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Together We Accomplished a Lot: 2018 Year in Review

As the new year begins we look back at everything we’ve accomplished together in 2018 for online access, privacy and free expression. None of this would have been possible without our amazing community — THANK YOU!

As we kickstart the new year after the holidays, we have a longstanding tradition of looking back to all that we've accomplished to defend digital rights over the past year — in big part, thanks to people like you!

From defeating Bell’s nationwide website blocking proposal at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), to making headlines by bringing your questions to Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wylie’s testimony before Parliament, to rallying hundreds of thousands to speak out against the secretive and undemocratic NAFTA renegotiations; we’ve sure had our hands full fighting for digital rights last year.

But as another year goes by there is one thing that hasn’t changed — and that’s the incredible support from our growing pro-Internet community, who is the backbone of all of our hard work. Thank you so much for being a part of this movement. We couldn’t do any of it without support from thousands of people like you!

Now, let’s take a look at some of our biggest achievements in 2018 across our three pillars of the open Internet: Access, privacy and freedom of expression.

Access

  • Over 70,000 submissions were sent to the CRTC through DontCensor.ca in opposition to FairPlay Canada, an overreaching website blocking scheme led by Bell. If implemented, the plan would give Bell and a handful of other corporations the power to blacklist websites across Canada without court oversight. When Bell tried to sneak a similar proposal into NAFTA months before, over 26,000 people in Canada spoke out.

  • We organized a national day of action in February against Bell’s website blocking plan backed by a coalition of more than 30 organizations and businesses — including digital rights groups, library associations, independent Internet service providers and civil liberties organizations.

  • With your help, we put up a massive 30 by 40 feet billboard right in Toronto’s Yonge and Dundas square protesting Bell’s attempt to censor our Internet with their sweeping website blocking plan that caught the media’s attention.

  • Following a huge outcry from the public, the CRTC listened to people in Canada and rejected Bell’s website blocking proposal, kicking the decision to the Copyright Act and Broadcast and Telecommunications Act reviews.

  • After Big Telecom behemoths proposed their low-cost data-only plans without the low prices to match, over 8,000 people in Canada loudly rejected them.

  • Finally, after years of endless horror stories, Big Telecom’s bad sales practices were put under the spotlight with a CRTC investigation.

  • The federal government launched a massive review into the Telecom and Broadcasting acts. So far, over 7,000 people have voiced their support to keep an open Internet at the heart of Canada’s communication policy.

  • Over 12,000 people signed on to OpenMedia’s submission to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opposing the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. This merger will lead to less choice and higher wireless prices for people in the United States.

  • Over 9,000 OpenMedia community members joined over 130,000 people who called on congress to pass the Congressional Review Act resolution aimed at overturning the FCC’s decision to repeal Net Neutrality. While we didn’t get resolution passed in 2018, we built momentum to pass legislation in the new congress that can restore Net Neutrality in the U.S.

Privacy

  • Over 4,500 messages have been sent to Canadian Senators asking for Bill C-59 to be amended to stop CSIS from being granted overreaching offensive and defensive cyber powers.

  • 8,400 people sent a message to Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, to ask her to amend Bill C-76 (the elections reform bill) to include making political parties subject to privacy laws. Your voices were delivered to her and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

  • OpenMedia presented to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC), asking that Bill C-76 be reformed, to make political parties subject to privacy laws. On top of that, nearly 9,000 people sent messages to their MPs and Senators asking for this amendment.

  • Over 1,200 people made submissions to the Government of Canada’s public National Digital and Data consultation, which will inform future policy on topics like big data, data privacy, and the digital economy.

  • Before Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified in front of a Canadian Parliamentary Committee, we asked our community what questions you wanted answers to regarding Facebook and our privacy. Then, your questions were submitted to MPs. One of your questions was asked to Wylie during his testimony and also ended up making its way into news headlines.  

  • Over 7,000 people in Canada messaged their MPs to ask for the Privacy Act to be reformed in light of Statistics Canada’s proposal to gain access to our most intimate and personal financial data without our knowledge or consent. Hundreds more have filed Personal Information Requests to find out if their information has already been accessed. In light of this pressure, Statistics Canada recently announced they’re putting their new data collection proposal on hold.

  • Over 7,00 people in Australia were able to submit comments to the government consultation on the Assistance and Access Bill, while almost 40,000 people across the world have sent their message to leaders of the Five Eyes countries to protect our right to encryption.

  • 6,500 people in the U.S. submitted comments to the public consultation on changes to the U.S. visa application system which require social media information from millions of visa-seekers in order to qualify.

Free Expression

  • Over 29,000 people spoke from across North America spoke out against the new NAFTA’s threats to digital rights. We also delivered over 55,000 voices directly to Minister Freeland’s back in February when it became clear that our digital rights were at stake again under NAFTA.

  • Over 4,400 OpenMedia community members submitted their views on the Copyright Act review via our tool at Let’sTalkCopyright.ca to make sure our future copyright laws help creators, and support an open Internet that isn’t censored by legacy corporations.

  • OpenMedia was invited to testify in person before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) in October as part of the Copyright Act review. You can be assured we brought your key comments and concerns straight to the key decision makers on the committee.

  • We helped rally more than 750,000 citizens in the European Union to take action to oppose the Link Tax and Censorship Machines via the Save the Link and Save Your Internet campaigns combined!

And that’s a wrap for 2018!

Be sure there will be no shortage of battles to take on in 2019, but we know we can count on you to stand with us. We're gearing up to keep up the progress we've made and we are really excited about a new project we'll be launching in early 2019 to build Canada's first national broadband strategy. So stay tuned!