For those who remember, around this time last year, members of the U.S. Congress debated SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). At the laws at the heart of the bills would have stuck down the open source world the Internet works off of. By raising attention to the issue, the international Internet community (fueled by Google and Wikipedia website blackout’s) defeated the bill. The defeat of both SOPA and PIPA promoted the Internet community to rejoice and for the time being, breathe easy. However, like every war, a single battle does not constitute the entirety of the fight. Roughly a year later, the U.N. is currently in congress seeking to revise, as “the father of the Internet” and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, Vint Cerf recently noted, a decades old treaty which could limit free speech across the Internet.
To spread the word on the U.N. conference taking place from November 3 – 14, Mr. Cerf wrote the following on Google’s offical blog:
“Starting in 1973, when my colleagues and I proposed the technology behind the Internet, we advocated for an open standard to connect computer networks together. This wasn’t merely philosophical; it was also practical.
Our protocols were designed to make the networks of the Internet non-proprietary and interoperable. They avoided “lock-in,” and allowed for contributions from many sources. This openness is why the Internet creates so much value today. Because it is borderless and belongs to everyone, it has brought unprecedented freedoms to billions of people worldwide: the freedom to create and innovate, to organize and influence, to speak and be heard.
But starting in a few hours, a closed-door meeting of the world’s governments is taking place in Dubai, and regulation of the Internet is on the agenda. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is convening a conference from December 3-14 to revise a decades-old treaty, in which only governments have a vote. Some proposals could allow governments to justify the censorship of legitimate speech, or even cut off Internet access in their countries.
You can read more about my concerns on CNN.com, but I am not alone. So far, more than 1,000 organizations from more than 160 countries have spoken up too, and they’re joined by hundreds of thousands of Internet users who are standing up for a free and open Internet. On an interactive map at freeandopenweb.com, you can see that people from all corners of the world have signed our petition, used the #freeandopen hashtag on social media, or created and uploaded videos to say how important these issues are.
If you agree and want to support a free and open Internet too, I invite you to join us by signing the petition at google.com/takeaction. Please make your voice heard and spread the word.”
As noted by Mr. Cerf, if you want to make your voice known, if you want to protect everything we in the Internet community cherish and hold dear, it is up to you to let the U.N. know your position. We here at Solar VPS believe in an open Internet. We believe in free speech across the Internet. We believe the Internet and the world is better off if the Internet is #FreeandOpen. Due to this, we have signed the pledge to keep the Internet #FreeandOpen. You can sign that pledge too, here.
In addition the signing the pledge, everyone who utilizes social media on a daily basis can make the U.N. hear our voices. By using the hashtag #FreeandOpen across your social media platform of choice, you can make your voice heard. You can tell the U.N., just as the Internet did to the U.S. Congress, that the Internet is great because it belongs to no one and everyone. What makes the Internet great is how open it is. We need to keep it that way. We need to speak up to protect it.
We spoke up. We signed the pledge. Now, it’s your turn.