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.

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News from Around the Web

  • Open Internet Advocates Claim Victory in Europe Net Neutrality Fight

    August 31, 2016

    Open internet advocates celebrated after Europe’s top telecom authority issued stronger-than-expected guidelines protecting Net Neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible to consumers.

  • Advocates Hail Europe's Net Neutrality Guidelines

    The Hill
    August 31, 2016

    “Internet users have fought and won Net Neutrality protections in India, South America and the United States,” said Timothy Karr, the senior director of strategy for advocacy group Free Press. “Europe’s decision today — heeding the advice of internet users who favor robust safeguards for the open internet — is an essential part of this global push to advance the online rights of everyone.”

  • Civic Hall Beta Member: Tim Karr, Free Press

    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.

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  • 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