Commotion and the Declaration of Internet Freedom

2012-11-20 / OTI

Over the past few decades, networks have become as important as borders, strategies of inclusion as vital as policies of coercion, and governments everywhere are struggling with the fact that increased participation means relinquished control. The Declaration of Internet Freedom, written during the summer of 2012, comes at an important tipping point. Across the world, citizen expectations to participate in building a common future have outpaced governments’ ability to provide this shared destiny. Global dynamics are dramatically shifting. Nations the world over face a common dilemma: our top-down governance structures are incapable of building the kind of widespread social resilience that modern self-determination requires. The rise of a networked globe means that civil society—organizations and individuals outside of formal government—will play an increasingly powerful role in determining the future. The Declaration of Internet Freedom intends to help guide and bolster this important change. The Commotion project aims to create a free and open Internet, supporting the goals of the Declaration both in spirit and in practice. Commotion is an open source communication tool that uses common devices to create distributed, mesh networks. Commotion embodies the five Declaration principles in the following ways:

  • **“Expression: Don't censor the Internet”**

Commotion is a distributed system that aims to prevent ease of monitoring and censorship that is enabled by the centralized nature of conventional communications infrastructure. The need for this kind of dis-aggregated capacity to connect has been evident during the ongoing uprisings of the Middle East and North Africa. With Commotion, there is no possibility for a single power switch for use by a dictator that are increasing being seen on centralized systems around the world.

  • **“Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks”**

Commotion will be available to individuals using a wide range of technical devices—including mobile phones. The mesh system is decentralized and readily extensible which makes it inclusive by its very structure.

  • **“Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.”**

The freedom of humans to communicate is the paramount belief and motivation behind Commotion. The open source nature of the Commotion project also emphasizes our commitment to this principle in Commotion's creation and by freeing the code for innovation.

  • **“Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies and don’t punish innovators for their users' actions.”**

The world’s future depends on shared prosperity, which will require a default to openness and innovation at every level of human interaction. Commotion aims to create an open local network which innovators can extend and build upon to create novel applications that serve the needs of their communities.

  • **“Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used”**

Commotion is a global alliance of individuals and organizations, some of whom are exclusively dedicated to individual privacy and the prevention of unwanted intrusion and surveillance. A global capacity to prosper and to live a safe life may seem like an overwhelming ambition. Yet never before has humankind owned the tools that will allow us to immediately call upon each other for support to persevere through challenges, to adapt, change and grow. Our individual destinies are wrapped up in the destiny of life across the globe—the communications revolution has collapsed time and space, and has created both mayhem and empathy. The Commotion project intends to put in place an infrastructure that will democratize today’s communication. As governments struggle with a world where power is being rapidly redistributed out of formal institutions and into the hands of people, the developers of Commotion intend to work with other like minds who, together, will take these ingredients and help discover the alchemy of modern democracy.