Free and Open Internet
The “Internet” is not a glowing screen on your desk—it is a vast web of technical, digital, physical, personal, and business connections spanning the globe: a community. And in the truest sense, what happens online is just as real as anything that happens in your local neighborhood.
Like any community, the Internet is home to mostly good people, but also a few bad actors—some very bad.
Freedom, whether in our online communities or in our local neighborhoods, does not mean living without rules and without accountability to other members of the community. There is a word for that: anarchy.
The people who tend to thrive when there are no protections in place are criminals—the people who don’t care about hurting other people as long as they make a profit. True freedom is achieved when we recognize the balance between our own needs and desires and the needs of the people we interact with. We trade small limitations (driving 25 miles per hour in a residential zone, for example) for much bigger liberties (being able to walk down our streets and allow our children to play in our yards with much less likelihood that they will be hit by a speeding car).
We love the Internet; when we can use it safely, it expands our horizons and makes our daily lives better in amazing ways. But when we can’t use it safely, it’s no longer an open community. Putting the right protections in place online is a complex task, but working together we can achieve the right balance. The companies that run the Internet, companies like Google, have a particularly important role to play because they possess the technologies that are most likely to help limit criminal activity without infringing on the rights of good citizens. But they must be willing to do more than they’re currently doing. We all must be.
As Digital Citizens, we demand that the Internet be truly open and free—for good, well-intentioned people, not for the bad actors. We need commonsense rules and stronger technological safeguards that will disrupt the activities of online criminals without restricting the activities or privacy of legitimate consumers.
infographics: The Young and the Giftless