Digital scholarship blog

24 February 2015

Magna Carta: My Digital Rights Project

This is a guest post by Sarah Shaw, the Magna Carta: My Digital Rights Project Manager:

Have you ever wondered when enough is enough? When banter becomes cyberbullying or when protection descends into an invasion of privacy? We're asking students aged 11-18 from across the globe to consider these questions through our new online learning resource, Magna Carta: My Digital Rights.

The project was borne out of a discussion that has been going on for a few years now – do we need a Magna Carta for the internet? Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, certainly thinks that we do and his World Wide Web Foundation is campaigning for a bill of rights to protect the Web. Here at the British Library we’re also joining this conversation and celebrating the anniversary of not only the Web, aged 25 in 2014, but also Magna Carta (800 years young this year).

Our project will crowd-source a Magna Carta for the digital age, solely based on the opinions of young people – that generation of ‘digital natives’ who will be tasked with protecting the Web in the future, and who are charged with establishing their rights and responsibilities online. Through collaborations with the British Council, the World Wide Web Foundation and Southbank Centre we've brought this debate to life.

On our website you'll find 15 video scenarios that have been developed to get young people debating in the classroom. Each video poses a key question such as 'should access to the Web be a human right?' which students then debate with their peers. Each scenario has a supporting set of teachers' notes which feature helpful links, relevant legal notes and some prompt questions to encourage students to get to the heart of the discussion. Once the debate is done, the class submits their clause to our Magna Carta for the digital age.

And the most exciting bit? Well, the supporting videos and articles that we've produced feature some fantastic content, even if we say so ourselves: Shami Chakrabarti CBE of Liberty; Rachel Logan of Amnesty International UK; and Simon Phipps of the Open Source Initiative are just a few of the fantastic people that have contributed to the site. They really open up some of the wider debates around the Web and provide digestible information about the complexities of freedom, access and privacy online.

The resource has been really well received so far, and it was even featured on BBC Radio One's The Surgery this month as part of their week discussing internet safety.

So what next? Well, we want as many schools as possible to take part in these debates. In June 2015, we'll unveil our Magna Carta for the digital age – made up entirely of the clauses that young people have submitted. If you know a teacher or a student, please make them aware of this project and encourage them to have their say.

To find out more visit

If you want to discuss how you can use this resource in the classroom email us at [email protected]

Join the debate on Twitter #MyDigitalRights




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