Global Network Initiative gains steam
As concerns about freedom on the Internet grow, more organizations and activists are uniting in order to protect the rights of citizens.
Over a decade into the 21st century, it is safe to say that the next 100 years will be defined by the way in which the Internet integrates into the lives of people around the world. Despite being less than 50 years old, this network and the various technologies that use it have already made a huge impact on the world today. Be it through Facebook, in which a user can connect with someone on the other side of the globe, or Twitter – a social media outlet that has helped spur entire revolutions – the Internet has already left a huge impact on the world at large.
However, there are dangers that have emerged from the increasingly growing presence of this global network in people's everyday life. Information is becoming more available, which can have both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, businesses can better tailor their business models to their consumers, but on the other hand, there are a number of organizations that can access this information without a user's permission. This can come in the form of the often publicized hacker or cyberterrorist, but sometimes this access can come from a group one would not expect – the government.
Surveillance raises alarms
The Edward Snowden leaks and PRISM scandal is only the most recent incident that has raised concerns about the role the United States government has played in monitoring the Internet activity of American citizens. Conducted under the guise of homeland security, many people were outraged at just how invasive the program actually was with many comparing it to Big Brother from George Orwell's dystopia in "1984."
Thankfully, there are a number of organizations that have banned together in order to promote online freedom and stop such programs.
The Global Network Initiative
One of the biggest of defenders of Internet freedom has been the Global Network Initiative. The GNI operates as a collection of a number of different online entities that have an invested interest in keeping the web open to all users.
U.S. News and World Report explains that major Internet companies including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were major forces in the founding of the organization in 2009. It was created with the goal of managing global business policies and human rights standards while helping create a set of best practices that would be able to address government attempts to violate these rights.
After the PRISM scandal broke, the GNI actively campaigned to have this legislation changed through government reforms such as the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 and the Surveillance Order Reporting Act which would bring these programs under greater scrutiny.
"GNI has called for more transparency as a prerequisite for the necessary informed global public debate on the balance between national security and privacy and freedom of expression rights," Executive Direct Susan Morgan said in regard to this legislation.
"We look forward to working with Congress and the Executive branch to develop even stronger mechanisms to increase transparency and ensure that surveillance programs are subject to internationally recognized human rights laws and standards."
Because of the influence the GNI has in online policy and the action it has taken, a number of organizations have joined the cause. Among the most recent has been the professional social media outlet LinkedIn and PEN, an online advocacy group for free speech through literature.
The addition of both of these groups highlights how widespread the GNI is – from business networking to literature, the people who are invested in online freedom are diverse and ready to take action.