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Building Trust Human Rights Identity Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Open Internet Standards Privacy

Internet Community Collaboration Forges Strong Links in Global ‘Chain of Trust’

Tomorrow, 11 February, a day of activism has been organized by a coalition of influential organizations and companies taking a stand against mass surveillance. Collectively, The Day We Fight Back is doing two important things: making the somewhat abstract topic of Internet governance more accessible to the online user, and—even more importantly—giving everyday Internet users a role in the debate, encouraging them to engage with their legislators on the issues, and make their voices heard.

Last year, the Internet Society Board of Trustees endorsed the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance from the civil society-led “Necessary and Proportionate” initiative, as they were closely aligned with the Internet Society’s own principles. The Internet Society is also part of the OpenStand movement, which is dedicated to promoting a proven set of principles for open and transparent standards development processes for end-to-end global Internet interoperability. These same principles are an important element in restoring confidence in cryptographic standards, and the protocols, applications, and services that depend on them.

The Day We Fight Back initiative, which honors the memory and work of Internet Hall of Fame inductee Aaron Swartz, is also demonstrating the importance of large-scale cooperation, collaboration, and organization among multiple Internet stakeholders that share a collective vision. The value of this kind of unified effort cannot be overstated: the future of a free and open Internet relies on the willingness of the Internet community in every part of the globe to come together to work for this important cause. The inclusion of all stakeholders is a crucial part of this process; it ensures all perspectives are adequately represented, thus strengthening the Internet’s chain of trust.

The value of this kind of unified effort cannot be overstated: the future of a free and open Internet relies on the willingness of the Internet community in every part of the globe to come together to work for this important cause

Progress is already being made within and across stakeholder communities on a variety of technical and policy initiatives that share the common goals of:

  1. striving to protect Internet users’ communications from unwarranted monitoring and interception;
  2. restoring trust in the Internet, its technologies, applications, and services.

    It’s important that these initiatives do not become isolated islands, but rather grow outward and interconnect to explore points of commonality and difference.  

There are many other initiatives that have emerged from all parts of the global community in response to concerns about privacy and mass surveillance (see the partial list below), and there is still much work to be done. The global community must make a commitment not just to fight for a free and open Internet, but to form a unified front in this battle.

For privacy, this means working together to develop strong, ethical principles concerning the collection and handling of Internet users’ data and metadata so that users’ privacy rights and expectations will be honored—regardless of nationality or location.  But the job doesn’t end there: we must also work together to ensure the continued collaborative stewardship of the Internet architecture itself, so that we can ensure the growth and accessibility of the network for generations to come.

 

Photo: ©  iStockphoto / photovideostock