Honestly, it was an awesome time to be on the Internet. Hollywood, the music industry and the government teamed up and attempted to stifle Internet free speech with a seemingly dictatorship-type of authority, proposing the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act (SOPA and PIPA) legislatures. If passed, the open internet would be no more.
Infuriated, web surfers and web companies joined forces to protect the free and open foundation that has allowed our World Wide Web to thrive and grow. Many sites simply signed off in protest, going completely dark for a planned duration while others published their own verbal protests. Anonymous even went on a DDoS spree, attacking those who supported the bills. Eventually the backlash pushed SOPA and PIPA supporters to back out, many of which began to question the actual wording.
Unfortunately, this is just one example of how frail the free and open Internet really is. The entertainment industry and government are already brewing up plans to develop additional legislation -- even SOPA and PIPA aren't officially dead. Web surfers and organizations will be prepared to fight again, but they also need to be on the offensive in the process. That's where the Declaration of Internet Freedom comes in.
Launched on Monday by more than 100 businesses, organizations and individuals, the Declaration of Internet Freedom contains five principles outlining basic freedoms that all web surfers should possess. Organizations and companies who already back this movement include Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, the Internet Infrastructure Coalition and more. Internet pioneer Vinton G. Cerf, former White House deputy CTO Andrew MacKinnon, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and numerous others are listed as individual supporters.
Here are the five principles proposed by the Declaration of Internet Freedom:
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.
"We believe that a free and open Internet can bring about a better world," the group states. "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. We are joining an international movement to defend our freedoms because we believe that they are worth fighting for."
"Let’s discuss these principles -- agree or disagree with them, debate them, translate them, make them your own and broaden the discussion with your community -- as only the Internet can make possible," the group adds. "Join us in keeping the Internet free and open."
Want to sign the Declaration of Internet Freedom? Head here. We're interested to see what The Three Bodies have to say about the declaration, or if it will be ignored completely. Still, take a stand and protect your rights. The war over your Internet free speech is far from over.