The popular microblogging site Twitter released its first transparency report this week. Photo licensed CC by Andreas Eldh.
Welcome to our weekly series, highlighting the most newsworthy events under the Open Technology Initiative’s three key areas: Freedom of Expression, Telecom Policy, and Privacy and Security. Contact us with story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freedom of Expression: Public Interest Groups Issue Declaration of Internet Freedom
As America celebrated its independence this week, a broad coalition of public interest groups issued a Declaration of Internet Freedom,establishing principles for future internet policy based on openness and access. The document was signed by over 100 groups and individuals, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the Open Technology Institute. It was designed to be broad and high level, so that groups across the political spectrum would embrace its message, authors of the document explained after its release.
The Declaration outlines five basic principles for a free and open internet:
- Expression: Don’t censor the internet.
- Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
- Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.
- Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users' actions.
- Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.
One of the main goals of the document is to spark discussion among individuals and organizations who can interact with and help shape it going forward. The preamble states, “Let’s discuss these principles — agree or disagree with them, debate them, translate them, make them your own and broaden the discussion with your community — as only the Internet can make possible.” Individuals can sign the declaration on Save the Internet and other sites.
Read more about the release of the Declaration of Internet Freedom.
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Privacy and Security: Twitter Releases Transparency Report
Twitter unveiled its first transparency report on Monday, following the lead of companies like Google, which released its own data in June for the fifth time. According to a statement by Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s legal policy manager, the goal of the report is to illuminate government requests for user information, government requests to withhold content, and DMCA takedown notices from copyright holders.
Among other things, the data shows that the United States is the leader in the number of requests for information and takedown notices issued by the government. Generally, the trends show that the number of government requests directed at the micro-blogging site is on the rise. In the first half of 2012, Twitter got more requests than it did in the entire year of 2011.
The report also details whether the company responds to these inquiries, revealing that Twitter provides information about 63% of the time overall, although that percentage is significantly higher when dealing with the US government.
Read more about Twitter’s new transparency report.
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Telecom Policy: Verizon Urges Court to Scrap Net Neutrality Rules
Verizon filed a legal brief with the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Monday in opposition to the FCC’s new network neutrality rules. The telecom giant argued that the FCC lacks the legal authority to regulate ISPs, and, moreover, that the rules violate both the First and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution.
Last year, Verizon sued to stop the implementation of net neutrality rules adopted by the FCC in 2010, arguing that Congress has not given the FCC the authority to dictate ISPs' control over the content that flows across their networks. Even if Congress had authorized the Commission to do so, the company claims that the institution of net neutrality rules would violate their right to free speech and constitute an invasion of private property. The brief compares network neutrality rules to the seizure of private property and "the equivalent of a permanent easement on private broadband networks for the use of others without just compensation."
Read more about Verizon’s net neutrality brief.
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