Tag Archives: free speech

Declaration of Internet Freedom

Declaration of Internet Freedom

internet icon


We believe that a free and open Internet can bring about a better world. To keep the Internet free and open, we call on communities, industries and countries to recognize these principles. We believe that they will help to bring about more creativity, more innovation and more open societies.

We are joining an international movement to defend our freedoms because we believe that they are worth fighting for.

Let’s discuss these principles — agree or disagree with them, debate them, translate them, make them your own and broaden the discussion with your community — as only the Internet can make possible.

Join us in keeping the Internet free and open.


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.

via aaaainternetdeclaration.org

An open-sourced call for basic rights on the internet. I’m thrilled to see this document born in response to the horrendous congressional overreaching we saw in the SOPA and PIPA acts, and hopefully it’s widespread adoption will help curtail crap like that in the future.

The FBI’s New Unit Can Spy on Skype and Wireless Communications

<blockquote class=’posterous_long_quote’><p>Four years and $54 million later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is finally ready to launch a surveillance unit capable of spying on Skype conversations and other Internet communications.</p><p>The Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC) is a collaborative effort between the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. All three agencies will build&nbsp;customized hardware to enable wiretapping on wireless and Internet conversations per court order requests.</p></blockquote>


Supreme Court strikes down video game violence law on free speech grounds

Arguing that video games qualify for First Amendment protection, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that California’s video game violence law is unconstitutional.

The state law restricted the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, the court upheld a Ninth Circuit court of appeals ruling that said the act violated the First Amendment. For the first time, the highest court in the country will give the same legal protection that books, plays, and movies enjoy, because games “communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium.” The court cited a previous case that held, “the basic principles of freedom of speech do not vary with a new and different communication medium.” With that, a long chapter of legal warfare will end and the video game industry can enjoy its own measure of creative freedom.

Seems pretty obvious, in retrospect. I’m surprised such a bill even made it this far.

British Courts Try to Stop the Tide of Social Media

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook makes anyone a publisher, and that’s disrupting the media industry, but the legal system isn’t much better off, since the courts like to control the flow of information almost as much as the media does. British courts in particular are wrestling with the impact of these technologies on their ability to control the publicity around a trial. In the latest move, a judge has issued an injunction that specifically bans the publication of any information involving the case via Twitter or Facebook. But in the battle of social media vs the courts, the former will almost certainly win.

Well, this sounds absurd. Is this an injunction against the people in the courtroom who are first-hand sources, or the republishing of information about what they’ve said, via Twitter? The language seems to suggest an extremely broad interpretation, but you’d have to be a certifiable nut to think you could control the flow of Twtter.

Now, Facebook – that’s another story.

Court to FCC: Back Off on ‘Net Neutrality’ – NYTimes.com

As Edward Wyatt wrote on Wednesday, a federal court ruled that the F.C.C. overstepped by telling Comcast it could not limit the amount of broadband available to certain heavy users.

The decision will allow Internet service companies to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver their content faster to users.The court decision was a setback to efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to require companies to give Web users equal access to all content, even if some of that content is clogging the network.

Mozilla Takes a Stand Against Dept of Homeland Security via @RWW

Sometimes you have to take a stand, even if that means standing against the United States Department of Homeland Security. That is what Mozilla is doing concerning the MafiaaFire extension to Firefox.

According to Anderson, the questions Mozilla asked were similar to these:

  • Have any courts determined that the Mafiaafire add-on is unlawful or illegal in any way? If so, on what basis? (Please provide any relevant rulings)
  • Is Mozilla legally obligated to disable the add-on or is this request based on other reasons? If other reasons, can you please specify.
  • Can you please provide a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which your request to Mozilla to take down the Mafiaafire  add-on is based?

The question about the extension is less about professional sports teams, piracy and copyright and more about threats to the open Internet. Mozilla is an open source supporter and its developers are big contributors to open source projects and community members on code-sharing forum GitHub. Mozilla is looking for due process and transparency from DHS. It is the right stand to take, even if MafiaaFire and the seized sites it redirects from are not the most upstanding citizens of the World Wide Web.

Supremes to decide if public domain works can be re-copyrighted

The Supreme Court will says it will hear a case considering whether public domain works can be pushed back into the copyright closet. And advocacy groups say that free speech is at stake in this fight. Congress’ decision to uphold an international treaty allowing for public works to be “restored” into copyright will create an atmosphere of uncertainty for libraries, they warn, caretakers of the public domain.

“Because it protects our cultural commons, the public domain is equally essential, in turn, to free speech, helping to give meaning to the First Amendment right to receive information,” wrote the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Internet Archive in a brief asking the Supremes to hear the matter.

“Given the large number of works in the collections of US libraries, libraries must reasonably fear that they could be sued multiple times if they continued to provide access to the materials in their collections that might be withdrawn from the public domain.”

Mubarak Stepping Down Amidst Groundbreaking Digital Revolution

The events in Egypt served as a flash point for journalists on the ground, too. For perhaps one of the first times in history, history itself has been recorded instantaneously, as reporters took to Twitter to share 140-character updates and personal stories from the protests. The messages provided a stark reality to readers in the outside world, especially as the protests turned violent and police turned on journalists — the very people many of us outside the country were following.

But Al Jazeera had its “CNN Moment,” and although it couldn’t reach viewers in the U.S. by cable television, it found a way to viewers — on YouTube. The network live streamed Mubarak’s public address — in which many believed he would resign — Thursday via YouTube. But Al Jazeera’s comprehensive coverage put it on the radar for U.S. viewers and it created a campaign to bring its English-language network to U.S. televisions.

I’ll go out on a limb: Bringing Al Jazeera to US cable networks is the single most important act Americans can authorize to bring an end to terrorism. Yes, the flow of communication across the world, and the media and cultural perspectives attached (embedded, even) to it, are impossible to overestimate. Hatred, and violence stem from ignorance, and sharing information and life experience with people from other cultures is the single best way to do that.

WikiLeaks’ Assange Threatened Lawsuit Over Leaked Diplomatic Cables | Threat Level | Wired.com

After receiving the database of a quarter-million cables from Assange under embargo last August, the Guardian obtained a second copy of the database from a WikiLeaks insider without conditions — which led the newspaper to conclude it was no longer bound by a signed agreement with Assange that it wouldn’t publish the documents until he gave the go-ahead.
Assange was pallid and sweaty, his thin frame racked by a cough that had been plaguing him for weeks. He was also angry, and his message was simple: he would sue the newspaper if it went ahead and published stories based on the quarter of a million documents that he had handed over to The Guardian just three months earlier…. Assange’s position was rife with ironies. An unwavering advocate of full, unfettered disclosure of primary-source material, Assange was now seeking to keep highly sensitive information from reaching a broader audience. He had become the victim of his own methods: someone at WikiLeaks, where there was no shortage of disgruntled volunteers, had leaked the last big segment of the documents, and they ended up at The Guardian in such a way that the paper was released from its previous agreement with Assange — that The Guardian would publish its stories only when Assange gave his permission. Enraged that he had lost control, Assange unleashed his threat, arguing that he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released.

Quite an interesting shade of hypocrisy there on Mr. Assange’s remarks.

Warrantless cell phone search gets a green light in California

According to the California Supreme Court, police don’t need a warrant to start digging through your phone’s contents.

[the defendant] had argued that the warrantless search of his phone violated his Fourth Amendment rights, but the trial court said that anything found on his person at the time of arrest was “really fair game in terms of being evidence of a crime.”

The decision was not unanimous, though. “The potential intrusion on informational privacy involved in a police search of a person‟s mobile phone, smartphone or handheld computer is unique among searches of an arrestee’s person and effects,” Justices Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos Moreno wrote in dissent.

They went on to argue that the court majority’s opinion would allow police “carte blanche, with no showing of exigency, to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee’s person. The majority thus sanctions a highly intrusive and unjustified type of search, one meeting neither the warrant requirement nor the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

I wonder if the police can force you to unlock your password-protected phone, or if that order would constitute the unreasonable part of the search? 

Also, I’m surprised to not hear any argument about the data not actually existing on your person, the same way a piece of hair or a paint chip would.  Sure, the cell phone’s physical case travels in your pocket, but identifying exactly where the incriminating data resides is a bit more tricky.  A text message certainly is stored on the phone itself, but what about emails?  They’re downloaded to the phone, but would most accurately be described as living in the cloud – because they can be accessed from numerous different portals. 

And this is no small point.  Whereas a piece of hair from a murder victim or a fingerpriont does pretty much conclusively show your physical presence at the location, given we can only exist in one place, data does not.  The text message could have been sent from any number of devices, and consumed from afar, even by people other than the defendant.  It seems an extraordinarily shirtsighted decision to treat ephemeral data as if it had a physical presence – and to therefore applies to same rules of physics to it.