What is Digital Freedom, and why should I care?

(this page is part of the Family Guide to Digital Freedom, 2007 edition. Please do read that introduction to know more about the Guide, especially if you mean to comment this page. Thanks).

The Family Guide to Digital Freedom explains, in one place and in normal language, what everybody should know about software, digital technologies and digital culture, and above all the real reasons why they should care.

Today your rights and the overall quality of your life depend very heavily on which software is being used around you: this is true even if you don’t care much about computers, or don’t use them yet.

Don’t be scared! This book is not a software manual, and doesn’t require any technical knowledge. If you have ever heard of computers, you have all the background needed to take advantage from this Guide.

Today software and other digital technologies control and influence every aspect of our education, business and social activity. Even if you don’t use them personally, you need to be sure they are chosen and used properly, just like the ingredients of the food you order at a restaurant. In other words, you have to make sure that your grocery store, school, post office, government… use their computers to your best advantage, something that doesn’t happen very often yet.

Correct use of software and hardware, together with fair digital copyright laws, can help to protect civil rights, lower expenses for both families and businesses, and help many children to have the best possible education and a good job when they grow up. Properly used and regulated software can help even those who don’t use it to keep as much of their money, privacy and freedom as possible.

There’s a lot of stuff happening now to make sure that very powerful interests in these fields are protected. This is one of the worst kept secrets of our time, but also one of the best kept. Everything is happening legally, in plain sight, counting on the fact that, until now, almost everybody has been (kept) in such a state of ignorance, disinformation and bliss that one could basically get away with murder. This book is here to change this situation, and allow you to protect yourself and the future of your children.

The real issues are presented mainly, but not exclusively, from a parent’s point of view. This book is also written for teachers and other educators, as well as politicians: they all stand to benefit from truly open digital technologies, and each category can and should stimulate the other two to adopt these tools.