Democrats & Republicans include Internet freedom in their party platforms. A UN agency’s attempts to control the Internet pose a threat to freedom of information worldwide. Updates on these issues and more in Media Democracy Fund’s quarterly newsletter.
Hot Topic: International Internet Governance
International governance of the Internet has become a critical topic, as a UN agency known as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) moves to expand its authority to include control over the Internet. The ITU is a relatively closed, non-transparent body in which only governments can participate (civil society groups and businesses are left out). If the ITU takes control of the Internet, autocratic regimes like Russia and China would have much better positioning to control Internet content. Advocates around the world, including MDF grantees Access, Global Partners, Public Knowledge and others are organizing against potential threats that this shift in governance could bring.
Internet Freedom Plank Approved in Republican & Democrat Party Platforms
For the first time ever, both major political parties in the U.S. have included language in their party platforms that addresses the issue of Internet freedom. While neither platform is robust enough to heartily promise the protections needed on a broad range of Internet-related issues, the inclusion of this plank is an excellent signifier of the growing strength of Internet users as a political constituency. In an effort parallel to the party platforms, advocates including Free Press, Electronic Frontier Foundation, ACLU, and CREDO are collecting endorsements from thousands of organizations and individuals to a set of principles called the Declaration of Internet Freedom.
Registering Internet Users to Vote their Interests
A new online voter registration campaign led by Fight for the Future and Personal Democracy Media aims to further develop the political potency of the Internet user constituency. The effort, called The Internet Votes with Friends, will organize thousands of Internet sites to register a million voters. Innovative tech tools will allow users to track friends who haven’t yet registered, to make sure their friends vote on election day, and to join voting blocks for specific issues.
Internet Votes Web Site
Anti-Muslim Video on YouTube Raises Policy Concerns
A video mocking Islam, posted to YouTube by an amateur American film maker, sparked protests last week in countries across the globe. The video and reactions to it offered a chance to look at complicated questions of the boundaries of free expression, the definition of hate speech, the gatekeeping role held by companies like Google (owner of YouTube), and the power struggle between governments and companies around censorship. Groups including Access, the ACLU, and Electronic Frontier Foundation have weighed in on the difficult issues of corporate and government communications policy raised by this incident.
Health Care and Technology
This summer, director of MDF Helen Brunner authored an important opinion piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that highlights the direct impact of technology policy on health care. The piece raises questions like, since the U.S. currently has no real online-privacy policies, how will we ensure that medical records will be kept secure and that patients won’t be tracked online without their permission? And what about the patients and providers who don’t have have reliable and fast Internet access that allows them to take advantage of a modernized health-care system?
Save the Date! National Conference for Media Reform
Scheduled for April 5-7, 2013, in Denver, this major biennial event delves into topics including how technology is changing the world; the policies and politics shaping our media; the future of journalism and public media; and strategies to build the movement for better media. Mark your calendars and plan to join us in a funder delegation to this exciting event.