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Defending the Net in 2015: The Community has Responded

Article written by OpenMedia volunteer Rozali Telbis. Huge thanks for all her help provided with our community survey!  It’s that time of year again: we are pleased to announce the results from the 2015 community survey. We’re thrilled by the response— with 6,500 supporters from 87 different countries taking part. 

As a volunteer, I assisted with the data analysis of this year’s survey. The process of collecting and analyzing your responses has inspired and reinvigorated my own personal fight for an open, free, and accessible Internet. 

I first became interested in the fight for the open Internet when I joined a chat room years ago and learned about digital rights issues. From then on, I enrolled in a number of courses where I deepened my knowledge of Internet surveillance, censorship, infrastructure, and governance. Through my own personal fight for an open Internet, I found OpenMedia. I wanted to volunteer with OpenMedia because it is one of the few organizations that fights for digital rights through collaboration and crowdsourcing.

The opportunity to join OpenMedia as a volunteer provided me with the chance to be a part of a team that is committed in the fight to safeguard the free and open Internet, whether it be through the legislative process or through social media engagement. 

We received incredible insightful and passionate responses from supporters all over the world. Common themes included: Internet privacy free from government surveillance; democracy; freedom of expression and censorship. 

Here is what a few of you said: 

“Open Internet is the last remaining tool anchoring us in the realm of democracy. ” Liam, Canada 

“The Internet is a connecting force for the international community - it's a way for people from all different classes, cultures, religions, ages, etc to learn from and interact with each other. ” - Emily, Canada

“[The] Internet is the New Printing Press, that 'could' spread welfare and equality through knowledge.” - Gonzalo, Spain

"Reliable, quick and uncensored Internet access is a hallmark of a prosperous 21st century society" - William, U.S.

“An open Internet is critical to enable individuals to exercise maximum participation in public decision-making. . . It will become the single best guarantor of global peace and global sustainability.” Charles, Australia 

(**Index bar (Green) is an overall indicator of concern.)

The majority of survey takers were mistrustful of governments and big data, but in different ways. While community members were wary of private companies for fear of the misuse of data, they didn’t trust government because of widespread data collection, secret analysis and storage, and sharing our private info with other parties. 

83% of you were very concerned about your ISPs handing your personal information to the government without a warrant. Our solution to this and other privacy challenges? We recently rolled out a crowdsourced Privacy Plan for tackling Canada’s privacy deficit. We’ve also worked with many other groups on the Reset The Net initiative which provides practical advice to safeguard your privacy on the web. 

(**Index bar (Green) is an overall indicator of concern.)

The community was most concerned about government censorship, while 86% of survey takers were very concerned about secretive agreements (like the TPP) that threaten free expression online. Government (like Bill C-51 in Canada) and/or ISP interference (by throttling and undermining net neutrality) can have a chilling effect, restricting freedom of expression, and subsequently compromising the very foundations that make a society democratic. As Adil from the U.S. notes, “A government that touts freedom of expression should not punish people for expressing their views.”

Over 300 Canadian writers, musicians, actors, and artists have expressed their concerns over Bill C-51 and its dangers in an open letter to party leaders in time for the recent Canadian election. You can join these creative voices and speak out against Bill C-51 at

(**Index bar (Green) is an overall indicator of concern.)

Similar to last year’s results, most of you were adamant about the importance of Net Neutrality, while fully 86% of you were very concerned about affordable, equal, and unlimited access for all. Canadians were in the lead in demanding fair mobile phone rates and opening up networks to independent service providers. People want more choices, better service, and fair prices from ISPs. 

Mike from Canada summed it up by saying ”We need reasonable rates, net neutrality, complete internet coverage, and more ISP choices.”

(**Index bar (Green) is an overall indicator of concern.)

78% of you told us that what you valued most about OpenMedia’s campaigns was voicing your concerns to decision makers, closely followed by 76% of you who valued our community-led crowdsourced plans.

This community survey shapes OpenMedia’s priorities for the year to come. Our team will be integrating the results into our 2016 strategic planning session next week. We’ll be coming back to you to ask for feedback on our strategic plan once it’s ready to share - stay tuned! We cannot emphasize enough how grateful we are to have supporters like you are who are just as passionate and committed to fighting for an open Internet as we are. 

We depend on your voice to create effective and meaningful change. On behalf of OpenMedia, I want to thank you for your valuable feedback and invite you to add comments below! 



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