Global Internet Freedom

The Internet doesn’t end at national borders — neither should people’s right to connect and share information. Yet more and more nations see the Internet as a threat or, worse, as a tool for censorship, surveillance and repression.

Now more than 40 countries engage in Internet filtering and censorship, according to the OpenNet Initiative. They do this thanks to Western companies that sell blocking and surveillance technologies to repressive regimes. We have seen it in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Syria, where American-made technology is used to spy on, track and even hunt down pro-democracy activists. It’s happening across Asia as well as nations seek new means to clamp down on the people-powered growth of the Internet.

People often assume that their ability to speak freely via cellphones, websites and Internet services is protected. But the First Amendment and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are checks on government authority — not on corporations. And whether we’re texting friends via our smartphones, sharing photographs on Flickr, uploading videos to YouTube, or posting updates to Facebook, people are communicating with each other and sharing more and more of their lives via these privately controlled websites and networks.

Increasingly, these corporate communication platforms aid government acts of spying, censorship and human rights violations. The companies that create and operate this technology hide behind licensing agreements, opaque terms of service and government gag orders to deflect blame for silencing speech.

Free Press is working with a global alliance of free speech and digital rights groups to hold Internet companies responsible for their actions, clarify our universal right to connect and update policy to protect free speech in the age of ubiquitous mobile phones, social media and broadband.

Our goal is to ensure that power over the Internet remains in the hands of the people who use it every day and to stop efforts by companies and governments that use modern communications technology as a means of repression and exclusion.

Blog Posts

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Press Releases

  • Declaration of Internet Freedom Goes Global, Translated into 63 Languages

    August 7, 2012

    WASHINGTON — The Declaration of Internet Freedom — a statement of principles endorsed by more than 1,500 organizations — has been translated into more than 63 languages. Global Voices, an international coalition of bloggers, organized a 24-hour “translathon” to encourage international participation in the Declaration project and to highlight how everyone has a stake in the future of the Internet.

  • Free Press Action Fund Commends Rep. Chris Smith’s Efforts to Stop Companies Trafficking in Spying and Censorship Technology

    March 27, 2012

    WASHINGTON — A House subcommittee is scheduled to vote later today on the Global Online Freedom Act, a bill that seeks to prevent U.S. companies from helping repressive regimes censor and spy on their citizens. The legislation would also require Internet providers and search engines to disclose their policies for cooperating with censorship requests from "Internet restricting countries."

  • Questions Raised About U.S. Firm's Role in Egypt Internet Crackdown

    January 28, 2011

    WASHINGTON -- A U.S. company appears to have sold Egypt technology to monitor Internet and mobile phone traffic that is possibly being used by the ruling regime to crack down on communications as protests erupt throughout the country.

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Resources

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News from Around the Web

  • Civic Hall Beta Member: Tim Karr, Free Press

    TechPresident
    January 16, 2015

    This month Civic Hall, the new home for civic tech in New York City, opened its doors to beta members like Tim Karr, of Free Press. Beta members are people working in the civic tech space who have been invited to try out Civic Hall for the month of January: to work in the space and see what it is like, and in turn provide feedback to the Civic Hall team.

  • Narus, Company with Warantless Wiretapping Ties, Launches New Product for Pentagon

    Huffington Post
    February 27, 2013

    Narus, which said in a statement that it "counts governments, carriers and enterprises around the world among its growing customer base," seems to be targeting the Pentagon.

  • A Global Marathon to Translate the Declaration of Internet Freedom

    Global Voices
    July 26, 2012

    The world may be glued to the TV to watch the start of the Olympic Games in London, but a group of translators are excited about another challenge: the Internet Freedom Translathon, a marathon to get the Declaration of Internet Freedom translated in as many languages and dialects as possible over the course of 24 hours on Friday August 3.

Learn More

  • Broadband

    Access to high-speed Internet service — also known as broadband — is a basic public necessity, just like water or electricity.

    Yet despite its importance, broadband access in the United States is far from universal. Millions of Americans still stand on the wrong side of the "digital divide," unable to tap into the political, economic and social resources of the Internet.

  • Cable

    Two decades ago, something unusual happened.

    Consumers were irate about their cable bills, which were increasing at nearly three times the rate of inflation. And Congress actually did something — adopting in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion the 1992 Cable Act. The law resulted in lower cable bills, saving consumers $3 billion in just over a year’s time.

  • Cybersecurity

    Our right to private communications is a cornerstone of American democracy. But with heightened awareness in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, technological advances have continued allowing the government to expand its reach into our private lives via electronic surveillance and data-mining programs. New laws and policies introduced in the last decade have eroded our civil liberties online.

    Congress has a poor track record when it comes to cybersecurity legislation. The bills introduced so far give the government way too much power to intrude on our privacy online.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good