This is too important not to post. Recently, Brett Solomon, the co-founder and Executive Director of AccessNow.org wrote an open letter to the top tech executives imploring them to stand behind a free, open, and neutral Internet.
Here’s are the main points of the letter:
1. Encryption and government hacking
It’s time to end the “crypto wars”. It has become abundantly clear that strong encryption is vital to human rights, digital security, and economic development. Moreover, government hacking carries its own risks to privacy and personal property.
Please advocate that President-Elect Trump work with civil society and law enforcement to help address the issues faced by law enforcement in the digital era without weakening encryption and without compelled assistance from providers. This could be supported by rules that make clear the rights and responsibilities of law enforcement when engaged in government hacking.
2. Network Neutrality
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved rules to promote net neutrality. This was a benefit to free expression, innovation, and the open internet. Other countries now look to the U.S. for leadership on this issue, and the European Union and India have followed the U.S.’s lead. But it appears, from media reports, that the Trump Administration may seek to undermine the FCC rules.
Please advocate that President-Elect Trump not undermine the core internet function by undoing or subverting net neutrality rules and to engage all stakeholders before making critical decisions about the future of the internet.
3. Internet Shutdowns
Access Now has helped document more than 50 internet shutdowns around the world this year. This is more than double our recorded number for the previous year. The U.N. Human Rights Council has condemned shutdowns, and so have several of your companies.
Please advocate that President-Elect Trump denounce internet shutdowns and hold other governments to account by directing development aid and connectivity programs to countries that keep the internet on.
4. Vulnerability Disclosure
We need to create a viable system for disclosing vulnerabilities in software and infrastructure. Currently, the National Security Agency stockpiles vulnerabilities in code in order to be able to utilize them against other countries or to respond to threats to the U.S. But these vulnerabilities can fall into the wrong hands or be independently discovered and used to harm users.
Please advocate for President-Elect Trump to support a law to limit how long the government holds this information that includes a process for responsibly informing companies and the public when vulnerabilities are discovered or purchased.
5. Surveillance Reform
The U.S. operates the strongest, most well-funded surveillance apparatus in history. The National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and even state and local police forces collect copious information about user movements, habits, and acquaintances. It is time to scale back the collection and recognize that people outside the U.S. also have human rights and should not be spied on indiscriminately or without oversight, checks and balances, and other limitations.
Please advocate for President-Elect Trump to support the protection of human rights of all people in surveillance programs and practices. This must include support for the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance and support for legislation to make permanent Presidential Policy Directive 28, which recognizes the basic dignity and privacy interests of all people.
6. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Online
Governments are increasingly concerned that terrorist networks are using the internet, and social media in particular, as a tool to help recruit and spread propaganda. A path forward can’t trample on our privacy and other human rights with programs that lack transparency, effective redress, or accountability. Undue government pressure on social media companies to police and remove content will not result in effective or appropriate solutions.
Please advocate for President-Elect Trump to not pressure companies to remove or police content outside lawful processes and to ensure government CVE programs comply with human rights standards.
7. Connectivity and Internet Freedom
Billions of people lack access to the 21st century’s essential global forum for expression, communication, information, innovation, and wealth creation. The U.S. is currently leading the Global Connect Initiative, which aims to bring online 1.5 billion people. We must ensure that this development continues and is consistent with human rights connectivity principles.