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Internet Freedom (IF)

January 23, 2012
A friend once characterized Holland as a country where they have roundabouts PLUS traffic lights on busy intersections. So instead of choosing between ‘selforganization’ (leave it to drivers looking at each other P2P) OR ‘command & control’ (telling drivers what to do, watch & punish them when they are disobedient) some authorities in my country decided that it was safer to do both.
Is it a lack of faith in the civilians or an urge to over-organize? I do not know but the present policy discussions around our government about “Internet Access as a fundamental right” I have the impression that the same two mental states are overlapping again: is it a freedom or something provided by the national governement.
I think that we are here talking about Freedoms, which humans have only based on the fact that…they are human, so no authority “gives” them to the civilians, they already have them!!
IMHO the concept of Internet Freedom should be clearly defined and is wider than “the right to access Internet”
I propose the following definition:
IF InternetFreedom =
 A Freedom of Networkacces (ability to make connections [Verbinding],
      valuable according to Renan’s Law)
 B Freedom of online Expression (express observations&views, publicise, Sarnoff’s Law)
 C Freedom of digital Communication with other people    (dialog , Metcalfe’s Law)
 D Freedom of online Assembly  (formation of groups, Reed’s Law)
 E Freedom of constructive networked Cooperation across time
     and space  (synthese via network–> synergy, van Till’s Law)
Now it is important to recognize WHERE these freedoms reside. On Internet? In our country? In policy documents? No they reside between people’s ears. Cybernet is in our heads where nation state governments have no jurisdiction, as John Perry Barlow has declared years ago. In an often cited Amendment to the USA Constitution it was firmly declared by the founding fathers “that there should be no law describing or regulating (the content) of the press or other media” (my translation). ‘NO LAW’ written means: Government should be agnostic about what is said and written/communicated/discussed (A,B,C) about them and anything else. Most recent discussions about ‘Net Neutrality”, Democracy, Copyright (ACTA, SOPA) , Censorship and wiretapping in a lot of places not only in faraway places but also in places very near to you; have their roots in improper definition, improper understanding of these IF’s.
I consider them part of Human Rights and are a measure of civilisation in societies. Sure a number of objections and various other community priorities or circumstances may be said to overrule or overlap the IF’s but I do not agree.
The questions how to enforce the IF’s and by whom remains. Who will punish governments when they close cellphone networks or (international) internet traffic during civil unrest?? Other governments??
Until now the only working response was provided by other civilians who organized P2P grassroot bypasses to safeguard the health of the civil society on this planet. We are all part of one tribe.
jaap van till

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One Comment
  1. broodjejaap permalink

    Since the name BroodjeJaap does not catch on outside the Netherlands and Belgium, I continue writing my blogs at

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