April 04, 2014 | Ed Johnson-Williams

Defend your digital rights in the European elections this May

While Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg kicked around old political footballs like immigration on Wednesday night, there was a glaring omission from the debate: digital rights.

Yesterday's net neutrality vote in the European Parliament showed our MEPs have the potential to harm or protect our digital rights.

Just two weeks ago, we were in real danger of MEPs voting for a Regulation that would have allowed a two-tier Internet where big businesses could buy their way to a faster Internet at the expense of the rest of us. Thanks to amendments brought in by pro-digital rights MEPs in the Socialist, Green and Liberal groups, worrying loopholes were closed and Europe moved a step closer to having world-leading net neutrality laws.

This was a massive victory for those of us campaigning for a free, open and democratic internet. But the vote was really close and it could easily have gone the other way.

So when we vote in the European elections on 22nd May, it's crucial that we end up with MEPs that will make the right decisions on digital rights issues.

Open Rights Group is part of the Europe-wide WePromise campaign that aims to help us get just that. It's a simple idea. Candidates sign a comprehensive 10 point Charter of Digital Rights on issues like surveillance, copyright, data protection and net neutrality. Then citizens across Europe try to vote for pro-digital rights candidates.

People who sign the WePromise petition will get an email close to polling day to confirm which candidates have signed the Charter.

You can also put direct pressure on all the candidates in your region by emailing them to ask for their support of the WePromise charter. Candidates are far more likely to pay attention when voters contact them about issues so this is a really effective way of making sure your voice is heard by your prospective MEPs.

Let's make sure we vote in as many pro-digital rights MEPs as possible on May 22nd.