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Posts Tagged ‘Security Concerns’

Comments Off on Internet Freedom Day: January 18

Internet Freedom Day: January 18

It’s been over a decade now since I wrote the first book from the Electonic Frontier Foundation about safety, freedom, and privacy on the Internet. Since then, much has changed, and much has remained the same. The changes have included a huge number of people coming online from all parts of the world and creating the majority of the content online (instead of just webmasters doing it). What remains the same is the constant threat to the value of this amazing resource by well-meaning (and sometimes not-so-well-meaning) people who would attempt to censor or limit the access or freedom of expression that takes place here.

I saw a post from old friend and collaborator, Craig Newmark (the Craigslist guy) asking that everyone post somewhere the answer to the question, “How does the Internet give you a voice?” He’s planning on doing something special with the posts he collects on January 18th, Internet Freedom Day.

Here goes mine: I have been fortunate to have had a voice in print for many years as an author of magazine columns and books.  Even for a published author, the Internet lowered the bar for me to be able to express myself how I wanted, when I wanted, and most importantly, to WHOM I wanted because it is a one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many medium all at the same time.  It’s like nothing else in human history, and we have still only scratched the surface of what we can do with this tool.

That’s why I remain concerned that special interest (of the corporate kind) will be able to lobby lawmakers and get laws passed that favor big companies over individual users.  I’m still concerned that regulation for supposed security concerns turns this global public square into a channel for so-called “approved use” only. And I remain vigilant that the Net remain open to all and free of unneeded regulation to assure that innovators have the opportunity to extend the capabilities and penetration of Internet use everywhere.

Now, that all said, I’d like to call your attention to Craig’s campaign in support of a new law that will actually protect the freedoms I’ve been talking about.  Ironically carrying the same initials as a law that would have done the exact opposite if passed back in 1998 (but we beat it down!), CDA 230 will codify the values of freedom and equality that most of us cherish online.  The graphic below tells you more.

Craig said:
We take things for granted, like the vitality and freedom offered by the Internet. The Net potentially gives everyone a voice. However, it’s not available to everyone, and that freedom must be asserted and sometimes fought for to keep it.

Internet Freedom Day reminds us that we all need to work together to preserve what we have and to help everyone realize their own individual voice. It’s something which we assert frequently, not just one day, but it’s one way to remind ourselves that what we take for granted can be lost.

To give a voice to voiceless, my team and I work to get serious network connectivity where it’s a challenge. Specifically, we work with Inveneo.org, a team which is really good at getting the Internet in difficult circumstances. For example, we’ve supported them in Haiti, the West Bank, and Kenya.

To help protect what we have in the US, we help preserve one of the laws which preserve freedom of speech. That’s section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Now and then, bad politicians attack it, but it’s a strong protection against those who would suppress stuff that they just don’t like. It’s being able to voice stuff like this that let’s me know the Internet really does give me a voice. We’ve worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to better explain CDA 230, so please check out this infographic: