Op-Ed: Fighting Internet Suppression, Gov't Spying, ISP Content-Bias

BY CCIA Staff
September 19, 2008

As appears in The Hill
September 18, 2008
OneWeb Day, Sept. 22, is the third anniversary of the “Earth Day” for Internet users. It’s a day to consider what business models, technical tools and governmental policies help the Internet – and what threats are lurking.
Three threats to Internet freedom are worth noting on OneWeb Day. The first is the temptation to filter Internet content for what most agree are good causes, curbing terrorism, child pornography, gambling, and copyright piracy. However, the Internet could die a death by a thousand cuts if Internet Service Providers must turn over customer records or cut their access whenever a government has a good reason.
That leads to the second threat, government spying. George Orwell’s vision of an all-seeing, government-controlled “telescreen” in every home and office is no longer fiction.
The size and scope of the U.S. government’s surveillance of electronic communications is largely unknown. Congress effectively granted a cloak of secrecy when it renewed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act with retroactive immunity for telecom carriers who turned over customer records. The move essentially blocks 40 lawsuits that would have shed light on this allegedly illegal activity.
Business models proposed by big ISPs designed to charge websites more for faster service or steer users to content based on business deals are a third major threat. The Internet has historically been content neutral and net neutrality is what has made the Internet so great for innovation and communication. Sure, big ISPs might make a few million dollars more without net neutrality, but at what cost to innovation and online freedom?
We hope OneWebDay launches a serious discussion on common principles essential for Internet freedom. When policies impacting the Internet are considered, we need a consistent ethic so the Internet remains a tool for openness and freedom, not control and repression.

Related Articles

CCIA Recommendations on Canada’s Online News Act Ahead of Committee Hearing

Sep 23, 2022

Washington — The Heritage Committee in the House of Commons of Canada will meet at a  hearing on Friday afternoon to discuss Bill C-18, dubbed “the Online News Act.” The bill would require large “digital news intermediaries” including search engines and social media platforms to pay Canadian news companies to index their content or to…

CCIA Statement on Florida’s Petition To U.S. Supreme Court In Social Media Law Case

Sep 21, 2022

Washington – Florida has filed a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to hear the case challenging its social media law, which an appeals court struck down in May as unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled unanimously in a 3-0 decision that Florida’s social media censorship law violated the First…

CCIA Offers Comments to USTR on Proposed U.S.-Kenya Trade Partnership

Sep 16, 2022

Washington — The Computer & Communications Industry Association filed comments with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on its proposed U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade & Investment Partnership, providing recommendations to boost and support digital trade between the two countries.  CCIA welcomes the Biden Administration’s desire to expand trade opportunities with Kenya and encourages the United…