Today, on the eve of the 236th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence's adoption, two "Declarations of Internet Freedom" have been issued.
The first, spearheaded by Free Press, blurs the distinction between political and civil society while endorsing certain business models over others. The second, spearheaded by TechFreedom and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and available at DeclarationOfInternetFreedom.org, articulates a dynamic vision of Internet freedom and explains why policymakers must exercise humility and restraint in governing digital markets.
"We've worked with many of the groups signing the other Declaration on a range of issues, from SOPA to government invasions of privacy," said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. "We'll continue to make common cause with them against government overreach. But we need to underscore the profound philosophical differences behind our conceptions of Internet Freedom. Their declaration invites further government intervention in the name of freedom, while ours urges regulators: 'First, do no harm.'"
“We celebrate our unknown and unknowable future,” said Ryan Radia, associate director of the Center for Technology & Innovation at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Rather than enshrining particular consumer preferences, like ‘universal access,’ we focus on core principles like humility and respect for the rule of law. Our vision emphasizes what truly matters to Internet policymaking today: the process of technological evolution, not the end result.”
"We also differ deeply in our approaches to regulation," said Geoff Manne, Executive Director of the International Center for Law & Economics. "The costs of getting it wrong are so high that regulators should be reluctant to intervene. When they do act, they should start small, and measure regulation against evidence-based economic principles. Often, government’s best response is to do nothing, and competition resolves problems better, and faster, than government can."
Szoka, Radia, and Manne are available for comment at email@example.com. The full text of the of this declaration, and additional signatory organizations and individuals, are available at DeclarationOfInternetFreedom.org. Find/share this release on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.