Reconquering the public domain on the internet

A coalition of Dutch public broadcasters and cultural institutions, including Waag, has united in PublicSpaces, with the common goal: to restore the public domain on the internet. To revert to the ideals of the early days, in which the Internet was seen as a 'commons', where media would be democratised and the user would be central.

To do that, we will investigate what kind of other solution is possible. One based on what is defined as European core values, such as openness, transparency, responsibility, sovereignty; and one that the end-user does not see as an exploitable asset, but as a citizen who has the right to be informed about his world without having to be endangered by having to sell his personal data.

The approach is seen as a complement to two other avenues that also need to be followed: the legislative, where European rules can help curb the excesses of the online world; and the changes from the inside by putting pressure on the internet companies that govern our online lives. PublicSpaces has the intention to be non-profit, autonomous of political or commercial pressure, and only has the public interest in mind.

The initiative now consists of about 15 parties with a combined reach of 3 to 5 million people. The founding partners are public broadcasters (such as VPRO), institutions for cultural heritage (such as Eye Film Museum, Institute for Sound and Vision and Royal Library of the Netherlands) and institutions in the cultural field: festivals such as International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and International Film Festival. Rotterdam (IFFR). We are still looking for expansion with other types of organizations that have the public values ​​in their hearts: in education, in public services, consumer interest groups, health care, and so on.

In the end, PublicSpaces must also be open to commercial parties. But in this phase we are working on a firmer basis for what needs to happen in the future and finding funding for the initiative.

Anyone who wishes to join, or who wants to have more information about the initiative, can initially read the manifesto that has been published, or consult the frequently asked questions  (FAQ).

On 5 September 2018, the initiative will be presented at in Hilversum during the Dutch Media Week.