The Declaration of Internet Freedom


Following last year’s controversial SOPA and PIPA debates, a group of academics, entrepreneurs, and advocates sought to produce a formal document to protect and define the end-user of the Internet. As a result, the Declaration of Internet Freedom has been released. Here’s an excerpt from the Declaration’s preamble:

We believe that a free and open Internet can bring about a better world. 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.

Split into five central doctrines, the Declaration seeks to define the most important elements of a transparent, free, and open Internet in simplistic, clear, and unquestionable language. Although unenforceable, the Declaration instead works toward the education of even the most uninformed of people. As was key to the SOPA debate, ignorance can prove to be a path toward misguided fear and reactionary responses. By defining basic tenets of the Internet experience and encouraging further discussion, the Declaration hopes to undercut the potential for ignorance, to foster an intellectual community, and to discuss precisely what the Internet should be for all of its users.

Although the document may not amount to much today, there is a distinct feeling of optimism surrounding the movement. The serious sentiment of the Declaration betrays a shifting tone within the Internet atmosphere, and an increasing cognizance of the impending push toward regulation. In moving now, the Declaration establishes an affable and remarkably mature tone of support and readiness for the ongoing discussion. Shedding the immaturities inherent within the Anonymous and Lulz movements, the Declaration is steeped within the bounds of traditional political language — wording utterly comprehensible for even the most disconnect of people.

To endorse the Declaration of Internet Freedom, sign the document on its official website. For those hoping to contribute to the discussion, Free Press has announced several forums for discussion, including a dedicated sub-Reddit.

"Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign Registrar on behalf of US Authorities"

Following yesterday's shuttering of online casino, Bodog, Mark Jeftovic reports on the worrying specifics of the events:

But at the end of the day what has happened is that US law (in fact, Maryland state law) as been imposed on a .com domain operating outside the USA, which is the subtext we were very worried about when we commented on SOPA. Even though SOPA is currently in limbo, the reality that US law can now be asserted over all domains registered under .com, .net, org, .biz and maybe .info (Afilias is headquartered in Ireland by operates out of the US).

This is no longer a doom-and-gloom theory by some guy in a tin foil hat. It just happened.

The ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of US federal and state lawmakers (not exactly known their cluefulness nor even-handedness, especially with regard to matters of the internet).

Back in January, many made the argument that the successful takedown of MegaUpload was evidence that the provisions of SOPA and PIPA were unnecessary as the desired outcome was already readily achievable. I doubt most realized how accurate that sentiment may prove to be.

"The Piracy Threshold"

With SOPA, PIPA and ACTA fresh in memory, piracy is a hot topic amongst the Internet community. These pieces of legislation, although cosmetically and geographically disparate, boast a fundamentally similar goal.

The goal is not to simply contend with piracy at its source, the goal is to harm the end-user and the infrastructure of the Internet to such an extent that piracy becomes inconvenient, impractical, and costly. But, just as with most of their DRM methods, Big Media companies excel at a truly poignant level of ineptitude when it comes to contending with a problem and understanding their contextual environment.

Fed up with this, Matt Gemmell writes:

Give us convenient content at a reasonable price, and we’ll buy it. Sell the stuff without DRM, for a few dollars. Make it available to everyone, worldwide, at the same time. Then take the massive, unending pile of money, forever.

I won't spoil his whole article - it is quotable in its entirety. I plan to bookmark and re-read whenever the next piece of legislation pops up. Just for the sake of sanity.

Lamar Smith Withdraws SOPA

Lamar Smith has officially withdrawn SOPA from consideration (for now). Smith told Reuters:

I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy... It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.

Although the matter isn't likely to sit still, the deaths of both SOPA and PIPA are certainly resounding endorsements of the viability of Internet protest and widespread awareness.

Former Senator Chris Dodd, MPAA CEO, Responds to SOPA/PIPA Delay

Channeling his most xenophobic voice, the MPAA CEO, Chris Dodd, has issued his response to the news of the postponement of SOPA and PIPA in Congress:

We applaud those leaders in Washington who have chosen to stand with the millions of hard working Americans all across this nation whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign criminal websites designed to steal. As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves; American jobs will continue to be lost; and consumers will continue to be exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.

With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property. The threat posed by these criminal operations has been widely acknowledged by even the most ardent critics.  It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.

It is genuinely unbelievable that such ignorant rhetoric continues to spew out of this despicable organization unabated. Rather than taking a loss, regrouping, or, God forbid, taking note of the recent deluge of dissent, the MPAA remains committed to perpetuating and fully instantiating its image as the Internet's most formidable and cretinous enemy.

Considering the media's piercing focus on the MPAA via SOPA and PIPA coverage, Dodd would do well to adopt a slightly more reasonable attitude. Prior to this week, most people were probably largely unaware of the MPAA and its motives, but not any more. Such ridiculous statements will only reaffirm any inkling of distaste for the media giant.

Combining xenophobia and fear-mongering, Dodd has hit upon quite possibly the worst possible tone for his response, underlining his baffling misunderstanding of the nature of the Internet and piracy. Harping on about cliché topics like jobs, foreigners, and America, Dodd's true intent (hint: more money) is embarrassingly transparent.

Depressing as it is, the reality is just as Marco Arment says: "the MPAA studios hate us."

(Via TPM)