Intellectual freedom is worth fighting for

Democracy is built upon the hope of women and men to live freely as individuals in a society that holds the promise of liberty and justice for all. In the digital age, intellectual freedom at the heart of a democratic society necessitates advancing free expression, security, privacy, creativity and open access to knowledge.

Freedom of expression means that people should be able to say what is on their minds to any person will listen without fear of reprisal or retribution. Expression entails both thoughts and speech, as well as freedom of the press, access to information and honest government transparency.

Security means that technology should be reliable and responsive to its users, which requires competence, honesty, confidence and trustworthiness. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that false speech enjoys full First Amendment protection but professional opinions, commercial speech, and court testimony are not considered public discourse and so are more subject to regulation.

Technology must allow users to decide what to share with whom and to protect privacy and anonymous speech. Congressional Republicans voted to strip Americans of their privacy by allowing Internet service providers to collect and sell customers’ data without consent.

By allowing people to build on the imagination, ideas and inventions of others, technology will enable progress and promote new discovery, innovation and creation. Most innovations are evolutionary changes to existing processes, uses, or functions, which are made better by one or several contributing inventions.

Access to knowledge is critical to freedom and progress. Curiosity should be rewarded, not stifled, as this is fundamental to the principles of justice, freedom, and economic development. The right to participate in the creation, distribution, and acquisition of raw information, secondary analyses of data, and knowledge-embedded tools and services will impact on development and civil liberties.

We must uphold these principles by demanding transparency and freedom in culture, code, and law.

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