Declaration of Internet Freedom
By Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
The Internet is essential to life in the 21st century. The way we do business, communicate and live our lives now largely depends on being able to get online. Ensuring the freedom to access and use the Internet has become a bipartisan priority.
For the first time, both the Republican and Democratic parties included a discussion of Internet freedom in their official platforms.
"The Internet," says the GOP platform, "has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power."
The Democratic platform states: "President [Barack] Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations or privacy."
These party platform documents are not without their differences. Open, inclusive and robust debate is a good thing. But when it comes to Internet freedom, there is far more that unites us than separates us.
That is the reason we have both signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom — a landmark document drafted by Internet advocates of all political persuasions who have come together in support of five principles that transcend partisan politics.
The declaration reads:
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 in which 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.
More than 50,000 people and some 2,000 organizations — representing millions of people around the world — have already signed this declaration. It has been translated into more than 70 languages, so that as many people as possible can read the text and participate in the debate.
The Internet may well prove to be our most fundamental technological achievement. Because of it, people around the world have instant access to vital information, can hold their governments accountable and create better lives for themselves and their families.
Democrats and Republicans, despite continuing political debate and differences, can join together to protect an open Internet that strengthens our economy and our democracy.
Will you join us in supporting the Declaration of Internet Freedom?
Visit www.internetdeclaration.org to view it.
Published in the September 18, 2012 edition of POLITICO.