NDN Backgrounder: Internet Freedom

We at NDN have long been leaders in this conversation around how the internet and the global communications network can be a force for freedom. In 2007, in the introduction to A Laptop in Every Backpack, Simon Rosenberg and Alec Ross wrote:

We believe it should be a core priority of the United States to ensure that all the world’s people have access to this global network and have the tools to use it for their own life success. There is no way any longer to imagine free societies without the freedom of commerce, expression, and community, which this global network can bring. Bringing this network to all, keeping it free and open and helping people master its use must be one of the highest priorities of those in power in the coming years.

Since releasing that paper in 2007, we have written a great deal more on these subjects, and we have assembled below some of our best work on the subject. For future commentary, be sure to check Global Mobile, our blog about the power of connectivity and technology. Enjoy:

  • Recap: Advancing the Global Free Flow of Information 07/23/10 by Sam duPont
    We hosted a great conversation here at NDN on internet freedom and the global free flow of information featuring Daniel Calingaert, Deputy Director of Programs at Freedom House, and Anita Ramasastry of the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.
  • Phony Democracy and the Internet's Influence 7/6/10 by Sam duPont
    A new model of authoritarianism offers developing nations the trappings of democracy with the tight control of a dictatorship. But internet and mobile networks make it harder for governments to live in that middle ground, and will force countries to choose to be truly open or closed.

  • Pakistan Quashing Net Freedoms, Citizens Speaking Out 5/20/10 by Sam duPont
    Sam responds to Pakistan's censorship of Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and Flickr, looking at the action taken by some of the Pakistani tech-elites, and what this assault of web freedom means for the world.

  • Alec Ross on How the Internet Will Shape Open and Closed Societies 4/13/10 by Sam duPont
    Alec Ross, Senior Adviser on Innovation to Secretary Clinton, spoke at NDN on the power of connection technologies to help define and alter the fault line between open and closed societies in the 21st century.

  • China's Censorship and Information Freedom 1/26/10 by Sam duPont
    After the vitriolic response to Secretary Clinton's speech on internet freedom by China, Sam argues that even if our words can’t improve the situation in China, it is crucial that we stand up for freedom of information.

  • Clinton Stands Up for Internet Freedom 1/21/10 by Sam duPont
    Following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's address on Internet Freedom, Sam duPont recaps the speech and offers commentary on her aggressive stance against censorship and in support of unfettered internet access around the world.

  • Question for the Week 1/18/10 by Sam duPont
    Sam reflects on recent statements by President Obama that begin to lay out a liberal worldview, and asks whether we can continue business-as-usual with China, given recent events.
  • Are Free and Open Societies in Retreat? 1/17/10 by Simon Rosenberg
    Simon responds to a recent essay in the Economist that sees global challenges to liberty, and observes that the great battles of the 21st century will be open vs. closed, rather than left vs. right.
  • Reflections on 21st Century Statecraft 1/15/10 by Sam duPont
    One year into President Obama's first term, Sam duPont looks at "21st Century Statecraft," one of this administration's defining foreign policy initiatives so far, and identifies the actions that have comprised this initiative.
  • Should Access to Mobile Networks be a Universal Right? 12/21/09 by Simon Rosenberg
    Looking at the Administration's recent commitment to protection of human rights in Iran, Simon asks whether—in an age when we use our mobile phones to do so much—we should consider access to our devices and networks a universal right.
  • Twitter, Iran, and More: Impressions from the Front Lines of the Global Media Revolution
    7/15/09: with Nico Pitney, Eric Jaye, and Theo Yedinsky
    In this discussion of the role of Twitter in politics and media, we hosted Nico Pitney, the Huffington Post reporter who brought the voices of Iranian protesters out into the open, and Eric Jaye and Theo Yedinsky of Gavin Newsom’s groundbreaking gubernatorial campaign in California.
    Video: Nico Pitney
    Video: Eric Jaye & Theo Yedinsky
    Video: Q&A
  • Alec Ross, Tom Kalil & Tim Wirth on the Power of Mobile 6/26/09
    NDN co-hosted the release of a new paper jointly published by the UN Foundation and the Vodaphone Foundation examining the potential for mobile technology to improve healthcare delivery in the developing world. Speaking at the event were Alec Ross, Tom Kalil, and former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth. Simon Rosenberg hosted the discussion.
    Transcript: Simon Rosenberg (intro)
    Video: Alec Ross
    Video: Tom Kalil
    Video: Senator Tim Wirth
    Video: Simon Rosenberg (interview)
  • Obama: No Realist He 6/16/09 by Simon Rosenberg
    Simon argues that, given who President Obama is and what he represents, he does not have the option to become a foreign policy realist. Instead, he must become a chief global advocate of free and open societies.
  • Harnessing the Mobile Revolution 10/8/08 By Tom Kalil
    Tom Kalil, now Deputy Policy Director of Science and Technology at the White House, authored a paper for the New Policy Institute analyzing the power of mobile to create economic growth, better public health, and stronger democracies in the developing world.
    PDF: Harnessing the Mobile Revolution
  • The Power of Mobile 4/14/08 by Simon Rosenberg
    On the heels of stories about the potential of mobile technology to help fuel protests, Simon asks what power mobile phones can have to fight poverty, as well.
  • A Global Recession for Democracies? 3/8/08 by Simon Rosenberg
    Despite a global optimism about the spread of democracy, Simon notes that it has faced challenges and setbacks in recent years.
  • A Laptop in Every Backpack 05/01/07 By Alec Ross and Simon Rosenberg
    Alec Ross, now Senior Adviser on Innovation to Secretary of State Clinton, co-authored this paper with Simon, in which they argued that connectivity to the global information network is an essential part of life in the 21st century, and called for the deployment of netbooks to prepare our children for this new world.
    PDF: A Laptop in Every Backpack
    Video: Alec Ross