Internet Freedom is a fairly obtuse concept. But ask anyone under the age of twenty five abouut the things that are important to them in the world today and you'll heard strands of Internet Freedom in their words.
I met with a politician from a farm state the other day. He told me a story about being driven around his home state by a young college educated farmer. He asked the young farmer about a number of key internet issues and the young man recited the key points on the issues back to him replete with the rallying cries of the Internet crowd on each issue. The farmer was as conversant on the points as the tech crowd in San Francisco or New York. The politician took notice and relayed the story to me a month or two later like it had happened to him that day.
I drove with my middle child and two of her friends back to college at the end of winter break back in January when SOPA and PIPA were still very much a live issue. I was right smack in the middle of the fight but I did not bring it up in the car ride. My daughter was driving, I was in the passenger's seat, and her two friends were in the back seat. At one point in the ride one of the young women in the back seat said something like "can you believe this nonsense about SOPA?" and the other young women said "where are we going to get our content if they do this to us?". I didn't take the bait and join the conversation. I just listened. They were outraged by the PIPA/SOPA discussion and the Megaupload takedown and the broader desire to limit what as available to them on the Internet.
I have watched my kids closely over the years. I am a noticer. I pay a lot of attention to what they and their friends do, say, and think. It is a guidepost for me in terms of where we are going and how we are going to get there.
Their generation grew up with a computer on their lap and now in their pocket. They were on Facebook before they were supposed to be. Their first phone was a smartphone. They prefer to watch a movie on their laptop lying on their bed than in the movie theater. And as a young woman said at Princeton last week, they want "life, liberty, and blazing broadband".
I loved that line, wrote it down, and used it to anchor this post. It defines this generation to me. They grew up with Internet Freedom, it is a birthright as far as they are concerned, and woe the person or people who ever try to take it away from them.