Political and Ethical guidelines for an Alternative Internet

Deliverable Status: 
Deliverable Number: 
Deliverable Due Month: 
Deliverable WP Number: 
Deliverable File: 
Executive Summary: 
This deliverable puts forward political economy and policy guidelines, which can contribute to fostering an alternative Internet that is more participatory, co-operative and community-oriented. The two sets of guidelines build on ethics discussed in Chapter 2, and on netCommons D5.4, D4.1, D4.2, and D4.3. netCommons implicitly assumes that it is good to advance and supply network commons. Two questions derive: 1) How can network commons and digital commons be ethically justified? 2) Why is it morally good to advance the commons and digital commons? The answer to these questions lies within the domain of computer ethics, as Chapter 2 explains. Computer ethics discusses moral questions that concern computer technology and tries to formulate principles that can be used for reflecting on how digital resources (infrastructures, software and content) should, or should not, be used. Community networks supply access to communication and computing infrastructure as a common good. They are thus classifiable in a generic way as a digital common, although they differ substantially from traditional digital commons in that they are considered infrastructures that not only create and store, but also process, handle, and transmit information. The commons and the digital commons are applications of the notion of the “common good". In ethics, this notion has been especially discussed in virtue ethics, an approach that goes back to Aristotle. For Aristotle, the common good has to do with sharing. Alasdair MacIntyre, the most well-known contemporary Aristotelian philosopher, relates Aristotle’s notion of the common good to the notion of communication. The means of communication (including computers and computer networks) mediate human communication. How they are organised and governed is an important moral question for contemporary information societies. In network commons, the ownership, control and decision-making of digital networks are shared in a community. Furthermore, the community shares the common moral value that network commons are an important way of organis- ing digital infrastructures. Thus the network commons are an expression of moral virtues such as benevolence, generosity, altruism, sociability, camaraderie, friendship, and co-operation. Commons-based peer production, such as setting up and participating in community computer networks, is a way of advancing a good society by fostering Aristotelian virtues.