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Democratic Party Platform Touches on Internet Freedom

On the eve of the kickoff of their 2012 National Convention, the Democrats released their official party platform. And just like the Republicans did in their official platform, they’ve included ...
Democratic Party Platform Touches on Internet Freedom
Written by Josh Wolford
  • On the eve of the kickoff of their 2012 National Convention, the Democrats released their official party platform. And just like the Republicans did in their official platform, they’ve included a small segment concerning “Internet Freedom.”

    It looks like the three main tenets of the Democrats’ internet strategy concern unfettered information flow, IP protection, and privacy. Here’s what they have to say about Internet Freedom, as a subsection in the “Advancing Universal Values” platform:

    The Obama administration has led the world to recognize and defend Internet freedom – the freedom of expression, assembly, and association online for people everywhere – through coalitions of countries and by empowering individuals with innovative technologies. The administration has built partnerships to support an Internet that is secure and reliable and that is respectful of U.S. intellectual property, free flow of information, and privacy. To preserve the Internet as a platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation in the 21st century, we successfully negotiated international Internet policymaking principles, support the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and oppose the extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet.

    Earlier in the platform, the party highlights what they feel are examples of the Obama administration’s efforts to protect user privacy – the launch of the Internet Privacy Bill of Rights and the encouragement of Do Not Track options. They also tout the President’s commitment to giving most of the country access to high-speed, secure, and reliable internet:

    “President Obama has committed to ensuring that 98 percent of the country has access to high-speed wireless broadband Internet access. We are finding innovative ways to free up wireless spectrum and are building a state-of-the-art nationwide, interoperable, public safety network. President Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice, and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations of privacy,” they say.

    Of course, the “protection of IP” part of the platform is likely to receive a mixed response from internet activists. The platform states that the administration is “vigorously protecting U.S. intellectual property,” but maintains that they are doing so in a way that also supports the free flow of information.

    This marks the first time in our nation’s history that both major parties have included language in support of internet freedom in their official platforms. Here’s what the Republicans had to say last week:

    The Internet has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance inhuman history. Its independence is its power. The Internet offers a communications system uniquely free from government intervention. We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of voice video data [sic] as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem.

    We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations. We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties; the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector.

    As you can see, the parties’ stances on internet freedom accurately reflect their core party philosophies. While the Democrats talk about government stepping in to protect user privacy, the Republicans emphasize the removal of regulations and protection from “governmental overreach.”

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