Ron, Rand Paul to back libertarian manifesto for 'Internet freedom'

Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his son, freshman Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), are expected to back a new online manifesto from the Campaign for Liberty that decries government regulation of the Internet.

The manifesto by the Paul-supported libertarian group lists a set of eight questions they say should be kept in mind when new Internet rules are being considered, and claims that so-called Internet collectivists are using terms like "Internet freedom" to push for more government regulation.

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“Around the world, the real threat to Internet freedom comes not from bad people or inefficient markets — we can and will always route around them — but from governments' foolish attempts to manage and control innovation,” the document reads.

BuzzFeed first reported the story and cited Paul aides saying the manifesto will be a chief policy issue for the two lawmakers.

The Campaign for Liberty echoed the sentiment. 

“Along with our top priority of auditing and ending the Federal Reserve, C4L plans to bring the same passion and effort to this battle to protect freedom on the Internet,” Matt Hawes, vice president of the Campaign for Liberty, said in an email.

The release of the manifesto comes after Internet advocacy groups published two separate declarations on Internet policy earlier this week. One, backed by net-neutrality supporters Free Press and Public Knowledge, listed a set of principles intended to protect a free and open Internet.

The Campaign for Liberty document, on the other hand, takes issue with net neutrality and efforts by advocacy groups to get the government involved in how the private sector manages the Web. It warns that a “dangerous brew of wealthy, international [non-governmental organizations], progressive do-gooders, corporate cronies and sympathetic political elites” are using terms like "openness" and "neutrality" to achieve this goal.

“They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously push for more centralized control,” the manifesto reads. “ 'Openness' means government control of privately owned infrastructure. 'Net neutrality' means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be 'neutral.' ”

The Texas congressman has been a vocal opponent of new Internet regulation and sided with a bipartisan group of lawmakers that fought against the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act. Paul’s stance on the anti-piracy bill was lauded by Web companies and Internet activists who argued that the bill would hamper innovation and encourage censorship on the Internet.