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Internet declares its independence


A man holds a sign at a protest by the technology organization New York Tech Meetup against proposed laws to curb Internet piracy outside the offices of US Democratic Senators from New York Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand January 18, 2012 on Third Avenue in New York. Schumer and Gillibrand are co-sponsors of the Senate bill PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is the US House version.



The World Wide Web has declared it's independence.

A coalition of activist groups pronounced the internet's liberty today in a "Declaration of Internet Freedom." The document, its signatories say, lists five basic principles that should guide internet policymakers and ensure the future of a free and open internet.

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.

Activists said the declaration aims to broaden support for internet freedom and discourage lawmakers from attempting to pass another SOPA, a cyber-security bill that outraged internet freedom activists last year. 

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"I don’t think the way for Congress to get these principles and understand them is to get big public companies to lobby — it’s getting individuals to lobby. We’re all lobbyists,” said Josh Levy, the internet campaign director for Free Press, an open internet advocacy organization.

The online activist community has proven its ability, much like a traditional labor union, to organize large numbers and influence public policy. Increasingly, this form of online lobbying is taking place around the world through Facebook, Twitter and, now, forums like Reddit. 

Established activist and advocacy organizations, like the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, signed onto the declaration, lending it more credibility and raising its profile in the media. Others organizations backing the declaration include the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Mozilla and just over 100 others. Notable individual signatories include author Neil Gaiman, Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian and representatives from MIT and Harvard University. 

To spread the word and increase participation, Free Press founded a subreddit specifically for the declaration, r/internetdeclaration. So far, the internet’s reception of the declaration has been tepid. The declaration's subreddit has a meager 43 subscribers as of Monday morning and only two posts. Considering other, less ambitious subreddits like r/WTF have over a million subscribers, r/internetdeclaration may have some catching up to do.

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