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Values and Principles

graphic of one hand cradling the earth, with a smaller hand reaching out to it
© iStockPhoto / Internet Society

Core Values

The quality of life for people in all parts of the world is enhanced by their ability to enjoy the benefits of an open and global Internet.

Well-informed individuals and public and private policy makers are the essential foundation of an open and global Internet society.

The genius of the Internet is that its decentralized architecture maximizes individual users’ power to choose (or create) and use the hardware, software, and services that best meet their needs, and if the Internet is to continue to be a platform for innovation and creativity, its open, decentralized nature must be preserved.

Enduring and sustainable progress toward our vision is best achieved by a combination of global initiatives and activities at a local level that engage people in their home regions.

Technical standards and Internet operating procedures should be developed and asserted through open and transparent processes, with minimal barriers to participation or access to information.

The social, political, and economic benefits of the Internet are substantially diminished by excessively restrictive governmental or private controls on computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or Internet content.

Rewarding and productive use of the Internet depends on the ability to trust critical services.

Principles That Guide Our Work

The Ability to Connect. The edge-dominant end-to-end architecture of the Internet is essential to its utility as a platform for innovation, creativity, and economic opportunity. To preserve this quality, we will oppose efforts to establish standards or practices that would make it difficult or impossible for some users of the Internet to use the full range of Internet applications of all kinds.

The Ability to Speak. The Internet is a powerful mass medium for self-expression which depends on the ability of its users to speak freely. We believe that the Internet must support private—and, where appropriate, anonymous—means of communication and collaboration among individuals and groups, and will oppose efforts to restrict the type or content of information exchanged on the Internet.

The Ability to Innovate. The remarkable growth of the Internet and the limitless variety of Internet applications follow directly from the open model of Internet connectivity and standards development. Any individual, organization, or company can develop and distribute a new Internet application that can be used by anyone. We recognize the enormous value of this innovation, and oppose governmental or nongovernmental restrictions on the evolution and use of Internet technology.

The Ability to Share. The many-to-many architecture of the Internet makes it a powerful tool for sharing, education, and collaboration. It has enabled the global open source community to develop and enhance many of the key components of the Internet, such as the Domain Name System and the World-Wide Web, and has made the vision of digital libraries a reality. To preserve these benefits we will oppose technologies and legislation that would inhibit the freedom to develop and use open source software or limit the well-established concept of fair use, which is essential to scholarship, education, and collaboration.

The Ability to Choose. Government regulation and the economic power of incumbent telecommunication monopolies can delay or prevent the growth of the Internet by limiting the ability of competitors to provide new, better, cheaper, or more innovative Internet-related services. We advocate policies that promote competition in telecommunications, Internet services, Internet-related software, and e-commerce applications.

The Ability to Trust. Everyone’s ability to connect, speak, innovate, share, and choose depends on the Internet’s ability to support trustworthy internetworking—ensuring the security, reliability, and stability of increasingly critical and pervasive applications and services.