Letter to the Community: The road ahead for OpenMedia
Our new Executive Director Laura Tribe introduces herself and looks at the exciting challenges we’ll face over the months ahead.
Greetings OpenMedia fans, friends, and supporters!
It’s Laura here — as was announced earlier this week, I’ve just been named as OpenMedia’s new Executive Director.
For me, this is an incredibly exciting, and humbling, opportunity and I am so proud to be a part of the amazing group of humans that make up the OpenMedia team. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to meet the OpenMedia team in real life, it’s a pretty amazing group of people that continues to impress me every single day.
It is a big honour to be carrying forward the work of Alexa Pitoulis, who has done a remarkable job as our Interim Executive Director over the past 6 months (and as our Managing Director prior to that). If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, I highly recommend Alexa’s reflections on her time at OpenMedia. Alexa has been a major force behind our participatory OpenMedia culture — not least through her work with our founder Steve Anderson on our Under the Hood blog series (don’t miss the latest instalment about how we operate right here!).
So who am I?
Some of you will be reading my name for the first time — but if you’re a supporter of our privacy work, you’ve probably already seen my name pop up in your inbox a few times. Over the past year, I’ve been privileged to lead OpenMedia’s campaigns work on privacy, working to protect our digital security in Canada and around the world.
It’s certainly been a ‘never a dull moment’ type of job — over just the past 6 months, for example, our team have launched campaigns protecting your privacy that include:
Telling Netflix to stop blocking essential pro-privacy tools.
Rallying people across the globe to Stop Stingray Surveillance, and filing a federal complaint against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding the use of Stingray devices to monitor our private cellphone information.
Delivering your voices to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, as part of our campaign against Canada’s reckless and irresponsible spying legislation, Bill C-51.
TL;DR: I think our right to communicate privately is critical. And long before my time at OpenMedia, I’ve been an advocate for privacy, free expression, and the potential power of the open Internet.
I remember the first time I connected to the Internet (Hey, CompuServe!). This sound will forever remind me of the excitement I felt connecting to the Internet for the very first time — an excitement I still feel today, many years later. In short, my mind was blown. My dad was showing me how to find information for my school project on grey wolf territories in Canada (a search result that now yields over 600,000 results on google!) Without even having to go to the library, in no time at all, a complete stranger, somewhere else in the world, was answering my questions (LIVE!).
I’ve been hooked ever since. That’s why I’ve spent my career working with tech-focused non-profits to ensure that the Internet is used to connect and empower voices that may not otherwise be heard. I have a background in free expression and in ensuring we use communication technologies to safeguard, not undermine, human rights. And I’ve also worked to defend open access to the Internet, and free expression – online and off.
I believe in connectivity, opportunity, communication, and information. But above all, I believe that people have the power to affect change – and that’s what OpenMedia’s work is all about. Empowering people to have their voices heard, and make a difference.
Being an advocate isn’t always easy – after all, we’re up against some of the most powerful government and private bureaucracies on the planet. But I know that I speak for our entire OpenMedia team when I say that it’s you – our community – that keeps us going.
So what’s up next for OpenMedia?
Well, as usual, the team here is crazy busy, working to make sure your voices are heard on a whole range of pressing digital rights issues. Already, 2016 has seen a number of major threats to the open Internet: Governments and unaccountable giant conglomerates are pulling out all the stops to ram through the unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the European Commission is continuing to push its reckless Link Tax plan, and we’re seeing new threats to Net Neutrality in Canada and around the world.
But we’ve also been given some amazing opportunities to make a real impact. Canada’s upcoming national security consultation, for example, will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repeal the reckless Bill C-51 and strengthen privacy protections for all Canadians. Meanwhile, we’re now seeing huge numbers speaking out against the TPP. If we succeed in defeating that deal we can deliver a hammer blow to the attempts of copyright extremists to censor the Internet.
And on top of all this, our team is also working on a number of pieces and systems behind the scenes to ensure our staff are set up for success over the coming year.
So, there’s a lot on the go! And I couldn’t be more excited to have this amazing opportunity to help lead us forward. After all, nothing compares to the clout of OpenMedia’s community. You are truly one-of-a-kind, and I am determined to ensure that all of you are empowered to make your voices heard, and maximize your impact to protect the open Internet.
Before I sign off, I want to echo the words of Phillip Djwa, our Board Chair: “one thing is clear — you, our community, will always be at the heart of everything we do at OpenMedia.” Rest assured that we’ll continue to put our community first, and keep doing everything we can to make sure your voices are heard where it matters most.
Yours for the Internet,