Last week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Florida, the GOP proudly unveiled a new addition to their platform:
Protecting Internet Freedom
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 We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such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.
Most interestingly, the Libertarian Party has handily beat Republicans to the punch by more than two decades, having tackled the internet freedom message way back in 1991:
Stop Internet Censorship
Politicians are trying to take away your right to read what you want, and to say what you want.
The Internet is making it possible for new voices to be heard — the voices of people who simply could not afford to publish their ideas or display their artistic talents to a wide audience using older technologies. Established interests of both the left and the right fear new voices, and are trying to control what appears on the Internet through new laws and regulations.
America’s Founders couldn’t foresee the Internet, but they knew that government control of information was not only a violation of personal liberty — it was a threat to their hopes for a nation based on the principles of self-government. So they gave us the First Amendment.
The Libertarian Party carries on today in the tradition of the Founders:
- The Libertarian Party didn’t wait for the Internet to become popular to stand up for principle: The LP has always supported freedom of speech and the press, and has had language specifically supporting freedom of online communication in its Platform since 1991.
- The Libertarian Party joined with thousands of concerned Internet users in “turning its web pages black” in protest of President Clinton’s signing the unconstitutional “Communications Decency Act” in 1995.
- The Libertarian Party continues to speak out today against the attempts by Democrats and Republicans to find loop-holes in the First Amendment, so they can turn the Internet into a government-controlled medium.
Think about it: while the GOP has just given birth to a messy and still-diapered internet freedom policy, the LP’s plank is all grown up, growing a beard, and is old enough to drink.
Even for a totally empty rhetorical gesture, I suppose it’s better late than never.