Digital Freedom for Everyone!
Free, Democratically Controlled Technical Infrastructure
Modern society is hard to imagine without digital communication. The state’s actions should be geared towards securing and promoting public access to all forms of communication, including internet, radio, and television. The only way to ensure public participation in digital space is to own the hardware through municipally-controlled internet service providers. Furthermore, the transmission hardware itself, paid for by tax dollars, should also be owned and maintained by publicly owned co-operatives.
Universal access to data can only be ensured if information is available in an open standards format. Open standards decrease our dependence on individual manufacturers and enables free competition between technical solutions. One only needs to look at the early days of cellphone chargers to see what happens when proprietary formats are given reign. We support the promotion and use of open standards and government policy must further this goal. An open standard is a protocol or format which meets the following criteria:
All participants have full, equal and public access to the standard and can evaluate and use it equally; There are no components or extensions that depend on formats or protocols which do not conform to this definition; There are no legal or technical clauses that restrict use by any party or business model; Development is beyond the control of any one company;
We support the promotion of Free Software that can be used, analyzed, disseminated and changed by everyone, without restrictions. Free Software guarantees users the basic freedom necessary to take control of their own technical systems and to develop them collectively and democratically. It provides a significant contribution to strengthening the autonomy and privacy of all users. Particularly educational institutions and governments must work towards switching their entire technical infrastructure to free software. Doing so will reduce public expenditures, government's dependence on individual manufacturers and provide the public with better access to government documents. The digital infrastructure must operate equally across all major operating systems.
Access to Digital Communication
It is undeniable that children of poor and working class families lose out when educational materials are only accessible online. If we expect people to participate in a digital economy, we must provide them with the access to do so. Libraries across the state have started offering laptop and wifi access bundles to loan, this is a good model to replicate until a broad public takeover of the telecom industry takes place.
Possible Uses of Digital Communication
A small number of financial companies exercise an effective stranglehold over private commerce, acting as censors and decency police over the sale of completely legal, adult material. We cannot allow private companies to control the conduct between consenting adults.
Learning How to Use Digital Technology
Media literacy skills, especially related to identifying and resisting misinformation, must become an integral part of social studies curriculums. Furthermore, we owe it to our seniors to teach them to protect themselves online as well. Schools must be encouraged to use open source software, both institutionally and to teach digital media creation.
Digital Society Worldwide
Free communication through digital networks allows our society to reinforce classic freedoms such as freedom of speech and free personal development. It creates informed citizens and strengthens democratic discourse. It also helps create new economic sectors and contribute to the wealth of society. Therefore, efforts towards the establishment of free communication networks in the United States and in other countries must also be welcomed and supported. They enable more democratic forms of government around the world, more informed and tolerant societies and, consequently, more stable structures. The establishment of free communication networks must become a part of development aid all around the world, wherever feasible. Even if there is limited range or technical support, robust systems that can be implemented will give disadvantaged communities a chance to not only learn from the greater world but be enabled to take their place in the greater digital world.
Free communication networks around the world have time and again been threatened by censorship. These attempts are usually directed against the country’s own population and against the freedoms of its own citizens. Under no circumstances must Massachusetts support censorship in other countries. The technical prerequisites for censorship must not be tolerated, even if they are created at home or abroad. Initiatives, political or technical in nature, for undermining filtering systems must be supported. These policies should be spread as far as foreign relations permit.
Ending the Social Media Oligopoly
Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Google have grown so large that they can stifle competition either by buying competitors or preventing competitors from growing large enough to challenge them. They exploit human biochemical reactions in order to maximize user engagement to fatten their profits, and have an unprecedented ability to shape human society. They are unfit stewards for our digital commons. Our belief in democracy and decentralization convinces us that they should not have this much power. Such companies must be broken up using the anti-trust laws we already have. A pirate government will also require that users be able to take their data with them to other services easily and that all services must be able to interoperate.
Adopted: September 29th, 2021 IRC Meeting