Your OpenMedia Quarterly Roundup: It’s been an action-packed few months!
Check out what your OpenMedia team has been up to in the past three months in our quest to save the Internet that we love.
Welcome to our new Quarterly Roundup — where we take a look at the many things we’ve been up to at OpenMedia recently, and reflect on our wins, challenges, and lessons learned! It’s pretty remarkable just how much can be packed into a short 3 month period, but above all we want to underline that we couldn’t do any of these things without our amazing community of engaged Internet heroes like you!
As our community grows and becomes more global in scope, we’ve been working hard to ensure our small team can grow too. In the last 4 months, we’ve been able to hire three amazing women to fill the positions of Online Community Facilitator, Web Developer and Director of Fund Development. Welcome to the team Marie, Catherine, and Alana! We’re still in the process of hiring a Digital Strategist, and you can help us get the word out!
Plus, our EU liaison Ruth Coustick-Deal is now a full-time EU Campaigner with OpenMedia!
Yes, we have a EU presence.
The OpenMedia community is still growing strong, right across the globe. In fact, as more and more people get engaged with our work, we’re growing at 4 times the pace we did this time last year! Woo-hoo!
Here are some of the reasons why the Internet community keeps choosing OpenMedia to help fight for our digital rights:
My Netflix, My Privacy: To enforce geoblocking, Netflix has begun blocking access to customers who are using VPNs to connect to their service. This move undercuts legitimate privacy tools, and we launched a campaign in response to concerns from our community. The campaign’s messaging has evolved as we incorporated community feedback throughout, and has garnered significant media coverage. We’ve also been conducting great outreach with VPNs to help raise awareness about this campaign. You can speak out and tell Netflix to stand up to Big Media bullies and not block pro-privacy VPN technology here.
New campaign to Stop Stingray Surveillance: Yesterday we launched a brand new *international* campaign on privacy, to stop Stingray cell phone surveillance. Building on recent revelations of Stingray use in the U.S., and around the world, this is a great opportunity to raise awareness on such an important issue.
Canada’s Bill C-51: We’re still calling for a real open consultation on Canada’s reckless and irresponsible spying legislation, Bill C-51.OurSteve and Laura had a good call with Canada’s Minister of Public Safety’s Chief of Staff, opening a positive channel for communication. We have more calls scheduled, and are working to secure an in-person meeting with Minister Goodale in early May. They seem overwhelmed by the scope of this consultation (which will be on broader “national security” reforms), but also committed to making it accessible to the public, and online – our key asks in our letters to Goodale and Trudeau in the fall. We are trying to help shape the consultations themselves, and are also working on a report back to our community.
Working for answers on Stingray use in British Columbia: In Canada, we worked with experts to put together a submission to the British Columbia’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, arguing that the Vancouver Police Department should have to respond to an access to information request from Pivot Legal Society asking about its potential use of Stingray surveillance technology. Other intervenors include the BC Civil Liberties Association, and the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. The use of Stingray technologies in Vancouver is not confirmed, but if the VPD does reveal their use, this would be the first case in Canada and would help set a positive precedent for disclosure throughout the country.
The Internet Emergency rages on. Imagine you have two children, a few years apart in age. For a long while, only the older child received an allowance for their chores. Then, one day, your younger child is now old enough to receive an allowance as well. When the older child hears this, he throws a tantrum, saying he wants all of the allowance money or he'll refuse to help out around the house entirely. Unfortunately, the situation playing out over the future of the Internet in Canada is nearly this childish. Read more here, and join the over 65,000 Canadians who have signed our Internet Emergency campaign.
Stop Blocking New Providers. Canada's big telecom providersRogers and Bell are using obscure legal loopholes to block people from an affordable new cell provider called Sugar Mobile that costs $19 per month. Sign now and tell the CRTC: "Do not cave to Big Telecom’s demands. Stop these giants from blocking innovative and affordable MVNO providers." We also backed up this campaign by making an expert submission to the CRTC arguing for fair open access rules to ensure smaller providers can operate on a level playing field.
Shit Disturbing (and losing) at Ottawa City Council. Our team was disappointed that Ottawa City Council did not pass Councillor Leiper’s Internet affordability motion, following extensive lobbying by Bell. But the fight goes on and we are not giving up, neither should you!
Shit Disturbing (and winning) at Toronto City Council. Toronto City Council sent a strong message to the federal government, as it voted to support a crucial CRTC ruling that aims to ensure Canadians have affordable options for fibre Internet access. The Council backed Councillor Mike Layton’s motion that rejected a previous call by Mayor John Tory for the federal Cabinet to overturn the CRTC’s decision.
Intervening in the CRTC’s Basic Telecommunications Services consultation. February 1st was an important deadline for input into the CRTC’s ongoing Review of basic telecommunications services. In response, your OpenMedia team submitted a detailed, 30-page expert submission outlining the priorities of our community in a way that will be impossible for decision-makers at the CRTC to ignore. You can read our full policy submission here.
On Free Expression
The EU Commission backs down: Carrying forward our work in the EU at the end of 2015, in early 2016 we saw the European Commission start to address the feedback it has received as a part of their consultation on the role of online platforms. In the Commission’s initial assessment, responses made using the Save the Link Internet Voice Tool (IVT) were singled out to receive different treatment than responses from other sources. In the office (I mean that in a distributed sense, as our UK office helped to lead on this file) we responded quickly to the Commission on Twitter and set up a click-to-tweet tool for our IVT respondents to tweet at the Commissioners working on the digital agenda. Thousands of tweets and a day later, the Commission responded directly to our questions, and updated the text on their website to reflect that they would more thoroughly analyze all the comments submitted. While there is no guarantee that those responses will be treated equally with the others, we’re here to make sure the Commission won’t get away with ignoring the voices of Internet users.
Quick response on TPP signing in Canada: on February 4th, the Trade Ministers of the 12 countries party to the TPP met in Auckland, NZ to sign the agreement. Your OpenMedia team worked hard to execute perhaps our quickest response ever to a campaign development, hitting the ‘go live’ button on our Final Battle action the moment the Trade Ministers’ pens touched paper. The campaign brought in thousands of new members to OpenMedia’s community, and generated a significant amount of donations from supporters looking to OpenMedia to provide them with the tools to take our opposition to the TPP to the next level.
The TPP tour: as Canada moves toward a vote on ratification, public opposition to the TPP is ramping up across the country. To help shed light on these concerns, OpenMedia will be sending our Digital Rights Specialist for free expression to two speaking events on the TPP, where we’ll speak to issues of digital policy and innovation and how they will be impacted by the agreement. At the beginning of April, OpenMedia’s Meghan Sali will attend a conference organized by Trade Justice Network, and will be speaking on a panel about what the TPP will mean for our everyday lives. Excitingly, the keynote speaker for this event will be American economist and Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz. Meghan also be travelling to Prince Edward Island at the end of the month to speak on another panel about the TPP, addressing similar issues. Both trips were funded by organizations who reached out to OpenMedia and invited us to participate.
The TPP tool: The Canadian government finally wants to consult its citizens on the TPP. We’re thrilled about this, and built a brand new Let’s Talk TPP tool to help Canadians do just that. Our powerful tool ensures that citizen voices will go right on the public record of the Parliamentary Committee studying the deal. We will also work to create a platform where broad-based opposition to the TPP will gather. Whether you are concerned about digital rights, the environment, labour, healthcare costs, or all of the above, this tool will have something for you!
Mapping threats to the link: we’re almost ready to launch our revolutionary new mapping tool, allowing us to catalogue and systematically address threats to the hyperlink the world over. Since the beginning of the year, OpenMedia has been working with an external developer and designer to create a visually striking, interactive map that will allow us to see where threats to the link are being advanced, and where we can collect feedback from experts and members of our community about what threats they see in their country/region. Not only will we be unveiling this map at the international digital rights conference, RightsCon, in April, but we will also have a brand new tool that we can deploy on any OpenMedia webpage in the future. Yay for new tools!
‘Delivering’ on our work in the EU: we can barely resist squealing in excitement at the thought that we’ll soon have a full-time staff member in the UK, Ruth Coustick-Deal. That’s right, it’s just as exciting as it sounds. One of Ruth’s first campaign deliverables will be to make a formal, physical delivery of the comments made using our Save The Link Internet Voice Tool. The 10,000+ comments will be delivered to the Digital Intergroup of the European Parliament, and will help to solidify our presence and legitimacy in this new space, and will help EU Parliamentarians to argue against terrible restrictions on the right to link coming from the Commission.
In the Meantime...
We hosted a successful event! We hosted the Who Will Win The Digital Revolution? event with John Nichols and Bob McChesney! It was a success - over 220 people (almost a full house) attended, we established relationships with local partners and sponsors, and we have received great feedback from our local community.
We were in the press! We’ve had a very busy start to the year media-wise, with recent highlights including hits in Wired magazine and Torrentfreak for our Netflix campaign, and a nationwide round of CBC Radio interviews on the Canadian CRTC’s recent MVNO decision.
We spoke at the University of British Columbia As part of UBC’s Freedom to Read week,we assisted Library and Archival studies grad students with an event on the implications and effects of the TPP. This helped us establish new relationships with UBC student groups in touch with our issues. If you’d like to bring OpenMedia to your own campus and help us raise awareness about online privacy, Internet access and free expression, let us know at contact [at] openmedia [dot] org.
Phew! If you made it to the end of the list, you now know that saving the Internet we love is not an easy task. But if you keep supporting us, we’ll be able to keep up the fight. Thanks for being there for us, and don’t forget to stay tuned on our website, Facebook, and Twitter for all the latest.
Would you like to do more to help our work? Join our Digital Action Team!