A Universal Declaration of Users’ Rights

We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10. I’m a big supporter of this, and of Amnesty International, which works to protect these rights. Which got me to thinking: why isn’t there a list of users’ rights anywhere? What is the baseline that all users of every product everywhere should expect? So using the UDHR as a starting point, I drew one up.

Article 1.
Everyone has the right to products that will not deliberately harm their person, reputation, or data.

Article 2.
Everyone has the right to own the data they generate, and use it as they wish.

Article 3.
No one shall acquire or use another person’s data without their consent.

Article 4.
Actions taken without the user’s express consent should only be actions that do not affect the user directly, or only to prevent injury, death, or loss of data.

Article 5.
No one should be subjected to cruel, inhumane, inappropriately complex, undignified, or degrading products.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to legal recourse should a product cause an injury to their person or data.

Article 7.
Everyone has the right to switch to another product and to take their data with them to the new product.

Article 8.
Everyone has access to help and support for a product.

Article 9.
(1) All users are considered innocent of misuse of a product until proven otherwise.
(2) Product designers, engineers, and manufacturers are held responsible for ensuring their products do not violate any of the articles above.

Article 10.
No product designer, engineer, or manufacturer shall attempt to deny or restrict any of the rights set forth herein, either through legal or political means, or via the creation of products.

Note: what was really interesting here as I was drawing these up is how much a part of our identity and person-hood is now tied up in our data. To do damage to someone’s data (personal, financial, etc.) is to inflict harm on them. Granted, psychic and emotional harm, but harm nonetheless.