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article image'Declaration of Internet Freedom' — to keep the Internet free

By Anne Sewell     Jul 2, 2012 in Internet
Many of the web giants and other organizations are joining together to sign a Declaration of Internet Freedom, to keep the internet free and open.
In the wake of SOPA and PIPA, and with CISPA and ACTA still threatening web freedom, several international organizations, including Amnesty International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla and CREDO have signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom. The document calls for, among other things, Internet openness, access and privacy.
With 35% of the world's population online, the Internet is an integral part of society. It has affected almost every aspect of our lives and our culture. However, the free Internet that we are used to is being threatened on a regular basis by one internet censorship threat after another.
In January this year, millions came together to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Protesters marched in the streets and over 100,000 websites organized blackouts, 7 million Internet users signed petitions and every means necessary was taken to demonstrate the dangers of these acts. These two draconian bills never even made it past Congress in the U.S.
While Internet users do not dispute the need for some control over online information, users are concerned about the various acts and treaties being thought up by governments to control the Internet. First there was SOPA and PIPA, now there is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). If any of these bills should pass into being, it would spell out the end of online freedom and privacy.
To prevent this a group of more than 100 organizations, individuals and businesses have put the declaration online. There is even a special subreddit on reddit.com to try and spark a global discussion.
According to those who have signed the declaration, as well as to avoid acts like SOPA and PIPA reaching Congress again, the goal is to achieve broader public support and understanding of Internet freedom principles
An Internet campaign director from the Free Press, Josh Levy, says, “what’s great about this is that while we all have our different needs and strategies and desires, we’ve come together around what we understand to be our ultimate goals."
TechDirt, one of the websites involved, says: "We've seen how the Internet has been under attack from various directions, and we recognize that it's time to make that stop. The Internet is an incredible platform that we want to grow and to thrive, and thus, a very large coalition got together to produce the following document as a starting point, hoping to kick off a much larger discussion which we hope you'll join in."
While the groups involved in creating this declaration have different objectives, and will continue to pursue these, Free Press plans to enlist the public to support the principles of the declaration. Levy says that its goal is not to get a new law passed around the declaration, but to mobilize people and to then engage policymakers on Internet freedom issues.
The declaration reads as follows:
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.
All Internet users and businesses are welcome to sign the Declaration of Internet Freedom here.
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