural sovereign right of self-governance and freedom from the overreach of discredited and dysfunctional National Governments. Through the guarantees of contract law and the basic Constitutional Rights of independent states, networked governments will subsume those governmental powers necessary to serve the domestic needs of their citizenry. As networks of peers, citizens have both rights and duties; one is insufficient without the other, and it is the role of the networked governments to provide the open and trusted means by which their citizens can freely and effectively exercise their basic rights and duties. Digital technologies provide unprecedented means and opportunities to deploy mechanisms that are transparent and enforceable to their original intent.
The Digital Ecosystem and Stateless Sovereignty
The pervasive virtualization of human activities and the potential for cryptographic and algorithmic technologies to provide trustable and tamper proof authorities requires a fundamental reexamination and redefinition of traditional notions of Sovereignty.
With comprehensive global digitization, the duties of a sovereign power to its citizens potentially extends well beyond its physical borders to include the virtual boundaries of digital networks, their devices and their members, whose identities, sensitive data and actions must be duly secured and protected from unwanted intrusion and exploitation. This pervasive digitization, however, poses a fundamental challenge to the very notion of Nation States as effective sovereigns in the digital sphere. Nation States are 17th century artifacts of the physical world and as such, were conceived to embody and exert physical means of governance and enforcement. Sovereignty is physically embodied in the State institutions of a legislature, a court, military, and executive branch and in the physical persons of elected officials and appointed civil servants. The digital sphere is non-material and as such, enjoys certain profound and unprecedented advantages in being non-material by providing virtually costless forms of collective action, connectedness, coordination, authentication, and learning and evolution. Furthermore, as every element in the digital sphere is a created and controllable artifact, their provenance can be potentially known or anonymized - depending upon how they are to be governed. In short, digitization presents an unprecedented opportunities and challenges for foundational innovations in governance. On the one hand, there is the potential for a digital extension of a Hobbesian “state of nature”, and the surveillance power of “Leviathan” or a “Panopticon”, or on the other, a new notion of sovereignty, that embraces the potential for an immaterial “state less “ sovereignty that is based upon open and testable protocols and mechanism that can not only assert basic freedoms but provide the means and mechanisms to achieve and enforce them in a provable and public manner.
Nowhere is this challenge to contemporary notion of sovereignty and governance than how industrial democracies define economic and political roles. There is a divisive dualism in industrial democracy and capitalism that separates people into property holders/wage laborers, and office holders/voters. In both cases, over time, the property holder and the office holder are able to build equity in their positions thereby removing them from the accountability of the market and the ballot box. In both cases, the “signals “of price and the “signals” of the ballot, become distorted and manipulated to serve incumbent interests, thereby resulting in concentrations of wealth and power. The current economic and governance failures of industrial capitalism are an inevitable part of the life cycle of pre-industrial and industrial democratic institutions. The concentration of political and economic equity will only be accentuated through the pervasive cognitive and physical automation in all sectors of the global economy, rendering the languishing social contract of industrial capitalism for employment as obsolete, inadequate and ineffective.
In order to avoid such concentration of power in either in markets or governance, it is crucial that sovereignty reside with the citizen and not be delegated to some physical institution or official. This is impossible to achieve through physical governance, as the individual or the human staffed institution becomes the embodiment of the sovereign power and accordingly can subvert it over time to his or her own end. This is the classic “principal-agent” problem where an individual in their role as an agent subverts that role to act on his own behalf rather than that of the principle he is representing. It is also important to note in this case where all are peers that the individual acting as agent as duties, and as a principle has rights. The same person or entity has both roles in different contexts and therefore there is no dualism of roles and hence, incentives to concentrate powers.
In a fully digitized world the roles of agents and principles can be expressed and verified as algorithms that are specified and tested by open protocols. Hence, sovereignty in this case becomes dematerialized and formalized so that it is testable, public, and not captive to special interest or physical institution. It is crucial, therefore, to 21st century networked democracies that the locus of sovereignty reside with every individual - peer node and the plethora of tools for available for governance, encryption, zero knowledge proofs, multi-party computation, blockchains, crypto-currencies, smart contracts, decentralized autonomous authorities, etc.) themselves be decentralized and openly auditable.
Framing of roles gives unnecessary powers to the state as the grantor and protector of rights and entitlements through the delegation of duties to officials undermines the agency and responsibilities of the citizen. It also creates perverse incentives for those in elected office to subvert their accountability to the electorate and to use their office to further their own interests and those of their cohorts. Over time it results in the disenfranchisement of the voter as the officer holder is able to build political equity in their office and Similar dynamics are inherent in markets where price is the sole determinant of value individuals are. There are negative freedoms in the sense of freedoms from abuses of power from the State, prejudice, majority bias, and there are positive freedoms, freedom of assembly and to express and to advance oneself. Both these rights, however, are reciprocal in that they depend upon citizens performing certain duties, achieving a certain standing in the society. Citizens cannot simply be consumers of “governmental services”, entitled recipients without reciprocal responsibilities. The right to receive entail the right to give back and unless
Digital Rights and Duties of Networked States
- Freedom from Surveillance and Freedom of Digital Agency, Privacy, and Security. All citizens should be free from unwanted surveillance and use of their data without their full consent and understanding. All citizens should have inalienable control of all digital manifestations of themselves that cannot be relinquished to their detriment. It is the duty of government to protect and secure these rights and it is the duty of citizens to provide non-identifying data with governments to enable the conduct of fair and effective governance. Only with proof of verifiable, probable cause, itself auditable and independently accountable, should Governments have a limited right of access to personal data and identities for significant enforcement purposes.
- Freedom of Assembly, Collective Action, and Expression: Every citizen is given the capacity for freedom of assembly and collective action through guarantees of security, privacy and open access to the discovery of others. Every citizen has the right to recruit and form their own group network to undertake any form of lawful collective action. Every individual has the right of free expression in physical and digital form and the duty to refrain from hateful, false and deceitful speech to the detriment of others.
- Freedom of Movement and Shelter: Data are available to help provide timely, sustainable, and affordable transportation to all citizens and transportation services. A since the cost, character and availability of housing is related to transportation and mobility, these freedoms are interdependent since location is both physical and virtual and access to data enables dynamic allocation of transportation and housing resources.
- Freedom of Authority to Issue Tokens for Trusted Credentials: Any individual can issue a trusted credential token which can be verified though data provided by and vouched for an independent authority which can be a public or private entity.
- Freedom to Issue and Exchange Tokens for Value Creation: Individuals and private and public entities can fund endeavors through the issuance of digital tokens of value that can be convertible into fiat currencies in the amounts determined by individuals and governance authorities. Tokens can also be issued to individuals in exchange for work or services and such tokens can be exchanged for other services or fiat currencies.
- Freedom and Duty to Acquire Standing For Democratic Participation: Data are available to independently, securely, and transparently measure an individual’s contribution, condition and behavior relevant to their participation in democratic decision -making, governance, and oversight.
- Duty of Use of Tokens for Ecological Resilience and Diversity: It is the duty of all citizens to protect and enhance the integrity and diversity of the natural commons of air, water, flora, fauna, and micro-organisms. Governments and individuals shall issue tokens of value in exchange for actions that benefit the natural commons and the planetary environment.
- Duty and Right to Exchange Trusted Data for Shelter, Wellness and Learning: Trusted and secure data are available to and from all citizens to provide and support tailored shelter, health, and learning services that are affordable and accessible to all.
- Duty and Right of Trusted Speech and Media Accountable To Proof Standing and Independence: Every citizen has the right of access to trusted media that that are independently verified and accountable to proof of standing, and every citizen has the duty to refrain from speech that is neither hateful, deceitful nor intimidating. All originators and aggregators of media and speech be are accountable to standards of standing and trust.
- Right and Duty of Affordable, Effective and Accountable Legal Services: Every citizen has the right to effective, and accountable, legal, judicial and arbitration services and it is the duty of the government to provide such services to all citizens at minimum cost and in a timely manner. It is the duty of all citizens and parties to engage such services with economy and restraint and whenever feasible to minimize transaction costs and maximize fairness, transparency and accountability.