One of the things that first drew me to Mozilla was this sentence from our manifesto:
“The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible to all.”
These words made me stop and think. As they sunk in, they made me commit.
I committed myself to the idea that the Internet is a global public resource that we all share and rely on, like water. I committed myself to stewarding and protecting this important resource. I committed myself to making the importance of the open Internet widely known.
When we say, “Protect the Internet,” we are not talking about boosting Wi-fi so people can play “Candy Crush” on the subway. That’s just bottled water, and it will very likely exist with or without us. At Mozilla, we are talking about “the Internet” as a vast and healthy ocean.
We believe the health of the Internet is an important issue that has a huge impact on our society. An open Internet—one with no blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization—allows individuals to build and develop whatever they can dream up, without a huge amount of money or asking permission. It’s a safe place where people can learn, play and unlock new opportunities. These things are possible because the Internet is an open public resource that belongs to all of us.
Making the Internet a Mainstream Issue
Not everyone agrees that the health of the Internet is a major priority. People think about the Internet mostly as a “thing” other things connect to. They don’t see the throttling or the censorship or the surveillance that are starting to become pervasive. Nor do they see how unequal the benefits of the Internet have become as it spreads across the globe. Mozilla aims to make the health of the Internet a mainstream issue, like the environment.
Consider the parallels with the environmental movement for a moment. In the 1950s, only a few outdoor enthusiasts and scientists were talking about the fragility of the environment. Most people took clean air and clean water for granted. Today, most of know we should recycle and turn out the lights. Our governments monitor and regulate polluters. And companies provide us with a myriad of green product offerings—from organic food to electric cars.
But this change didn’t happen on its own. It took decades of hard work by environmental activists before governments, companies and the general public took the health of the environment seriously as an issue. This hard work paid off. It made the environment a mainstream issue and got us all looking for ways to keep it healthy.
When in comes to the health of the Internet, it’s like we’re back in the 1950s. A number of us have been talking about the Internet’s fragile state for decades—Mozilla, the EFF, Snowden, Access, the ACLU, and many more. All of us can tell a clear story of why the open Internet matters and what the threats are. Yet we are a long way from making the Internet’s health a mainstream concern.
We think we need to change this, so much so that it’s now one of Mozilla’s explicit goals.
Read Mark Surman’s “Mozilla Foundation 2020 Strategy” blog post.
Starting the Debate: Digital Dividends
The World Bank’s recently released “2016 World Development Report” shows that we’re making steps in the right direction. Past editions have focused on major issues like “jobs.” This year the report focuses directly on “digital dividends” and the open Internet.
According to the report, the benefits of the Internet, like inclusion, efficiency, and innovation, are unequally spread. They could remain so if we don’t make the Internet “accessible, affordable, and open and safe.” Making the Internet accessible and affordable is urgent. However,
“More difficult is keeping the internet open and safe. Content filtering and censorship impose economic costs and, as with concerns over online privacy and cybercrime, reduce the socially beneficial use of technologies. Must users trade privacy for greater convenience online? When are content restrictions justified, and what should be considered free speech online? How can personal information be kept private, while also mobilizing aggregate data for the common good? And which governance model for the global internet best ensures open and safe access for all? There are no simple answers, but the questions deserve a vigorous global debate.”
—”World Development Report 2016: Main Messages,” p.3
We need this vigorous debate. A debate like this can help make the open Internet an issue that is taken seriously. It can shape the issue. It can put it on the radar of governments, corporate leaders and the media. A debate like this is essential. Mozilla plans to participate and fuel this debate.
Creating A Public Conversation
Of course, we believe the conversation needs to be much broader than just those who read the “World Development Report.” If we want the open Internet to become a mainstream issue, we need to involve everyone who uses it.
We have a number of plans in the works to do exactly this. They include collaboration with the likes of the World Bank, as well as our allies in the open Internet movement. They also include a number of experiments in a.) simplifying the “Internet as a public resource” message and b.) seeing how it impacts the debate.
Our first experiment is an advertising campaign that places the Internet in a category with other human needs people already recognize: Food. Water. Shelter. Internet. Most people don’t think about the Internet this way. We want to see what happens when we invite them to do so.
The outdoor campaign launches this week in San Francisco, Washington and New York. We’re also running variations of the message through our social platforms. We’ll monitor reactions to see what it sparks. And we will invite conversation in our Mozilla social channels (Facebook & Twitter).
Fueling the Movement
Of course, billboards don’t make a movement. That’s not our thinking at all. But we do think experiments and debates matter. Our messages may hit the mark with people and resonate, or it may tick them off. But our goal is to start a conversation about the health of the Internet and the idea that it’s a global resource that needs protecting.
Importantly, this is one experiment among many.
We’re working to bolster the open Internet movement and take it mainstream. We’re building easy encryption technology with the EFF (Let’s Encrypt). We’re trying to make online conversation more inclusive and open with The New York Times and The Washington Post (Coral Project). And we’re placing fellows and working on open Internet campaigns with organizations like the ACLU, Amnesty International, and Freedom of the Press Foundation (Open Web Fellows Program). The idea is to push the debate on many fronts.
About the billboards, we want to know what you think:
- Has the time come for the Internet to become a mainstream concern?
- Is it important to you?
- Does it rank with other primary human needs?
I’m hoping it does, but I’m also ready to learn from whatever the results may tell us. Like any important issue, keeping the Internet healthy and open won’t happen by itself. And waiting for it to happen by itself is not an option.
We need a movement to make it happen. We need you.
Standards are a key part of keeping the Open Web open. The Web runs on standards developed mainly by two standards bodies: the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which standardizes HTML and Web APIs, and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which standardizes networking protocols, such as HTTP and TLS, the core transport protocols for the Web. I’m pleased to announce that Martin Thomson, from the CTO group, was recently appointed to the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the committee responsible for the architectural oversight of the IETF standards process.
Martin’s appointment recognizes a long history of major contributions to the Internet standards process: including serving as editor for HTTP/2, the newest and much improved version of HTTP, helping to design, implement, and document WebPush, which we just launched in Firefox, and playing major roles in WebRTC, TLS and Geolocation. In addition to his standards work, Martin has committed code all over Gecko, in areas ranging from the WebRTC stack to NSS. Serving on the IAB will give Martin a platform to do even greater things for the Internet and the Open Web as a whole.
Please join me in congratulating Martin.
Today we are very pleased to announce an addition to the Mozilla Corporation Board of Directors, Dr. Karim Lakhani, a scholar in innovation theory and practice.
Dr. Lakhani is the first of the new appointments we expect to make this year. We are working to expand our Board of Directors to reflect a broader range of perspectives on people, products, technology and diversity. That diversity encompasses many factors: from geography to gender identity and expression, cultural to ethnic identity, expertise to education.
Born in Pakistan and raised in Canada, Karim received his Ph.D. in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, where he also serves as Principal Investigator for the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard University Institute for Quantitative Social Science.
Karim’s research focuses on open source communities and distributed models of innovation. Over the years I have regularly reached out to Karim for advice on topics related to open source and community based processes. I’ve always found the combination of his deep understanding of Mozilla’s mission and his research-based expertise to be extremely helpful. As an educator and expert in his field, he has developed frameworks of analysis around open source communities and leaderless management systems. He has many workshops, cases, presentations, and journal articles to his credit. He co-edited a book of essays about open source software titled Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software, and he recently co-edited the upcoming book Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities and Openness, both from MIT Press.
However, what is most interesting to me is the “hands-on” nature of Karim’s research into community development and activities. He has been a supporter and ready advisor to me and Mozilla for a decade.
Please join me now in welcoming Dr. Karim Lakhani to the Board of Directors. He supports our continued investment in open innovation and joins us at the right time, in parallel with the Katharina Borchert’s transition off of our Board of Directors into her role as our new Chief Innovation Officer. We are excited to extend our Mozilla network with these additions, as we continue to ensure that the Internet stays open and accessible to all.
Mozilla is a proud supporter of research carried out by Caribou Digital, the UK-based think tank dedicated to building sustainable digital economies in emerging markets. Today, Caribou has released a report exploring the impact of the global app economy and international trade flows in app stores. You can find it here.
The findings highlight the app economy’s unbalanced nature. While smartphones are helping connect billions more to the Web, the effects of the global app economy are not yet well understood. Key findings from our report include:
- Most developers are located in high-income countries. The geography of where app developers are located is heavily skewed toward the economic powerhouses, with 81% of developers in high-income countries — which are also the most lucrative markets. The United States remains the dominant producer, but East Asia, fueled by China, is growing past Europe.
- Apps stores are winner-take-all. The nature of the app stores leads to winner-take-all markets, which skews value capture even more heavily toward the U.S. and other top producers. Conversely, even for those lower-income countries that do have a high number of developers — e.g., India — the amount of value capture is disproportionately small to the number of developers participating.
- The emerging markets are the 1% — meaning, they earn 1% of total app economy revenue. 95% of the estimated value in the app economy is captured by just 10 countries, and 69% of the value is captured by just the top three countries. Excluding China, the 19 countries considered low- or lower-income accounted for only 1% of total worldwide value.
- Developers in low-income countries struggle to export to the global stage. About one-third of developers in the sample appeared only in their domestic market. But this inability to export to other markets was much more pronounced for developers in low-income countries, where 70% of developers were not able to export, compared to high-income countries, where only 29% of developers were not able to export. For comparison, only 3% of U.S. developers did not export.
- U.S. developers dominate almost all markets. On average, U.S. apps have 30% of the market across the 37 markets studied, and the U.S. is the dominant producer in every market except for China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Mozilla is proud to support Caribou Digital’s research, and the goal of working toward a more inclusive Internet, rich with opportunity for all users. Understanding the effects of the global app economy, and helping to build a more inclusive mobile Web, are key. We invite readers to read the full report here, and Caribou Digital’s blog post here.
Update your Software and Share the Lean Data Practices
Today is International Data Privacy Day. What can we all do to help ourselves and each other improve privacy on the Web? We have something for everyone:
- Users can greatly improve their own data privacy by simply updating their software.
- Companies can increase user trust in their products and user privacy by implementing Lean Data Practices that increase transparency and offer user control.
By taking action on these two simple ideas, we can create a better Web together.
Why is updating important?
Updating your software is a basic but crucial step you can take to help increase your privacy and security online. Outdated software is one of the easiest ways for hackers to access your data online because it’s prone to vulnerabilities and security holes that can be exploited and that may have been patched in the updated versions. Updating can make your friends and family more secure because a computer that has been hacked can be used to hack others. Not updating software is like driving with a broken tail light – it might not seem immediately urgent, but it compromises your safety and that of people around you.
For our part, we’ve tried to make updating Firefox as easy as possible by automatically sending users updates by default so they don’t have to worry about it. Updates for other software may not come automatically, but they are equally important.
Once you complete your updates share the “I Updated” badge using #DPD2016 and #PrivacyAware and encourage your friends and family to update, too!
Why should companies implement Lean Data Practices?
Today we’re also launching a new way for companies and projects to earn user trust through a simple framework that helps companies think about the decisions they make daily about data. We call these Lean Data Practices and the three central questions that help companies work through are how can you stay lean, build in security and engage your users. The more companies and projects that implement these concepts, the more we as an industry can earn user trust. You can read more in this blog post from Mozilla’s Associate General Counsel Jishnu Menon.
As a nonprofit with a mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web Mozilla is dedicated to putting users in control of their online experiences. That’s why we think about online privacy and security every day and have privacy principles that show how we build it into everything we do. All of us – users and businesses alike – can contribute to a healthy, safe and trusted Web. The more we focus on ways to reach that goal, the easier it is to innovate and keep the Web open and accessible to all. Happy International Data Privacy Day!