What a year it’s been! With your support, our small and nimble team here at OpenMedia.ca have worked hard to safeguard the possibilities of an open, affordable, and surveillance-free Internet.

We’ve taken on powerful Big Telecom giants – winning important new customer protection rulesthat force them to better respect cell phone users. We’ve challenged the extreme agenda of U.S. old industry lobbyists who are using the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as an excuse to ram through a secretive and extreme Internet censorship plan. And we’ve sounded the alarm about how unaccountable spy agencies are recklessly spending taxpayer billions while damaging democracy here at home, and Canada’s relationship with important friends and allies abroad.

Here are just some highlights from our work last year:

Standing up to Big Telecom:

 – Amplifying your call for wireless choice – In January, we launched our Demand Choicecampaign to ensure that scarce and valuable wireless spectrum was set aside for much-needed new entrants to Canada’s broken wireless market. Over 60,000 Canadians spoke out, and newly released internal government memos show our campaign has really had an impact, with Industry Canada ruling out any transfer of new entrant spectrum to the Big Three.

– Winning new protections for wireless customers – Working with Canadians, we wonpositive new customer protection rules to protect cell phone users from the worst abuses of Big Telecom. The new rules were announced in June and, as of December 2nd, are now in effect for all new wireless contracts. This shows that good things happen when Canadians speak out!

– Working with you to build a positive way forward – We worked with people right across Canada to develop a crowd-sourced road map – Time for an Upgrade. This plan we wrote together offers a clear way forward to open our networks and stop Big Telecom blocking Canadians from affordable wireless options. Tell Industry Minister James Moore it’s time to implement this action plan and rein in Big Telecom gatekeepers.


Speaking out against TPP Internet Censorship:

 – Building an international Coalition against TPP censorship – Since Canada first entered Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in 2012, we’ve been speaking out – online and on the ground – to sound the alarm about how the TPP would make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed. That’s why, in May, OpenMedia led the creation of the Our Fair Deal Coalition – to bring together over 25 major organizations from right across the Trans-Pacific region to push back against U.S. attempts to censor your Internet.

– Rallying over 100,000 people to speak out – In September, as TPP leaders prepared to meet in Bali, Indonesia, we launched an online action to tell them to “Say NO to Internet Censorship”. The campaign went viral almost immediately – within a week, over 100,000 citizens spoke out to send a clear message to decision-makers. We used the resulting media coverage to keep up the pressure – and, so far, this citizen pressure has prevented the U.S. from ramming through their extreme plan to kick entire families off the net for merely being accused of copyright infringement.

– Shaping a 21st century alternative to Internet censorship – At OpenMedia, we know it’s not enough to just sound the alarm about threats to the Internet – it’s important to build a positive alternative that’s impossible for decision-makers to ignore. That’s why we worked with our Coalition partners to launch your open, crowd-sourced alternative to the closed and secretive TPP talks. Thousands have already shared their vision for a fair digital future using our Digital Future tool and our innovative, drag-and-drop crowdsourcing tool. In 2014, we’ll be pulling all this valuable input into a positive, citizen-driven plan to enable sharing, creation, and free expression online.

– Our Internet Townhall – everything we do at OpenMedia is driven by you, the community. That’s why we recently threw an online gathering to let everyone know the next steps forward for creating fair and balanced rules for Internet users everywhere. We were delighted with how many people – from all across the world – took part, peppering our team with questions about the best way forward. If you missed it the first time, we’ve got the discussion right here for you to watch again in full.


Protecting our privacy from government spies:

 – Winning the fight against Vic Toews’ spying bill – As 2013 opened, we were in the midst of our Stop Spying campaign, aimed at stopping Bill C-30 – Vic Toews’ warrantless, invasive, and costly Internet surveillance scheme. Over 150,000 Canadians spoke up and by February the government had heard enough – they backed down and it wasn’t long before Vic Toews announced he was leaving politics entirely.

– Taking a stand against secret spying – In June, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealedhow giant U.S. spy agency the NSA was monitoring the private communications of hundreds of millions of law-abiding citizens around the world. It rapidly became clear that Canada’s own spy agency, CSEC, was playing an active role alongside the NSA. Your OpenMedia.ca team swung into action, launching an online campaign within days of the news first breaking. Since then over 27,000 Canadians have taken action to call for an end to secret spying on innocent citizens.

– Forming Canada’s largest-ever privacy coalition – With threats to our privacy multiplying, we reached out to over 40 major organizations to launch the Protect Our Privacy Coalition. We’re working with groups and experts from right across the political spectrum to demand effective legal protections to safeguard the privacy of every resident of Canada from government intrusion. Thousands of Canadians have joined the Coalition – and you can too, by adding your name at http://OurPrivacy.ca

– Going to court to stop illegal government spying – In October, we joined with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) to announce a constitutional challenge that aims to stop all illegal spying on Canadians. The challenge was filed in the B.C. Supreme Court, with thousands of Canadians pledging their support. At OpenMedia we’ll be campaigning hard throughout 2014 to rein in our secretive, expensive, and out-of-control spy agency CSEC. Stand with us at https://OpenMedia.ca/CSEC

– Speaking out to stop Peter MacKay’s mass surveillance scheme – It seems this government just can’t stop invading your privacy. The dust had barely settled on Vic Toews’ failed Bill C-30, when up stepped Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who resurrected Vic Toews’ online spying plan under the guise of supposedly tackling cyberbullying. We think it’s totally disrespectful for the government to use bullied kids as an excuse to reintroduce legislation that over 150,000 Canadians have already clearly rejected – and we’ll be working throughout 2014 to put a stop to MacKay’s extreme online spying scheme.

At OpenMedia.ca we’re all about building an Internet freedom community of users, civil society organizations, and web entrepreneurs. We believe the best way to defend the Internet is through mass collaboration using social media and innovative online tools. We believe in participatory democracy that aims to open government processes by crowdsourcing policy change.

And remember – none of this would be possible without continuing support from you – our growing OpenMedia community. 2014 is already shaping up as a year that could decide the future of the free and open Internet. We know we have huge battles ahead against Big Telecom, Internet censorship, and secret spying. Our opponents have massive financial resources – whereas your small OpenMedia team relies on generous Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Right now we’re in the middle of our crucial year-end fundraising drive – a drive that will determine just how well we can resource vital campaign work in 2014. Can you play your part by joining us as an OpenMedia monthly donor ally today?

Thank you for all that you do to keep the Internet free and open – let’s keep working together to tackle the challenges ahead in 2014.


David Christopher

David Christopher

David Christopher is the Communications Manager of OpenMedia.ca and writes regularly for the organization. He’s from the west of Ireland and holds a degree from Trinity College Dublin, where he...