CISA threatens Internet security and undermines user trust

Jochai Ben-Avie

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Protecting the privacy of users and the information collected about them online is crucial to maintaining and growing a healthy and open Web. Unfortunately, there have been massive threats that weaken our ability to create the Web that we want to see. The most notable and recent example of this is the expansive surveillance practices of the U.S. government that were revealed by Edward Snowden. Even though it has been nearly two years since these revelations began, the U.S. Congress has failed to pass any meaningful surveillance reform, and is about to consider creating new surveillance authorities in the form of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015.

We opposed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act in 2012 – as did a chorus of privacy advocates, information security professionals, entrepreneurs, and leading academics, with the President ultimately issuing a veto threat. We believe the newest version of CISA is worse in many respects, and that the bill fundamentally undermines Internet security and user trust.

CISA is promoted as facilitating the sharing of cyber threat information, but:

  • is overbroad in scope, allowing virtually any type information to be shared and to be used, retained, or further shared not just for cybersecurity purposes, but for a wide range of other offences including arson and carjacking;
  • allows information to be shared automatically between civilian and military agencies including the NSA regardless of the intended purpose of sharing, which limits the capacity of civilian agencies to conduct and oversee the exchange of cybersecurity information between the private sector and sector-specific Federal agencies;
  • authorizes dangerous countermeasures that could seriously damage the Internet; and
  • provides blanket immunity from liability with shockingly insufficient privacy safeguards.

The lack of meaningful provisions requiring companies to strip out personal information before sharing with the government, problematic on its own, is made more egregious by the realtime sharing, data retention, lack of limitations, and sweeping permitted uses envisioned in the bill.

Unnecessary and harmful sharing of personal information is a very real and avoidable consequence of this bill. Even in those instances where sharing information for cybersecurity purposes is necessary, there is no reason to include users’ personal information. Threat indicators rarely encompass such details. Furthermore, it’s not a difficult or onerous process to strip out personal information before sharing. In the exceptional cases where personal information is relevant to the threat indicator, those details would be so relevant to mitigating the threat at hand that blanket immunity from liability for sharing would not be necessary.

We believe Congress should focus on reining in the NSA’s sweeping surveillance authority and practices. Concerns around information sharing are at best a small part of the problem that needs to be solved in order to secure the Internet and its users.

Victory for Net Neutrality – Let’s Take It Across the Finish Line

Dave Steer

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{Cross posted from Feb 4th blog post in Mozilla Blog. Added FAQ.}

Today, we heard that we’ve won a stunning victory in the fight to protect net neutrality. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put forward a draft proposal for strong, enforceable net neutrality rules based on classifying broadband as a Title II communications service.

We are on the cusp of meaningful protection for the free and open Web.  In the remaining days before the official vote on February 26th, policy makers will be subject to intense pressure from the cable and telecom industry lobby. So we need to keep working. To get net neutrality across the finish line, Mozilla is launching a campaign that enables our community to stand together and send a strong signal to Washington, DC policy makers.

The FCC’s proposal is consistent with what we all wanted.  It reclassifies broadband as a Title II communications service, giving the FCC the authority to prohibit blocking or slowing down content — in essence, ISPs will not be able to create Internet fast lanes for the few big corporate giants that can afford it, and slow lanes for the rest of us. The world is watching, and the decisions reached in the U.S. will influence the global policy approach.

But victory is never guaranteed.

There are a handful of powerful interests in the cable and telecom industry that want to control both what is possible and what is imaginable on the Web. They are scared of net neutrality because they want to decide what we see and what we can do. They set the rules to dominate the market while stifling the innovation and opportunity of the Internet economy. They are the gatekeepers. We are the customers. And they’ve set their lobbyists loose on Congress to raise false arguments, to stall progress, and to get the FCC to back down. We can’t let them do this.

Ahead of the vote on February 26th, Mozilla is launching an effort to take net neutrality across the finish line by mobilizing our community and ensuring that policymakers hear their voices loud and clear.

We’ve created a new, urgent petition that you can sign, so that your message — along with those of everyone else who speaks out — is sent directly to members of Congress. We’ve also joined forces with Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press — key partners of ours in Stop SOPA and StopWatching.US — to enable our community to call their representatives of Congress. We will roll out this tool in the coming weeks as we get closer to the vote. We’re raising awareness across all of our major Firefox and Mozilla channels.

Taking on Goliaths is what the Mozilla community was born to do. The fight for choice in browsers; the fight to protect people’s privacy from government and corporate surveillance — these are the fights that have tipped the scales towards a Web where people have freedom and control.

Here we are – at another big tipping point for the Web. With days to go, this is our last chance to speak out before the FCC votes. Please stand with us.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Internet belongs to all of us. Protect net neutrality: Sign the Petition

Q: What is net neutrality?

A: Net neutrality is the principle that all data on the Internet must be treated equally. This means that Internet service providers (ISPs) and governments cannot discriminate what websites users can access, and they cannot prioritize or block content regardless of its source or how much users and providers pay.

Q: Why does net neutrality matter?

A: The Internet is a fundamental part of our daily lives — it is vital for innovation, learning and opportunity. Keeping it open ensures that it will remain a global, shared resource for everyone.

Q: What is Mozilla asking the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to do exactly?

A: We are asking the FCC to protect real net neutrality for all Internet users and content creators. We ask that they vote to reclassify the Internet under Title II, which gives the FCC the authority to make sure ISPs do not discriminate in their provision of services.

Q: If we want a free and open Internet, how is giving the government the authority to regulate it a good thing?

A: Title II doesn’t give the government the authority to regulate what happens on the Internet, but rather to protect the Internet and its users from discrimination and paid prioritization.

Q: Why is net neutrality in the news right now?

A: The FCC votes on February 26th, 2015 whether or not to classify broadband as a Title II communications service.  People commented to the FCC more than 4 million times in favor of Title II, the most public comments the commission has ever seen. This decision is historic, and many governments around the world are discussing their net neutrality policies this year; the decisions reached in the United States will influence global policy approach.

Q: What can I do to support net neutrality and take action to make my voice heard by the FCC?

A: If you live in the U.S., you can sign the petition and/or call your Congressional representative. Although the final decision will be made by the FCC — commissioners who are appointed and not elected — Congress determines the FCC’s budget, and has the political ability to undermine the FCC; this is why it’s critical for Congress and the FCC to align. If you live outside of the U.S,  please forward this to anyone you know in-country.

Q: What happens if the FCC doesn’t vote in favor of Title II?

A: If broadband isn’t reclassified under Title II, it would be considered an “information service,” which will not be protected as well by the FCC. As an information service, your Internet access could be throttled, slowed down, or even blocked. Under Title II, the FCC will protect the free and open Web.

More questions? Check out these additional resources:

Net Neutrality Wiki: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Netpolicy/Net_neutrality

Net Neutrality: Concepts: https://training.webmakerprototypes.org/en/net-neutrality/concepts/#

Net Neutrality: External resources: https://training.webmakerprototypes.org/en/net-neutrality/resources/

Tumblr: Help the FCC Protect the Internet: https://www.tumblr.com/everybodyontheinternet

Reflections on CES 2015

Chris Riley

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I just returned from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, and am writing to share a few reflections on the event. I spent most of my time at the “Innovation Policy” CES track, checking out sessions on net neutrality, privacy and the Internet of Things, and patent reform – all topics that will be the subject of many Internet policy headlines through 2015.

Continue reading …

Spotlight on Free Press: A Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Host Organization

Dave Steer

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{This is the final in a series of posts highlighting the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellows program host organizations. Free Press has been at the forefront of informing tech policy and mobilizing millions to take action to protect the Internet. This year, Free Press has been an instrumental catalyst in the fight to protect net neutrality. We are thrilled to have Free Press as a host organization, and eager to see the impact from their Fellow.}

Spotlight on Free Press: A Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Host Organization
By Amy Kroin, editor, Free Press

In the next few months, the Federal Communications Commission will decide whether to surrender the Internet to a handful of corporations — or protect it as a space that’s shared and shaped by millions of users.

At Free Press, we believe that protecting everyone’s rights to connect and communicate is fundamental to advancing social change. We believe that people should have the opportunities to tell their own stories, hold leaders accountable and participate in policy making. And we know that the freedom to access and share information is essential to this.

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But these freedoms are under constant attack.

Take Net Neutrality. In May, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released rules that would have allowed discrimination online and destroyed the Internet as we know it. Since then, Free Press has helped lead the movement to push Wheeler to ditch his rules — and safeguard Net Neutrality over the long term. Our nationwide mobilization efforts and our advocacy within the Beltway have prompted the president, leaders in Congress and millions of people to speak out for strong open Internet protections. Wheeler’s had to go back to the drawing board — and plans to release new rules in 2015.

Though we’ve built amazing momentum in our campaign, our opposition — AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and their hundreds of lobbyists — is not backing down. Neither are we. With the help of people like you, we can ensure the FCC enacts strong open Internet protections. And if the agency goes this route, we will do everything we can to defend those rules and fight any legal challenges.

But preserving Net Neutrality is only part of the puzzle. In addition to maintaining open networks for Internet users, we also need to curb government surveillance and protect press freedom.

In the aftermath of the Edward Snowden revelations, we helped launch the StopWatching.Us coalition, which organized the Rally Against Mass Surveillance and is pushing Congress to pass meaningful reforms. In 2015, we’re ramping up our advocacy and will cultivate more champions in Congress.

The widespread spying has had a particular impact on journalists, especially those who cover national security issues. Surveillance, crackdowns on whistleblowers and pressure to reveal confidential sources have made it difficult for many of these reporters to do their jobs.

Free Press has worked with leading press freedom groups to push the government to protect the rights of journalists. We will step up that work in the coming months with the hiring of a new journalism and press freedom program director.

This is just a snapshot of the kind of work we do every day at Free Press. We’re seeking a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow with proven digital skills who can hit the ground running. Applicants should be up to speed on the latest trends in online organizing and should have experience using social media tools to advance policy goals. Candidates should also be accustomed to working within a collaborative workplace.

To join our team of Internet freedom fighters, apply to become a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow at Free Press. We value excellence and diversity in our team. We strongly encourage applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.


Be a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. Application deadline is December 31, 2014. Apply at https://advocacy.mozilla.org/

 

 

The Benefits of Fellowship

Dave Steer

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In just a few weeks, the application window to be a 2015 Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow will close. In its first year, the Fellows program will place emerging tech leaders at five of the world’s leading nonprofits fighting to keep the Internet as a shared, open and global resource.

We’ve already seen hundreds of applicants from more than 70 countries apply, and we wanted to answer one of the primary questions we’ve heard: why should I be a Fellow?

Fellowships offer unique opportunities to learn, innovate and gain credentials.

Fellowships offer unique opportunities to learn. Representing the notion that ‘the community is the classroom’, Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellows will have a set of experiences in which they can learn and have an impact while working in the field. They will be at the epicenter of informing how public policy shapes the Internet. They will be working and collaborating together with a collection of people with diverse skills and experiences. They will be learning from other fellows, from the host organizations, and from the broader policy and advocacy ecosystem.

Fellowships offer the ability to innovate in policy and technology. The Fellowship offers the ability to innovate, using technology and policy as your toolset. We believe that the phrase ‘Move fast. Break things.’ is not reserved for technology companies – it is a way of being that Fellows will get to experience first-hand at our host organizations and working with Mozilla.

The Ford-Mozilla Fellowship offers a unique and differentiating credential. Our Fellows will be able to reference this experience as they continue in their career. As they advance in their chosen fields, alums of the program will be able to draw upon their experience leading in the community and working in the open. This experience will also enable them to expand their professional network as they continue to practice at the intersection of technology and policy.

We’ve also structured the program to remove barriers and assemble a Fellowship class that reflects the diversity of the entire community.

This is a paid fellowship with benefits to allow Fellows to focus on the challenging work of protecting the open Web through policy and technology work. Fellows will receive a $60,000 stipend for the 10-month program. In addition, we’ve created a series of supplements including support for housing, relocation, childcare, healthcare, continuing education and technology. We’re also offering visa assistance in order to ensure global diversity in participants.

In short, the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship is a unique opportunity to learn, innovate and gain credentials. It’s designed to enable Fellows to focus on the hard job of protecting the Internet.

More information on the Fellowship benefits can be found at https://advocacy.mozilla.org/. Good luck to the applicants of the 2015 Fellowship class.


The Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellows application deadline is December 31, 2014. Apply at https://advocacy.mozilla.org/.

Spotlight on Public Knowledge: A Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Host

Dave Steer

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(This is the fourth in our series spotlighting host organizations for the 2015 Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship. For years, Public Knowledge has been at the forefront of fighting for citizens and informing complex telecommunications policy to protect people. Working at Public Knowledge, the Fellow will be at the center of emerging policy that will shape the Internet as we know it. Apply to be a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow and use your tech skills at Public Knowledge to protect the Web.)

Spotlight on Public Knowledge: A Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Host
by Shiva Stella, Communications Manager of Public Knowledge

This year has been especially intense for policy advocates passionate about protecting a free and open internet, user protections, and our digital rights. Make no mistake: From net neutrality to the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, policy makers will continue to have an outsized influence over the web.

In order to enhance our advocacy efforts, Public Knowledge is hosting a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. We are looking for a leader with technical skills and drive to defend the internet, focusing on fair-use copyright and consumer protections. There’s a lot of important work to be done, and we know the public could use your help.

Public Knowledge Long

Public Knowledge works steadfastly in the telecommunications and digital rights space. Our goal is to inform the public of key policies that impact and limit a wide range of technology and telecom users. Whether you’re the child first responders fail to locate accurately because you dial 911 from a cell phone or the small business owner who can’t afford to “buy into” the internet “fast lane,” these policies affect your digital rights – including the ability to access, use and own communications tools like your set-top box (which you currently lease forever from your cable company, by the way) and your cell phone (which your carrier might argue can’t be used on a competing network due to copyright law).

There is no doubt that public policy impacts people’s lives, and Public Knowledge is advocating for the public interest at a critical time when special interests are attempting to shape policy that benefits them at our cost or that overlooks an issue’s complexity.

Indeed, in this interconnected world, the right policy outcome isn’t always immediately clear. Location tracking, for example, can impact people’s sense of privacy; and yet, when deployed in the right way, can lead to first responders swiftly locating someone calling 911 from a mobile device. Public Knowledge sifts through the research and makes sure consumers have a seat at the table when these issues are decided.

Public policy in this area can also impact the broader economy, and raises larger questions: Should we have an internet with a “fast lane“ for the relatively few companies that can afford it, and a slow lane for the rest of us? What would be the impact on innovation and small business if we erase net neutrality as we know it?

The answers to these questions require a community of leaders to advocate for policies that serve the public interest. We need to state in clear language the impact of ill-informed policies and how they affect people’s digital rights —including the ability to access, use and own communications tools, as well as the ability to create and innovate.

Even as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission reviews millions of net neutrality comments and considers approving huge mergers that risk consumers, the cable industry is busy hijacking satellite bills (STAVRA), stealthily slipping “pro-cable” provisions into legislation and that must be passed so 1.5 million satellite subscribers may continue receiving their (non-cable!) service. Public Knowledge shines light on these policies to prevent them from harming innovation or jeopardizing our creative and connected future. To this end we advocate for an open internet and public access to affordable technologies and creative works, engaging policy makers and the public in key policy decisions that affect us all.

Let us be clear: private interests are hoping you won’t notice or just don’t care about these issues. We’re betting that’s not the case. Please apply today to join the Public Knowledge team as a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow to defend the internet we love.


Apply to be a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. Application deadline for the 2015 Fellowship is December 31, 2014.

Spotlight on the Open Technology Institute: A Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Host

Dave Steer

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{This is the third installment in our series highlighting the 2015 Host Organizations for the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellows program. We are now accepting applications to be a 2015 fellow. We are thrilled to feature the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute as a host. Over the years, OTI has been a meaningful change agent, helping to protect the free and open Web. Working at OTI, the Open Web Fellow will be developing tools that lead to greater transparency, enabling all stakeholders to better understand how public policy and business practices impact the Web experience.}

Spotlight on the Open Technology Institute: A Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Host Organization
By Kevin Bankston, Policy Director, and Georgia Bullen, Senior Data Analyst; Open Technology Institute

Last month’s MozFest 2014 provided us a welcome opportunity to think about what we at New America’s Open Technology Institute hope to do over the next year as one of the few organizations lucky enough to host a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow during that fellowship program’s inaugural year. At OTI, we are committed to freedom and social justice in the digital age. To achieve these goals, we engage in policy debates, build technology, and work with communities to understand needs, test tools and build alternative models of infrastructure. And we are looking for a passionate maker to help us with our work in 2015. In particular, to help make more transparent the workings of the Internet and the companies that offer services over it.

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So much of what impacts our online experience happens without us seeing it, making it easy to overlook.

For example, look at the Net Neutrality debate, where decisions made at interconnection points deep in the network have both business and policy implications. At OTI, we have tools that allow us to dig into the technical depths of the issue through our Measurement Lab platform, and we recently published a major report laying out much of that data.  But we need help figuring out how to make this information more available and more clear so that policy experts, advocates, industry professionals and everyday Internet users can understand what interconnection is, how it works, and how it affects the online experience. We’ve started on one of these efforts by working on a visualization tool that we’re calling the Measurement Lab Observatory, but there’s so much more we can do with the Measurement Lab data, as well as the platform and tools to make it more accessible to everyone–if only we can find the right fellow.

With the help of the participants at our MozFest usability workshop, we thought about other ways to get people involved in Internet measurement, such as building a network troubleshooting tool that could generate new M-Lab data while also testing your connection.  We also talked about developing out our Firefox Browser extension to have different themes depending on a user’s needs, such as a journalist or advocate dashboard which includes recent news about Internet policy issues, or a “notebook” app with which Internet citizen scientists can run and annotate tests as part of the M-Lab research team.

These are just the types of ideas that we’re hoping our incoming Ford-Mozilla Fellow can run with.

On the policy and governance side, there’s also a lot more that we could be doing to reveal what happens behind the scenes between governments and Internet companies. Many companies now publish “Transparency Reports” that include information about how and when governments ask for user’s data. However, there’s no standardization in how companies report, making it hard to meaningfully combine or compare the data from different companies — and hard for new companies to get into the reporting game. Building on some of our previous research and education efforts around transparency reporting, in 2015 we will be launching a project called the Transparency Reporting Toolkit.  We’re going to build a Web portal filled with best practices information and tools to help companies create and upload reports in a standardized way, and tools for others to mash up and visualize the data from multiple companies’ reports. OTI’s technologists and data visualization experts are gearing up to build those tools, but it’s a big project and we could use some help — possibly yours.

Ultimately, we can only make good policy with good information, and we can only get good information – and, crucially, understand that information – with good tools.  We’re ready to move forward on all of these projects in 2015, full steam ahead. All we need now is the right technologist to help us make those tools. If that sounds exciting to you, apply to be a 2015 Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow and work with us and the Mozilla community to help build new windows into the technical and political depths of the Internet.


Apply to be a 2015 Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. Visit www.mozilla.org/advocacy.

Designing Tiles for Trust

Denelle Dixon-Thayer

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In August, I wrote about why we believe that trust is the most important currency of the Web. As I explained then, putting the user first, through transparency, choice and control is the only way to bring about the Web we want. In that post, I described several of our efforts designed to help us positively influence the ecosystem to garner more trust from users. One of those efforts was the Tiles feature. To influence the ecosystem, we have to participate in it.

As we move forward with Tiles, we wanted to share more details on our approach and invite your feedback. On November 10, we announced the release of a 10th anniversary edition of Firefox and firmly took our stand as an independent voice on the Web. With the anniversary edition, we made the Tiles experiment a part of Firefox.

We developed Tiles as an engaging and useful experience for our users. We designed the feature with a core focus on our Privacy Principles. Here are a few examples of how those principles influenced the feature:

  1. We ensure that no data is sent to us until you interact with the feature.
  2. You control the feature and can turn it off easily if you don’t find it useful.
  3. You can audit us – all of our code is open and auditable by you. In particular, you can learn more about the code that powers this feature here.
  4. If a user has previously opted into Do Not Track, we assume this means the user does not want to see Tiles so we pref Tiles off for those users. (Note: If a user subsequently opts in to DNT, the user will need to switch Tiles off).
  5. The data we collect is transmitted over HTTPS/TLS.

We’d love your feedback on these principles, and any ideas or suggestions you might have to make Tiles more valuable to users. Leave a comment, or better yet, use this form to submit feedback directly to the Tiles team.

We’re excited to move forward with Tiles and will continue to innovate with ways we can create positive impacts through this feature. Simultaneously, we will use our experiments through our Polaris initiative to test additional ways we can help create transparency, choice and control for our users.

What we need to do to save the Internet as we know it

Denelle Dixon-Thayer

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Today, President Obama announced his support for clear, enforceable rules to protect net neutrality, grounded in “Title II” reclassification by the Federal Communications Commission. We’re nearing the end of a long, sustained fight to get strong, effective protections for net neutrality. Now it is time to take it to the finish line.

Imagine a world where a small handful of powerful companies decide what information is available and accessible on the Internet. Or, a world where someone else chooses what you should (and shouldn’t) see on the Internet. Or, a world where you can no longer access your favorite website because it’s not part of the suite of content offered in your area.

Preventing the Internet that you just imagined is why the net neutrality fight is so important to the Mozilla community. It is about protecting the core ethos of the Internet. It is about ensuring that it remains an engine of innovation, opportunity and learning. It is about standing up to those in power with a core assertion: the Web is not owned by any one of us; rather, it is shared by all of us.

In the spring, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed rules that would have gutted the free and open Web. Under its original proposal, we would have seen the emergence of a two-tiered Internet — a fast one that benefits the few companies that can afford to pay; and a slow one for the rest of us.

The Internet community quickly responded, mobilizing itself for a long, sustained fight. Around the country, everyone from small business owners to librarians told their stories of why net neutrality was important to them. People saw the debate for what it really was — a few cable company goliaths trying to hoodwink the mainstream public and change the nature of the Web. We fought back with a resounding voice — the greatest amount of public engagement the FCC has ever seen — demanding strong net neutrality.

Today, as the FCC is closing in on a decision about net neutrality, tensions are rising over if and how it will adopt rules grounded in Title II authority. Title II would empower the FCC to prohibit the discrimination created when someone else can control which content is accessible. The question of where the FCC gets its authority — Title II or something else — is important. If the FCC chooses to rely on the wrong authority, the rules could be weakened, challenged, or overturned.

We have a view on both the authority and the rules required.

First, we believe that the FCC’s authority must come from Title II, and that full Title II reclassification is the cleanest, simplest path forward.

Second, we want a baseline set of protections that incorporate Title II. These protections include strong rules against blocking and discrimination of content, and should apply to the ‘last mile’ portion of the network controlled by the Internet access service provider.

In short, the FCC must not create separate fast lanes that enable prioritization of content over the Internet not based on reasonable and transparent network management.

Finally, because there is only one Internet, we believe the same framework and rules must be applied to mobile as well as fixed access services. It is time to bring mobile into the open Internet age.

Anything less than strong, enforceable rules against blocking, discrimination, and fast lanes, grounded in Title II, is unacceptable. Anything less than this is not the Mozilla baseline or the Mozilla proposal.

In the 25 year history of the Web there have been moments when the masses have stood up to the powerful forces that seek to control it; the launch of Firefox, which defeated the one-browser monopoly of Internet Explorer; the fight that stopped SOPA/PIPA from becoming law; the recent protests in Hungary against an Internet tax.

This is our moment to save the Internet as we know it, and the President’s focus on the issue demonstrates that we can win this fight, and get the FCC to adopt strong, enforceable rules to protect net neutrality. We stand with our Community ready to fight if our baseline is not met.

MozFest – It’s a Wrap!

smartin

0

While October 24-26 marked the fifth official MozFest celebration, it was an exhilarating first for the newly formed Policy & Advocacy track. Before we wrap up the event, the Policy & Advocacy Wranglers want to share our thoughts and observations on the event.

This year, we broadened our focus from 2013’s Privacy track to involve the entire Policy & Advocacy community, celebrating the Web We Want and highlighting the global movement to protect the free and open web.

What We Planned

Our track featured more than 20 sessions spanning digital citizenship, kids safety, net neutrality, privacy, security, and anti-surveillance. The advocacy sessions shared the secrets of successful campaigns, the tools of the trade, and how to use trouble to your advantage. One session invited people to conceptualize a new Internet Alert System. The track also featured talks about current events and issues, including the surveillance ecosystem, net neutrality, and Do Not Track. Those looking to use or gain technical skills had the opportunity to join four consecutive Hackathons — ranging from creating mesh networks to creating data visualizations — and a ‘Humane Cryptoparty’, which emphasized a human-centered approach to privacy tools and practical advice and guides for self-hosting email.

Another unique session was our Privacy Learning Lab. The Learning Lab was an experiment to attract those who might want to consume and learn about privacy in smaller, less intimidating chunks. Participants could join at any time, and move through each of five tables, covering topics as diverse as location privacy, the Clean Data Movement, metadata, using Webmaker tools, and an eye-catching privacy game called OffGrid. Several of our Learning Lab participants also shared their ideas during Sunday night’s closing party demos.

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On the mainstage, we announced the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellows program, a new program recruiting tech leaders to work at nonprofit organizations that are protecting the open Web. The search is on for Fellows who will have opportunities ranging from the ACLU, where the fellow will work with the team that is defending Edward Snowden to Amnesty International, where the fellow will be at the center of human rights and the Internet, to the Open Technology Institute, where the fellow will work with the organization’s M-Lab initiative and serve as a data scientist for the open Web movement. Applications for the 2015 Fellows are still open, and the deadline to apply is Wednesday, December 31, 2014.

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Creating the Environment

At MozFest, the interactive feel leads with the physical environment. The Policy & Advocacy track was housed high on the 7th floor of Ravensbourne, a media campus in the heart of London. In designing the right environment for our community, we planned several interactive displays to entice people to climb those stairs and fill those elevators to come see what we were all about. Our entrance included a ‘superhero photo booth’ which celebrated that we are all heroes of the web. Throughout the festival, people dressed up in superhero costumes, took selfies, and tweeted them to their networks with #WebWeWant.

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Continuing into our space, two thought provoking walls invited interaction.  At the colorful “Web We Want” ‘chalkboard’ (inspired by Candy Chang’s iconic work, anyone could grab a chalkboard pen to express their thoughts about the web – a big hit with participants and videographers alike.  Colorful responses ranged from “built by people, fun and open!” to “decentralized”, “private”, “empowering”, “an explosion of creativity,” and so much more.photo-4

Another wall, based on a recent cross-cultural study on trust, invited people to write their personal definitions of transparency and privacy. On a central kiosk we just may have hosted the first-ever offline Reddit session (not intentionally, but when the Internet connection unexpectedly glitched, reddit quickly adapted with an innovative offline AMA). Using colorful post-it notes, participants expressed a set of principles and values important to the open Web.

What We Learned

As the first year for the Policy & Advocacy track, we were in prototyping mode. We were testing what works, what doesn’t and optimizing on the fly. We learned so many lessons that we’ll chew on for next year, but we’d also like to share a few here.

We were incredibly inspired by what an AMAZING Policy & Advocacy community exists and the immeasurable value of face-to-face interaction to share ideas and solve problems together. For us Wranglers, the most difficult part of the planning process was having so many amazing proposals to choose from and not being able to include them all. Indeed, we may have created too many sessions, not giving people enough time to explore the rest of MozFest.

Another thing we learned was the need to document what was happening in the sessions. We heard several requests for video (perhaps even Firefox phone) recordings, to enable people who couldn’t attend the festival participate and to mitigate schedule overload for the people there. We’ll pitch that idea to the organizers next year, along with additional Learning Labs as a way to share more ideas in smaller chunks.

All in all, this was a great MozFest and a terrific beginning for the Policy & Advocacy track. We’d love to hear your feedback — email us at advocacy@mozilla.com. We look forward to putting what we learned into practice for next year.

Your Friendly Policy & Advocacy Space Wranglers,

Dave Steer, Alina Hua and Stacy Martin