In recent years, a number of digital rights advocacy groups have sprung up to fight against what they see as government and corporate interference into their private lives on the Internet. Today, we can add one more to the bunch with the CitizenWeb Project.
So, what is the CitizenWeb Project? It's a group founded by Jacob Cook that fights for a "free, open, and above all a decentralized Internet." In short, the group wants to take back user data that has been collected by services like Facebook and put it back in the hands of the user. The project's other goal is to protect the people - like journalists, activists, muckrakers and whistleblowers - that they feel are under threat by massive data collection.
The CitizenWeb project has three missions that are "focused on giving the tools to each individual user to become an independent "citizen" of the Web - to decentralize their social networks and platforms, to become the TRUE owners of their data, and to communicate and network in security." These three missions are:
Agitate - The CitizenWeb Project is dedicated to spreading the word about the practices of the large and centralized web services industries, and exactly how they are dangerous for security, privacy, freedom of speech and freedom of ownership. It aims to reinforce the importance of online privacy to the general public, because you never know who could be watching or profiting off of your actions online.
Educate - It is important to bring these issues to light, but it is equally important to provide individuals with the keys to help fix the problem. The proliferation of free, open source and federated alternatives for the closed and centralized services we rely on is paramount. With proper education and access to the resources they need, users will have all they need to stand up for their digital rights and for a decentralized Internet.
Organize - The information and resources that we provide would be nothing without a strong and supportive community. We seek to bring like-minded individuals together to spread the word about the tools we provide and to help add and edit information based on the skills they have. We will work to provide technical support when possible for those who wish to reclaim their digital sovereignty. CitizenWeb also seeks to highlight and support independent developers that create open source tools that help build a decentralized web.
Other digital rights advocacy groups fight for many of the same things that CitizenWeb stands for, but this one may be a little more interesting. You see, the other groups call on Google, Facebook or other services to change their ways, but CitizenWeb is all about ditching those services. It's working to provide open source alternatives to the Internet services you use everyday.
Will it be easy to convince people to stop using Facebook or Google? Of course not, but it's a challenge that could very well produce some very interesting results in the coming year.