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Internet freedom, cybersecurity land in 2012 Democratic National Platform

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As expected, the Democrats have included “Internet freedom” as one of the party’s many primary provisions in the 2012 Democratic National Platform. “Cybersecurity” is also included in the platform, released late Monday ahead of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which kicks off in Charlotte, North Carolina, today.

Inclusion of Internet freedom in the Democrats’ platform was first revealed by President Barack Obama during his “Ask Me Anything” public interview on Reddit last week. Obama’s revelation came soon after the GOP released its own stance on Internet freedom in the 2012 Republican Party Platform.

While the Republicans focused on how they plan to address open Internet issues in the future — through opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s Net neutrality rules, opposition to changes in the Internet governance model through the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and support for civil liberties and personal privacy on the Web — the Democrats instead vaguely outline what the Obama administration has already done to preserve the open Internet, along with further promises to oppose “the extension of intergovernmental controls” of the Internet through the ITU.

Here is the Democrats’ Internet freedom position, in full:

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.

In another part of the Democrats’ platform, entitled “Out-innovating the Rest of the World,” the party makes these key assertions:

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.

The administration is vigorously protecting U.S. intellectual property – our technology and creativity – at home and abroad through better enforcement and innovative approaches such as voluntary efforts by all parties to minimize infringement while supporting the free flow of information…. As technology advances, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to protect the security of the nation and its knowledge assets, U.S. intellectual property, the functioning of fair and competitive markets, and the privacy, free expression, and due process rights of Americans.

For comparison, here is the GOP’s Internet freedom stance:

The Internet has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human 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 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.

In addition to the issue of Internet freedom, the Democrats also outlined its efforts to establish robust cybersecurity measures, and reiterated it support for cybersecurity legislation put forth by Congress this year, but which has so far failed to pass through the full lawmaking process.

The Democrats’ plank on cybersecrity reads:

Cybersecurity threats represent one of the most serious potential national security, public safety, and economic challenges we face. The very technologies that empower use to lead and create also empower individual criminal hackers, organized criminal groups, terrorist networks, and other advanced nations to disrupt the critical infrastructure that is vital to our economy, commerce, public safety, and military. Defending against cyber threats requires networks that are secure, trustworthy, and resilient. The President and the administration have taken unprecedented steps to defend America from cyber attacks, including creating the first military command dedicated to cybersecurity and conducting a full review of the federal government’s efforts to protect our information and our infrastructure. We will continue to take steps to deter, prevent, detect, and defend against cyber intrusions, by investing in cutting-edge research and development, promoting cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy, and strengthening private sector and international partnerships. President Obama has supported comprehensive cybersecurity legislation that would help business and government protect against risks of cyber attacks while also safeguarding the privacy rights of our citizens. And, going forward, the President will continue to take executive action to strengthen and update our cyber defenses.

All in all, the Democrats’ positions on these pertinent topics is neither surprising nor particularly impressive, from a Web user’s point of view. In fact, my personal opinion is that the Democrats should have said far more about Internet freedom, and taken a much more pointed stance on protecting Web users privacy and personal liberty on the Internet. They hint at it, but we need more than just hints.

This post has been updated with additional segments of the Democrats’ platform.

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