One Nation Under Internet
First came the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a document defending a free and open internet that would probably have moved the Founding Fathers to eye-roll, hard-core, had they been around to see it. Then there was the Internet Defense League, a collection of websites that promised to bond together in the name of the internet whenever the signal of a cat is flashed. And now? Well, now there’s a bus tour, spearheaded by Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, to raise awareness about the importance of a free internet across the country.
Today a group of academics, entrepreneurs and other interested parties published something they call the “Declaration of Internet Freedom” prompted by recent attempts to legislate the series of tubes. The Declaration has the virtue of brevity with just five points: expression, access, openness, innovation and privacy. It also boasts a long list of name-brand supporters including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Cheezburger network, the Harry Potter Alliance, TechStars and the NY Tech Meetup.
“Our goal is to spark a global discussion among Internet users and communities about the Internet and our role in it,” Sascha Meinrath and Craig Aaron of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute and Free Press wrote in a manifesto published by Slate today.
It’s funny to see things like Declarations and Bills of Rights being written with the Internet in mind, because people have long referred to the network as if it were a nation-state. Never mind that the Internet’s users and communities include governments, household appliances, hedge funds and citizens of developing countries; Americans who work and play in the knowledge economy have long been guilty of the fallacy of grouping Internet users into one constituency, one group of united interests, one hivemind. The Internet hates rich people. The Web killed SOPA. The Internet rallied to help a verbally-abused bus monitor.