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Suggestions for National Constitutions

by Richard Stallman

Version of 7 July 2013

Aside from the specific articles below, I think that laws should require approval by a vote of the legislature and a direct vote of the people. The use of direct democracy as a part of the process seems to have protected the people well in Switzerland and Iceland.

Human rights

Human rights apply to all physical persons under the state's power or jurisdiction. They do not apply to legal creations such as corporations, which have whatever rights are granted to them by legislation.

Sovereignty

No treaty or international agreement may infringe the state's power to regulate the kinds of goods and services that may be offered for sale under its jurisdiction, or the allowable ways of producing them (regardless of where production is done); or to make such regulations consistent with human rights as are needed to protect society's public health, the country's financial health, its general standard of living, the environment, sustainability of economic activity, workers' rights, or human rights.

The state's exercise of the above power does not incur compensation to any party except as required by the state's own legislation.

Democracy

Aside from individuals spending small amounts, private spending to influence elections may be limited by legislation and the spenders may be required by legislation to identify themselves.

Closing the Revolving Door

The participation of former state officials in commercial activities that aim at influencing government, or were regulated by them in their official capacity, may be limited by legislation for up to 10 years.

Privatization

No state activity may be privatized unless the resulting private entity will sell its products or services in a competitive market that consisting mostly of private buyers.

If a former state activity was previously privatized in a way that contradicts this rule, the state can renationalize it paying, as compensation, the amount that the state received for it when it was privatized, minus the profit gained during the privatized entity's existence by that entity, and through that entity by related entities.

Right of reverse engineering

The right of an individual to study the functioning of any technological product that she owns or rents, and to publish what she learns about it, shall not be limited by any law, or by any contract agreed without individual negotiation.

Copyright and patent power can be decreased, not just increased

Copyrights and patents are temporary privileges created as artificial incentives, meant to achieve a balance between two public goals: the publication of new works and ideas, and the freedom to use existing published works and known ideas.

The state may through legislation increase or decrease the extent of existing copyright and patent privileges, or future ones. Decreasing a privilege does not entitle the holders of the privilege to compensation.

Freedom from computerized surveillance

The right of privacy from technological surveillance shall not be infringed without justification. Therefore, no party, whether public or private, may use information technology to systematically and automatically store beyond a short time any information about individuals or their activities, except when inherently necessary for dealings entered into by those individuals, for determining the taxes they owe, for enforcing regulations on their business activities, or pursuant to a court order detailing the persons to be surveilled and the information to be stored.

Freedom of recording

Persons' rights to openly carry out occasional photography and/or recording in places open at that time to the public, and to publish the results, shall not be infringed.

Agricultural Freedom

Farmers' rights to save, propagate, breed, and sell the food plants or animals that they have lawfully grown shall not be infringed.

Prohibition of general-purpose identity documents

Because general-purpose identity documents promote general surveillance, the state shall not issue credentials to individuals except for a specific limited purpose, and no such credential shall be checked for any purpose other than the one for which it was issued except pursuant to due process of law.

Published in 2013 in the public domain by Richard Stallman.