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Journalists, advocates and tech leaders band together to protect Internet freedom

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, July 2, 2012 16:08 EDT
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A man happily browses the Internet. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
 
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A vast coalition of journalists, advocates and tech leaders announced this week the formulation of a new political platform in defense of the Internet, explaining in a declaration published Monday that this new international movement will fight to keep the Web “free and open.”

The platform is designed to leverage a rapid response to legislation that would fundamentally alter the structure or operation of the Internet, like the proposed regulations that failed earlier this year thanks to the largest work stoppage protest the Internet has ever seen.

“We believe that a free and open Internet can bring about a better world,” the declaration’s preamble explains. “To keep the Internet free and open, we call on communities, industries and countries to recognize these principles. We believe that they will help to bring about more creativity, more innovation and more open societies.”

The full document reads:

“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.”

Organizations endorsing the declaration include Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Speech TV, Mozilla, Netroots Nation, the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, Techdirt, Reporters Without Borders, Public Knowledge, the Prometheus Radio Project, Fight for the Future, the Open Technology Institute and Color of Change, among many others.

The new coalition represents the next step for organizers who earlier this year successfully defeated two bills that critics feared would have fundamentally broken the structure of the Internet. That legislation, known as SOPA and PIPA, was ultimately dropped after more than 100,000 websites went dark and told users to call Congress to protest Internet censorship. The mass-blackout tactic could be employed again, should members decide it is necessary. (Disclosure: The Raw Story’s management participated in the mass-blackout protest.)

“It’s essential to emphasize that the declaration is designed not to be the final word but rather to spark a much larger discussion,” Sascha Meinrath and Craig Aaron, two of the declaration’s authors, explained in an essay published by Slate. “If you agree with the principles we’ve crafted, we welcome you to sign on. But we are just as interested in why you disagree with them or what you think is missing. And we hope you will debate them, translate them, make them your own, and broaden the discussion with your community, as only the Internet makes possible.”
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Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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