Looking back at 2015: our biggest wins, and the challenges yet to come
2015 was the busiest year in our young organization’s history. Check out what our community achieved together!
It’s been quite a year! Here at OpenMedia there’s a palpable end-of-term feeling around the office, and you can almost sense the team starting to exhale after what’s been the busiest—and most exciting—year in our young organization’s history.
This time a year ago, we knew we were going to be in for quite a ride – but we’d never have guessed just quite how much we’d pack in. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of the last 12 months:
Winning an historic Net Neutrality decision at the U.S. FCC: It’s difficult to imagine that it’s been under a year since we were campaigning full-tilt to save Net Neutrality – the idea that telecom giants shouldn’t be allowed to consign your favourite websites to an Internet slow lane – at the U.S. FCC. We were proud to play our part in what turned into amassive, year-long grassroots campaign involving over 5 million people from across the U.S. and around the globe. We were part of an inspiring coalition of open Internet groups, public interest groups, civil rights organizations and web companies — and we sure pulled out all the stops for this one, even parking a giant Jumbotron in front of the FCC to stream your comments! And, best yet, we won – the FCC ultimately ruled in favour of strong pro-Internet rules that prohibited slow lanes. Check out this Guardian coverage for a trip down memory lane.
Historic win to ensure fibre Internet access from indie ISPs: In a huge win for Internet users, Canada’s CRTC ruled in July that independent Internet providers must be granted access to ultra-fast fibre optic networks. The ruling — which came after months of campaigning and a detailed policy presentation by our own Cynthia Khoo and Josh Tabish — means that Internet users across Canada will be able to access fibre Internet from affordable, indie providers. Even if you don’t live in Canada, the ruling stands as a positive precedent for other countries. Sadly, telecom giant Bell is doing everything they can to undermine the ruling, even invoking a rarely-used parliamentary procedure to get it overturned. In 2016, we’ll need to work hard to stop Bell’s attempt to overturn this win – learn more by checking out this overview from our Josh Tabish.
Rallying a huge international network to push back against the EU’s Link Tax: One of the most dangerous threats to our online free expression this year came from an unusual quarter: the European Commission. Since late last year, the Commission has been pushing a scheme that could effectively place the hyperlink — yes, the basic building block of the Internet — under copyright. Led by Meghan Sali, our team leapt into action, by rallying a broad-based Save The Link network of civil society groups and digital rights experts with the aim of showing the Commission clear public opposition to link censorship. This campaign is still in full swing: already the Commission has acknowledged our concerns and ruled out a tax on basic links.Unfortunately they are pushing ahead with a reckless plan to copyright ‘snippets’, the brief explanatory text that often accompanies links. For more on where we go from here, check out the expert-driven Internet Round Table we hosted earlier this week.
Our pro-Internet community is stronger than ever: It’s become tradition for our small team at this time of year to crunch the numbers and look back at how our community has developed over the past 12 months. This year we’ve been blown away by just how many of you have spoken up and taken action for the free and open Internet we love. Over 234,500 new people joined our community this year - and a warm welcome to you all! Over 797,600 actions were taken using our tools, we’ve seen a 20.8% increase in website visitors, and we now have over 150,000 supporters on social media. (We also estimate the team here consumed 4,692 cups of coffee over the course of the year!)
Those are just a few of the highlights for us, but it’s also true to say we’ve poured a ton of effort into campaigns that are still ongoing, and will continue to be a big priority for us in 2016. Top of the list here is the Trans-Pacific Partnership with its reckless Internet censorship plan and, in Canada, Bill C-51, the reckless spying bill introduced by the previous government despite opposition from over 300,000 Canadians. Stay tuned in 2016, as we’ll have lots more to say on these key issues!
We can never say this often enough: We’d never have achieved any of these wins, or been able to engage effectively on any of these campaigns, without support from you, our community. As community member Hana Brynda told us, “We can accomplish so much. Get organized over the net and change the world for the better!”.
In particular, we want to sincerely thank our OpenMedia Allies, our generous community members who donate monthly to ensure we can sustain our small organization over the long-term. We also want to thank our incredible volunteers—there are too many to name but we’ve had a go here—we couldn’t be more grateful to each and every one of you!
And remember, if you’d like to make a donation or become a monthly ally, you can do so right here– with threats to the free and open Internet set to intensify in 2016, we’ll need your support more than ever.
Because, yes indeed, 2016 is shaping up to be a doozy. We’ll be facing critical challenges on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Net Neutrality, EU copyright rules, Canada’s Bill C-51, and much, much, more. Don’t miss a moment of the action: check in regularly here at OpenMedia.org, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
In the meantime, the whole team here will be taking some down time, so that we can hit the new year refreshed and ready to go. Our office will be closed from December 24th, and we’ll be back in action on Monday January 4th - so until the new year, Happy Holidays everybody!
See you in 2016! :-)