WASHINGTON, December 9, 2014 – The Media Institute announced a new initiative on November 24 aimed to protect the group’s view of internet freedoms around the world. Entitled Global Free Speech and the Internet, this program will be “guided by a number of underlying principles, based on the belief that the internet should be an open and interoperable platform, largely free from government intrusion, where information can be shared freely.”
“The ‘Global Free Speech and the Internet’ program will be a forceful advocate for global free speech online,” the group said.
Chaired by former Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell, aims to halt government-centric models of internet governance that control online speech.
Michael Miller, assistant professor of Political Science at George Washington University, told Broadband Breakfast that he sees the program’s mission of “promoting free speech on the internet and free access to information…as empowering individuals to push for the system of government they like best.”
Free speech and an open internet are tenants of democracies, but continue to be the point of contention between democratic governments and journalists. In the annual World Press Freedom index, the U.S. ranked 46 for 2014, dropping 14 spots since the previous year.
With an audacious goal of “combating centralized control of the internet,” it bears noting that since most of the world’s internet traffic goes through the U.S. and Europe, since eleven out of the thirteen tier 1 internet companies that make up the backbone reside within the U.S. and Europe.
Since revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, many countries have become uneasy with amount of control that U.S. companies have over the internet. In late 2013, Brazil even announced plans to distance ties from the United States. It appears that the country is slowly following through with the effort.