Anyone who thinks that net neutrality is a boring technical issue for computer geeks needs to look outside the U.S. Netizens around the world aren’t fooled by the confusing misdirection of industry lobbyists—they’re championing the cause of an open internet by pushing for laws and policies that protect the features that made the internet what it is today. And they are just as fired up as President Obama himself was just this month, when he gave his full support for the open net. Net neutrality is not an American issue, or a European issue, or an African issue. It is increasingly a global human rights issue.
Today, more than 35 organizations from around the world and 19 countries launched http://www.thisisnetneutrality.org, a website that will serve as a resource for policy makers and a staging point for international activism. Organizations from South Korea, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Germany, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Chile, Bangladesh, Colombia, and the Netherlands provided their support and it has already been translated into 11 languages. (Yes, net neutrality matters just as much in Korean as it does in English.)
You can read more about the coalition in this press release here [PDF].
Below are some quotes from the diverse array of coalition members. We’ll write with more updates soon.
Marianne Diaz Hernandez, director of Acceso Libre (Venezuela), said:
“Thisisnetneutrality.org is a great resource for us to show how important net neutrality is for the preservation of freedom of speech, access to information, and knowledge all over the world. In Venezuela, the protection of net neutrality is essential for the preservation of civil rights and democracy.”
Niels ten Oever, Head of Digital of Article 19, said:
“Protecting the plurality and diversity of information is fundamental to securing the right to freedom of expression for all. Unfortunately, they are under threat by moves to end “net neutrality” – the principle that those controlling the internet infrastructure should not interfere or discriminate between the types of data that travel along it.”
Floris Kreiken, Human Rights Officer at Bits of Freedom (Netherlands), said:
“Now we have a resource for the world to discover and for policy makers to know that net neutrality matters so that they can make informed decisions about the future of the internet.”
Claudio Ruiz, Executive Director of Derechos Digitales (Chile), said:
“This coalition understands that net neutrality is not just a technical issue but also a fully political one. It’s not just a consumers issue but a substantive one. Chile and Peru have groundbreaking net neutrality law provisions and the Inter-American system of human rights sees net neutrality as a human rights issue. Its presence can guarantee fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and privacy for citizens worldwide, and therefore its defense has to be global.”
Mohammad Farooq of Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan), said: “The significance of net neutrality in Pakistan cannot be ignored. With a fledgling infrastructure and a booming startup and entrepreneurship culture, net neutrality has a big part to play. Net neutrality can help raise awareness about internet censorship issues and champion the cause of internet freedom and the right to free speech worldwide. Pakistan is still in its infancy in terms of net neutrality, but its application is nevertheless significant and cannot be ignored at any cost. It is a principle that advocates for the equality of internet traffic online and no discrimination, and it encourages innovation and creativity that will only enhance the worthiness of the internet even further. Net neutrality is a principle that advocates for opportunities for any netizen online irrespective of class, creed, or culture.”
Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst at Electronic Frontier Foundation, said:
“We love the openness and accessibility of the internet, but we worry about it coming under threat from those who want to surround it with gates and toll booths. In cases where market competition isn’t sufficient to dispel these threats, open internet rules can help.”
Arzak Khan, director of Internet Policy Observatory (Pakistan) said:
“Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan has joined the Global Coalition for Net Neutrality to highlight the importance of net neutrality to users and policy makers in Pakistan. The issue of Net Neutrality is very important for internet uses in Pakistan, as existing telecommunications law in the country, while prohibiting “unjust discrimination” by ISPs, does not effectively enforce net neutrality. The existing laws do not sufficiently prevent the possibility of ISPs offering tiered services to content providers, thereby turning the internet into a two-tiered network on which corporate content is prioritized over other content. Net neutrality means that every site on the internet runs on the same speed. That way, startups in Pakistan and other countries can compete with big Internet giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.”
Sarah Clarke, Advocacy and Policy Officer at PEN International, said:
“An open internet is essential to ensuring the unhampered transmission of ideas between peoples around the world, the central mission of PEN. Free access to an open internet–now the most important medium for the transmission of ideas–is an integral part of freedom of expression and must be maintained in the face of moves to restrict access to serve narrow interests.”
Carolina Rossini, Vice President of International Policy at Public Knowledge, said:
“Public Knowledge is proud to support the global initiative, thisisnetneutrality.org. Net neutrality is important for all of the world’s internet users, and it is just as essential for countries with robust internet infrastructure as it is for those still building infrastructure. Being able to find common ground on net neutrality with organizations in North America, Europe, South America, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa helps demonstrate the need for us to continue fighting for strong net neutrality principles at home and help our partners abroad. Thisisnetneutrality.org will be an important resource hub for internet users and policymakers from the United States and around the world to understand net neutrality and make informed decisions on behalf of the open internet.”
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