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3 new ‘free the internet’ movements: how to choose the one for you

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July Fourth celebrations this week were marked by hot dogs, fireworks — and three proclamations to preserve the revolutionary spirit of the internet.

In case you missed it, the first save-the-internet declaration kicked off in Silicon Valley this week and was quickly countered by a conservative alternative. Soon after, the United Nations weighed in with a manifesto of its own.

This burst of political energy shows that the internet may be the next ground zero of revolution and that we may need a Constitution-like document to define its values.

For confused internet warriors or those who simply want to stay out of the way, here’s a quick look at the new movements:

Movement #1: The Declaration of Internet Freedoms

What it is: A statement of five principles — Expression, Access, Openness, Innovation and Privacy — intended to keep the internet safe from censors, tyrants, plutocrats and the government.

Brought to you by: Silicon Valley tech and media types; the folks who brought down the SOPA anti-piracy bill

Pros: Nice idea, backed by folks who make cool web stuff and haven’t done you any harm

Cons: Preaching to the converted; hippies; shaky legal foundation (see Elie’s Constitutional mark-up here)

Movement #2: The Technology Revolution: A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto

What it is: A libertarian proclamation to protect the internet from censorship and the “collectivist-Industrial complex — a dangerous brew of wealthy, international NGO’s, progressive do-gooders, corporate cronies,” and to ensure that telecom and big data companies aren’t burdened with regulation.

Brought to you by: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tx) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), end-the-Fed folks, the ghost of Ayn Rand

Pros: Backed by political pros; laissez-faire outlook

Cons: Gives Microsoft, Comcast et al keys to the entire internet; possibly catastrophic for privacy and the poor

Movement #3: The Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet

What it is: A UN Human Rights Council consensus resolution that affirms the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognizes the internet’s role in promoting a right to media and expression

Brought to you by: The foreign minister of Sweden (via the NY Times) but also the fine governments of China, Cuba, Congo, Kyrgyzgstan, Nigeria, Uganda, Russia and Saudi Arabia (full list here).

Pros: Ringing affirmation of free speech and media across borders

Cons: The new world order; rabid anti-Americanism

Who do you cast your vote for?

In a perfect world, a future “Constitution of the Internet” would represent the idealism and tech savvy of Silicon Valley, the political experience of Ron Paul and the global community of the United Nations. But is this even possible? Some people may embrace this rush to stand up against threats to the internet — while others may be more alarmed by the internet’s self-appointed protectors.

(Images by Rob Kints, fourb, patrimonio designs limited and Oleksiy Mark via Shutterstock)

7 Responses to “3 new ‘free the internet’ movements: how to choose the one for you”

  1. EU Brainwashing

    The Declaration of Internet Freedoms is simply a ‘statement’ of principles those who sign endorse or demand even. Elie’s Constitutional comments miss, or avoid, that point. It is not a draft for a legal bill it is an expression of wishes or expectations. The ‘we’ it refers to would be those who add their signature to the motion.

    ‘We’ do not need laws to protect freedom we need to preclude laws that curtail it.

  2. Internet should just be free from government control, we don’t need to stop people we just need to catch them when they break the crime. Don’t create better guns before making your hunters better.

  3. mPulse

    Don’t you think you’re getting a little paranoid when you call something “Anti-Americanism”. Think of it this way, Americanism is defined by wikipedia as: “Americanism is an ideology or belief in devotion, loyalty, or allegiance to the United States of America or to its flag, traditions, customs, culture, symbols, institutions, or form of government.”

    Now why on earch would the UN, supposedly a world council, promote Americanism? Not everyone in the world is American, not everyone in the world wants the American way of life. And I speak as a citizen of a western country. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes other countries dislike America; anything that isn’t loyality to America and it’s beliefs is considered “anti-American”, rather than on it’s values as a system of it’s own. It’s not like we sit here saying “Shit I really hate America, let’s do everything that they don’t like.”

    • Thanks for the comment mPulse. I’m not American either and don’t think that everyone in the world should be expected to embrace the country’s values.

      My comment is directed instead at the very spotty track record of the UN Human Rights Council and its even more ghastly predecessor, the Human Rights Commission. The members of these bodies have included hideous tyrannies like Zimbabwe and Libya. The Council has also had an obsessive fixation with perceived abuses in the US and Israel and disregarded the systemic human rights violations of China, Russia and others. Do you really want to put this Council in charge of the Internet? (or anything else for that matter..)