For freedom to flourish, the Internet must be kept free of government control. The Internet needs to be kept free of corporate control, too. But, as we have seen with the DMCA, corporations that want to control the net have to do so by buying bad laws from the government — they can't jail or kill you themselves. Thus, the most important front in the battle is still heading off bad laws and regulations.

This battle needs to be fought on at least two fronts; technological (by developing technologies that empower individuals and put their activities and communications out of government reach) and political (by using provisions of the U.S.'s Constitution and analogous charters and traditions in other countries to head off government attempts to censor and control content).

I used to fight this battle as an individual. Then after 1997 I became famous and founded the Open Source Initiative. OSI's charter is the promotion of open-source software, but that not infrequently involves speaking out on network-freedom issues.

Here are some things I've been doing to support freedom:

Promoting PGP

PGP NOW! image You can fetch my GPG public key here. I support widespread use of strong cryptography for privacy, and encourage you to use GPG encryption with this key when sending me messages. If your mailer makes this difficult, consider switching to Mutt.

Keeping DeCSS available

As a public service and act of civil disobedience, we are proud to offer the DeCSS code that will allow you to circumvent the encryption on the DVDs you own. Your DVD, your hardware, your choice! (Please do not ask me technical questions about this code; I have never used it.)

I helped kill the Communications Decency Act

I appeared as a friend of court in a Brief of Amici Curiae submitted by Schnader Harrison Siegel and Lewis on March 20th 1996, supporting these ACLU/ALA lawsuit against the "Communications Decency Act". I argued against the CDA on the grounds that its provisions would destroy small, volunteer-run community networks, such as Chester County InterLink which I co-founded. This brief was part of the official case documents. A snapshot of my home page was included in the attached exhibit of evidence!

One June 11th 1996, the District Court's three-judge panel found for plaintiffs, unanimously ruling the CDA unconstitutional in a very strongly worded opinion. The DOJ appealed. SHL&S filed an updated brief opposing the DOJ in which I was again listed as an individual party.

The Supreme Court heard the case and on June 26 1997 strongly upheld the lower court ruling, giving Internet speech the strongest possible First Amendment protection.

I am proud to have been involved in these victories for free speech.

I helped keep netphone technology from being strangled

On March 8, 1996, the America's Carriers Telecommunication Association (ACTA) requested a declaratory ruling, special relief, and institution of a rulemaking procedure with regard to so-called "Net-Phone" services; software and hardware which permit voice transmission between any two Internet hosts using Internet TCP/IP transmission as a medium. ACTA requests that the FCC immediately put a stop to this activity pending the installation of what it deems an appropriate regulatory regime.

This attempt to actively involve the FCC in regulation of Internet content and control of Internet media must be stopped, both because it's bad in itself and because it proposes a dangerous precedent for government intrusion into Internet activity.

More information is available at the following Web reference: including a copy of the ACTA petition and of the FCC's solicitation for comments. How to submit comments by email is also explained.

You can read my open letter to the FCC commissioners demolishing ACTA's petition point-by-point and urging FCC to keep its hands off the Internet.

(The FCC has not acted on RM8775 and, as of January 1997, it appears dead.)

You can also read my 26 Oct 1996 Open Letter To The Chairman Of The FCC urging a market-centered, non-interventionist telecommunications policy and opposing government-run Internet programs.

Please inform the Commissioners of your views on this issue.

I have opposed calls for metering the Internet

See my letter to The Economist.

I am an active Libertarian

If you are a U.S. citizen, and you think freedom is worth extending, both on and off the net, please consider joining the national Libertarian Party and your state affiliate.

Internet technology has huge libertarian implications. I believe broad availability of Internet access, and thorough exploitation of its function as an electronic spot market, may someday be a major factor in the obsolescence of government itself.