Declaration of Internet Freedom

I've signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a short, to-to-point manifesto for a free and open Internet. It's attracted some very august signatories, including Amnesty International, Hackers and Founders, Global Voices, Mozilla, the NY Tech Meetup, Personal Democracy, Fight for the Future, Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Aaron Swartz and Jonathan Zittrain. You can sign it too, and talk about it here or on Reddit.

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.

Declaration of Internet Freedom


  1. This declaration is painfully vague. For example, for privacy, why not say “No identifiable information shall be collected, stored, or shared from a user without that user’s permission.” For expression say “No government, corporation, organization, or network shall censor or restrict information transmitted over the Internet.”

    Instead we have these vague useless “principles” saying protect, defend, and promote. Protect, Defend, and Promote the Internet! Yay!

    What is needed is an Internet Bill of Rights. We do not need some declaration describing principles.

    1. I’m guessing once the declaration is taken up we will start getting a concrete bill of rights up for discussion since there’s going to be mass disagreement on what needs including.

      1. This declaration is useless because its vagueness would allow Facebook, AT&T, and Comcast to sign it and not feel the least bit guilty. Heck, the GOP might sign it! There are 101 ways to weasel out of every principle. Facebook claims that it protects your privacy and Comcast can claim that their anti-net neutrality stance and data caps actually help promote Internet access. Just read their press releases.

        1. Naturally companies will use this to try generating goodwill. IT’ll be when we get to the specifics (I hope that we do actually get that far where we’ll see where who stands on what.

  2. I’m all for Internet freedom, but when are people going to realize that freedom of information and privacy are mutually exclusive? You can’t have it both ways!

    If you prevent me from sharing your personal information, I am being censored! The only way to prevent me from doing so is for me not to have that information in the first place. The only way to prevent that is to never type it into a computer ever under any circumstances.

    1. If you prevent me from sharing your personal information, I am being censored!

      That is ridiculous. A doctor isn’t being censored when he or she can’t disclose a patient’s information. This is because it is their professional responsibility and duty to protect that information. The same applies to any website or network. They have a duty to protect private information. The fact that an online retailer won’t give me the credit card number you last used isn’t censorship in any form.

      1. It is just as futile to prevent people from sharing music and movies online as it is futile to prevent people from sharing credit card and social security numbers.

        Bits are bits. It is impossible to prevent them from being shared. I believe that the way forward is to stop trying to prevent bits from being shared, but instead learn to deal with this fact. 

      2.  You are right. The whole system would collapse if we had to worry about our financial information getting around. The public would pull back and the online marketers would suffer.

    2. When I first began computing and Inter-networking in 1987 (with dial-in BBSes), one of the first things I learned was to consider everything I post, share, or otherwise send elsewhere, to be PUBLIC.

    3.  Good point, many people willingly give it away.This trend toward openness, (including real names, pictures, etc), as used on Facebook and other vehicles will come back and haunt future victims of internet bullying, and helps to provide unwanted portfolios to data collection firms, who sell it to others. Once it is out there you can’t take it back.

  3. I signed the Declaration through the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but mine will likely find a deaf ear in the state for which I reside. With the exception of enclaves of enlightenment, here and thereabout, I live in a cultural and intellectual backwater.

  4. I’d love to sign this.  But i have no “Organization” and it demands one.  …i guess us individual sans-culottes just need not apply.   (and or is “I only dare represent myself” an organization of one?)

  5. I don’t actually agree with:

    “don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions. ”

    It should be 
    “don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions if they’ve taken reasonable steps to prevent misuse. “It’s too easy for somebody to make a lot of money of some highly immoral shit, and knowingly do so, but leave in some “plausible deniability” clause.Take reddit, for example. They quite rightly got rid of all sub-reddits devoted to ogling people who are below the age of consent, and rightly so. What if they’d been happy to sit back and let the ad views roll in? This declaration would have protected them. That’s not cool.

  6. Every so often, a good-intentioned town puts out free bicycles for everyone to use. After a while, the program fails because the bikes are stolen. But I’ve always appreciated the effort.

  7. You can sign it too

    …no, I can’t. Because I’m neither an organization, nor am I in possession of an american ZIP-code.

    If you need to be an organization or a US-citizen to be for internet freedom, then this declaration can (please pardon my german) mich mal am Arsch lecken.

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