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Craig Newmark

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Get on the Internet Bus for Serious Internet Freedom

Posted: 09/17/2012 11:10 am

Okay, we the people of the Net did real well when we stopped some seriously bad law, SOPA. Now, we're looking around, trying to figure out how we can get it together so we can unite in defense of what's now being called "Internet Freedom."

My bias: I'm a nerd, highly motivated to get stuff done, have learned the hard way that I need to bridge multiple interests. That's to be fair, since part of the nerd dysfunction is to believe that life should be fair, even if it's not. Politically, I'm a "libertarian pragmatist."

Further, speaking very personally, I believe in the "shining city on the hill" thing, which means in the U.S. we need to be real serious about standing up for basic rights. That includes the idea that a person can work hard, play fair, and have a good life. That means keeping the Net the most level playing field we can.

The deal with SOPA was that it would have changed the Internet as we know it.

What SOPA did was make it fairly easy to shut down sites with any user-generated content, which could even include comments.

The big deal with the anti-SOPA movement was that the people of the Internet worked together to get something good done.

Next... how we do really get our act together?

One really good effort is the Internet Defense League. The deal is that when something needs doing, a whole bunch of good people will get the word out.

2012-09-17-IDL_SF_Bridge.jpg
The Cat Signal on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Credit: Ben Simon, Mozilla


Lots more needs to be done, first of which will be to get the word out, and leaders in the effort are doing the old-fashioned thing, a bus tour.

That's totally timely, because political parties are in the process of adopting what they call Internet freedom principles. Most of both parties' platforms include really good stuff, with one snag, regarding "net neutrality."

Net neutrality, in simplest terms, is about providing a level playing field for all, as opposed to paying for privilege or elite status.

Net neutrality is about fostering investment, consumer choice and free speech.

"Internet freedom" without net neutrality, well, that's fake.

Denial of net neutrality involves granting privileges to large companies that control access to the Internet. The big companies have lobbied heavily for laws that would generate greater profits for these companies at the expense of Internet users.

Denial of net neutrality benefits the people that prefer to write lobbyists (and sometimes the "campaigns" of politicians as well) big checks, since the return on investment is huge.

I've been talking to people on both sides for years, focusing on fellow nerds. The two sides are actually close together, on the tech side. However, the Washington people I talk to point to lobbyists who like to pick a fight, since that way they get more billable hours, and more.

The deal is that we the people of the Internet, need to work together, to support the people who speak on behalf of real Internet freedom. The Internet Defense League and the Internet Bus are a good start.

Your part is to show support, starting with your social media votes, meaning Facebook and Google+ Shares, Twitter retweets, stuff like that.

Me? Nerds get done what's gotta get done.

More to come...

 

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