8 Great Organizations Fighting to Stop Online Censorship
When broken down to its most basic elements, the internet is simply a forum for free expression. Unfortunately, various governments, religious groups and other organizations around the world are attempting to police the free exchange of ideas online.
Thankfully, there are many organizations working hard to keep the internet open, accessible and uncensored. Here are eight great organizations that support net neutrality and are fighting to stop online censorship.
Save the Internet
Save the Internet is a coalition that has brought together millions of people and thousands of organizations and businesses to protect freedom on the internet. Believing an open internet is crucial to the right of free speech, the organization’s mission is to urge Congress to preserve net neutrality and ensure the internet remains an open place for innovation and the exchange of ideas.
The organization promotes public awareness of threats to net neutrality and has often been able to urge people to action in huge numbers. Online petitions created by Save the Internet have gathered as many as 1.9 million signatures.
Global Network Initiative
The Global Network Initiative’s stated mission is to “protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy” in information and communications technologies. It is made up of a diverse group of companies, civil society organizations, human rights organizations, press freedom groups, investors and academics. The group includes people from more than 120 countries around the world.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes protecting access to developing technology is central to advancing freedom for everyone. The organization was founded in 1990 and works to defend civil liberties around the world through litigation, policy development, education and activism. Their main focus areas are free speech, fair use, technological innovation, privacy, international access and transparency.
Since its inception, EFF has taken on and prevailed against opponents such as the federal government, the Federal Communications Commission and various other national and global companies. They have achieved landmark court victories on issues such as protecting free speech and preserving online privacy.
National Coalition Against Censorship
The mission of the National Coalition Against Censorship is “to promote freedom of thought, inquiry and expression and oppose censorship in all its forms.” NCAC is made up of a growing alliance of nonprofit groups that support First Amendment rights. It is a national group that often works locally to help resolve censorship controversies in places such as libraries, museums and schools. The group also advocates for public policies supporting First Amendment rights on local, state and national levels.
The NCAC has various outreach programs to promote free expression in many different ways. For example, through the Kids’ Right to Read Project, the organization has defended hundreds of titles against school and library censorship. They have fought, and in many cases won, battles in almost every state in the U.S.
Center for Democracy and Technology
The Center for Democracy and Technology is a nonprofit that strives to be “a champion of global online civil liberties and human rights, driving policy outcomes that keep the internet open, innovative and free.” They work toward this goal by bringing together leaders and experts to advocate for policy changes in the public sector and industry best practices in the private sector. Their current focus areas include consumer privacy, free expression, and government privacy and security issues.
The group Article 19 takes its name from the 19th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations adopted the declaration in 1948. Article 19 reads, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
The nonprofit group Article 19 has a goal to “defend the right to freedom of expression and freedom of information.” The group was started in 1987 and works with people around the world to ensure everyone has the right to express themselves freely. It is based in the United Kingdom and has offices in Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Tunisia and Senegal.
International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)
The International Freedom of Expression Exchange is a network of organizations dedicated to “defending and promoting freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.” On both a local and global scale, the organizations in the network work together to address issues such as open access to information, attacks on free speech, censorship, preservation of digital rights, freedom of assembly and laws about free expression.
The IFEX has a proven track record of fighting for online rights and defending activists around the world. In the past year alone, they’ve battled against state-sponsored surveillance in Romania, fought to protect the safety of journalists in Paraguay and defeated anti-blasphemy laws in Jordan.
Fight for the Future
Fight for the Future is a nonprofit organization. Founded in 2011, their focus is on “expanding the internet’s transformative power for good while preserving and enhancing its capacity to enrich and empower.” This group works to create a reality where everyone in the world can access the internet affordably and do so without interference or censorship. They often leverage the power of the internet to organize online protests for issues surrounding net neutrality and online privacy.
In 2012, Fight for the Future organized the largest online protest in history to combat proposed legislation that would undermine online privacy. Over 115,000 websites joined the online protest while large in-person demonstrations were simultaneously executed in major cities across the country. Additionally, online petitions gathered more than 14 million signatures in opposition. The legislation was ultimately defeated.
If net neutrality and an open internet are important to you, there are plenty of ways you can get involved and support these organizations.
- Volunteer: Like any nonprofit, many of these organizations are hungry for volunteers to support their missions. To find volunteer opportunities, try a website such as org to locate organizations in your area that need your support.
- Speak Out: Awareness is the key to bringing about change on nearly any problem in the world. If you’re interested in issues related to free speech online, then speak up about. Share petitions and important articles on social media. Remind your friends and coworkers why online privacy is important. Drawing attention to the issue is the first step towards change.
- Donate: Nonprofit groups survive on donations, both large and small. Setting up a regular donation, even a few dollars a month, will provide much-needed support for these organizations to continue fighting for a free and neutral internet. Check out each organization’s website for links to donate.
With the recent rollbacks in privacy rules governing internet service providers, people are more concerned about issues of internet privacy, online rights and censorship issues. As you can see, there are plenty of organizations you can support that are working hard to protect online rights and freedom of speech while fighting against censorship of all kinds.
What are your biggest concerns with internet privacy and censorship?