A coalition of individuals and organisations from the US has released a very interesting initiative, the Declaration of Internet Freedom:
We stand for a free and open Internet.
We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:
- Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
- Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
- Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
- Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
- Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.
These are excellent and concise principles. If you can read between the lines, they cover most hot-button legal topics, including disconnection, privacy, software patents, open source, open access, intermediary liability, free speech, censorship, and governance.
However, I have some minor quibbles with the above. As the initiative is mostly from US academics, citizens and organisations, the declaration seems geared towards the American market. Of the places where individuals can sign-up, only Free Press and Access offer the option to select the country (by the way, the eagle logo in Free Press made me groan). None of the sites offer any links to translations. The Access principle places too much emphasis on speed and price, instead of the real goal, which is universal connectivity. Let’s get everyone connected to the Internet first, then we can think about price and speed.
Interestingly, a group of US Libertarian organisations has released its own competing Declaration of Internet Freedom. These contain some of the expected non-government rhetoric that seems to obsess these people. Similarly, the principles are completely pro-industry, seemingly ignoring that a lot of threats to Internet Freedom come from enterprises and private parties.
What worries me is that we are starting to see a political split as to what Internet Freedom means. Personally, I like the first declaration better. I suspect that the Internet as a whole may too.
But please, please, please, abandon the conceit that the Internet is mostly about the few. I’ll do my part and will get started on a Spanish translation ASAP.
Edited: Here is a quick translation in Spanish, help appreciated.