We’ve long said that encryption is a right, describing it as the “second amendment for the Internet.” In addition to encryption we have other rights as Internet users, including the right to access a free and open Internet and to communicate with others online – or first amendment rights. It seems some of these rights may be at risk, so we’d like to review some fundamental rights of the Internet as prescribed by the United States constitution.
First Amendment Rights
The first amendment protects a variety of rights, including the freedom of speech and free press. These rights prevail in today’s digital age, with first amendment protections afforded to Internet users. As we explore in our Vision Paper, everyone has a right to a free and open Internet. This means an Internet devoid of restrictions or censorship, that offers equal access to all users regardless of location, carrier or income. The ability to communicate freely online – both in regards to the content of communicaitons and self-expression and in regards the ability to access the Internet, is another essential right. Many organizations promote human rights campaigns around Internet access, including Access Now’s Keep It On campaign.
Second Amendment Rights
The second amendment offers the right to protect oneself (literally, to bear arms) – and these protections can be extended to Internet users. As a company that stands for privacy, we believe that privacy is a fundamental right. Everyone has the right to protect themselves and their privacy online – and encryption is a great way to do so. In this sense, encryption is the second amendment for the Internet. Golden Frog offers tools to achieve this protection, and we are incorporated in Switzerland where privacy is respected under strong laws. These thoughts have been echoed by many others, including Open Democracy.
Fourth Amendment Rights
The fourth amendment provides protections for people and their property against unreasonable search/seizures, and includes requirement for appropriate warrants. These fourth amendment rights are also applicable in the digital age, in regards to the collection and viewing of electronic information of Internet and mobile users. People have a right to their privacy and personal information without the threat of intrusion or surveillance without a warrant. As a company we are in opposition to unwarranted mass surveillance practices, and we oppose legislation (the recently passed Rule 41, for example) which may threaten these rights. Everyone has a right to privacy without the threat of warrantless mass surveillance.
At Golden Frog we are pleased to offer a tool – VyprVPN – that enables people to access an unrestricted Internet and communicate in a free and private way. By utilizing encryption, we provide access to a private, secure free and open Internet, respecting the fundamental rights of Internet users in the United States and around the world.