When the Mozilla Manifesto was drafted five years ago to better define the principles of our project, we started by noting that the Internet “is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives.” Fast-forward to today and the Internet seems more ingrained in our lives than ever. As we look ahead to where the Web is going, and consider all the challenges that could arise, now is a good time to reexamine the Manifesto’s applications both inside and outside the organization to ensure it stands the test of time.
In a series of ten blog posts, we’re going to look at each of the Manifesto’s ten principles individually. Our goal is to create an open dialog with our community to explore what the Manifesto means to each of us. In combination with the online discussion through our Community blog, we will host in-person sessions at the MozCamps and MozFestival this fall. We want to ensure the Manifesto reflects our community’s values and can inform our stance on policy issues that may determine the future of the Internet globally.
The Internet’s role in society
The first principle in the Manifesto states, “The Internet is an integral part of modern life–a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole.”
Let’s kick off the discussion with what we believe to be an important debate: if the Internet is a key component in society as a whole, is there a natural tension between the importance of public benefit (i.e., the Internet as a public resource for society) and Mozilla’s philosophy of individual sovereignty?
Individual sovereignty has benefits because the principle is globally extensible while remaining consistent. However, ways of interpreting public benefit or a view of the Internet as a public utility will be approached quite differently around the world. For example, a country may make rules that limit individual sovereignty on the Internet and justify it by saying that they provide the greatest collective public benefit. Indeed, public resources by their very nature are regulated and controlled by government decision makers.
Can we find a way for the two concepts to live side by side? Do we want to?
Will it be Mozilla’s role in 2013 and beyond to define the greater good of the Internet for society or to be the champion of individual users’ destinies?
Please share your feedback in the comments section and keep coming back to continue the discussion with us (we’ll be tagging each post in the “Manifesto” category).