Year-long campaign ends in victory, after massive global coalition unites to stop telecom conglomerates’ plan to force millions of websites into an Internet slow lane.
February 26, 2015 – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has just announced strong new Net Neutrality rules. Experts say the new rules will entrench net neutrality and prevent telecom conglomerates from creating ‘slow lanes’ on the Internet.
The rules came after a massive, year-long grassroots campaign involving over 5 million people from across Canada, the U.S. and the globe. The campaign was organized by an inspiring coalition of open Internet groups, grassroots groups, civil rights organizations and web companies.
Vancouver-based Internet freedom organization OpenMedia, which yesterday parked a giant Jumbotron opposite the FCC to stream citizen comments, is hailing the FCC’s announcement as a historic victory for Internet users everywhere that will have positive implications for Canadians. The group helped spearhead international efforts to defend net neutrality.
February 25, 2015: Canadian spy agency CSE is collecting and storing millions of private emails that Canadians send to the government, including emails sent to Members of Parliament. The content of the emails are being stored for months, with deeply revealing metadata about them held for years. That’s according to reports this morning on CBC News and The Intercept, sourced from documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Responding to the news, OpenMedia’s communications manager David Christopher said: “These fresh revelations are further proof of how CSE recklessly disregards the privacy of Canadians. While government cybersecurity is important, there is clearly no cybersecurity need to retain people’s private information for months or even years.”
With historic Net Neutrality decision imminent, OpenMedia and huge coalition park Jumbotron opposite FCC HQ in Washington D.C., to stream images, messages, and videos submitted by tens of thousands of Internet users
February 25, 2015 – When staff at the FCC look out the window today, they’ll see the Internet looking right back at them. In advance of tomorrow’s crucial FCC Net Neutrality decision, OpenMedia and a huge Internet freedom coalition are parking a giant Jumbotron opposite the agency’s headquarters in Washington D.C. The Jumbotron will be streaming images, messages, videos, and memes submitted by tens of thousands of Internet users via an online tool at StopTheSlowdown.net.
The FCC is poised to decide whether to allow telecom companies to create slow lanes on the Internet. The Jumbotron will be part of a range of activity outside the FCC building, as Internet freedom advocates gather from all over the U.S. and the globe. Over five million people, including President Obama, have called on the FCC to defend real Net Neutrality. Comments made by FCC chair Tom Wheeler earlier this month prompted cautious optimism from open Internet advocates.
In an effort to make Internet services more like cable TV, Bell is trying to overturn a CRTC decision forcing the company to respect net neutrality and treat independent video services fairly on their network
February 23, 2015 – Over the weekend, OpenMedia learned that Bell Mobility filed a motion with the Federal Court of Appeal in an attempt to reverse a recent CRTC decision that found the company to be unlawfully making competing mobile video apps and services more expensive. In the filing, Bell names several individual Canadians, including concerned citizen Ben Klass who originally filed a complaint about Bell’s practices with the CRTC in November 2013, as well as several public interest groups.
In January, the CRTC ruled that companies like Bell must stop exempting their own services from users’ monthly data caps – marking up competing video services by up to 800%. Bell was given until April 29 to stop the practice and respect net neutrality, but they are now challenging the decision.
Vancouver-based Internet freedom group OpenMedia, with support from diverse coalition, including Daily Kos, Tumblr, Fark, The Center for Media Justice, Roots Action, and The Nation, to park giant Jumbotron outside FCC headquarters and stream thousands of messages and images from citizens
February 18, 2015 – Internet users have a new way to ensure their voice is heard, in the run-up to the U.S. FCC’s crucial Net Neutrality decision next week. Internet freedom group OpenMedia, backed by a huge coalition including Daily Kos, Roots Action, The Nation, Tumblr, and others, will park a giant Jumbotron opposite FCC headquarters. The Jumbotron will stream messages and images submitted by Internet users through an online tool going live today at StopTheSlowdown.net.
The campaign aims to pressure the FCC to prevent telecom conglomerates creating slow lanes on the Internet - a move that would especially impact Canadians as so much of our Internet traffic travels in and out of the U.S. In recent months, over 5.1 million people have spoken out to protest this slow lane plan. The FCC will not accept formal comments from the public in the remaining time leading up to their February 26 decision, so the giant Jumbotron will be the most direct way people can reach them.
New measures to undermine privacy proposed just days after the government’s spy agency CSE revealed to be spying on private online activities of law-abiding Canadians on a massive scale
January 30, 2015 – The federal government’s just announced Bill C-51 will further undermine Canadians’ privacy while doing nothing to address privacy violations revealed just days ago. That’s according to digital rights group OpenMedia.ca, which is leading a nationwide coalition calling for stronger privacy protections. Over 46,000 people have spoken out recently through OpenMedia privacy campaigns calling on Prime Minister Harper to end mass surveillance and improve spy agency accountability and transparency.
Bill C-51 will give spy agencies new powers to access Canadians’ private information, including passport application information and sensitive commercial data. The legislation will also override privacy protections in multiple pieces of legislation to increase information sharing between government agencies, which has prompted the federal Privacy Commissioner to speak out. It also greatly expands the domestic powers of CSIS, including the power to place Canadians on a no fly list.
“Experts and even Stephen Harper himself agree that targeted intelligence is more effective than dragnet surveillance of entire populations”, said David Christopher, OpenMedia.ca’s communications manager. “Yet this plan appears to further encourage reckless sharing of our sensitive private information rather than providing a clear path for effective targeted action.”
Following case taken by concerned Canadians and public interest groups, CRTC says mobile providers cannot markup independent services like Netflix to give their own content an unfair advantage
January 29, 2015 – A landmark decision from the CRTC today has determined that Bell Mobility unlawfully made competing mobile apps and services more expensive for Canadians by unfairly exempting their own services from monthly data caps. The CRTC directed Bell to stop their unlawful practice in the next 90 days. The ruling sets a precedent for mobile providers across Canada.
Canadian spy agency has been caught monitoring over 100 popular file-storage websites, spying on millions of downloads a day, with Canadian Internet addresses among the targets
January 28, 2015 – Canadian spy agency CSE is indiscriminately monitoring the private online activities of millions of Internet users, including Canadians. According to CBC News and The Intercept, CSE monitored over 100 popular file hosting websites, including RapidShare and SendSpace, spying on millions of downloads a day. They also collected millions of IP addresses of individual users, with a number of Canadian Internet addresses among the targets.
Findings from the program are collected and shared with foreign spy agencies. All of this activity has been undertaken without users’ knowledge or consent. The program, named LEVITATION, dates back to at least 2012, while Peter MacKay was the Defence Minister responsible for CSE. The news breaks as MacKay, now Justice Minister, prepares to announce new measures to undermine Canadians’ privacy in legislation expected to be unveiled on Friday.
“CSE is clearly spying on the private online activities of millions of innocent people, including Canadians, despite repeated government assurances to the contrary”, said OpenMedia.ca communications manager David Christopher. “Law-abiding Internet users who use popular file hosting services are now finding themselves under the government’s microscope.”
Internet advocates celebrate Obama’s move, and point to it as the type of action required to get Canada’s Internet rates and speeds on par with global counterparts.
January 14, 2015 – Internet advocates are celebrating this afternoon’s announcement from the Obama Administration pushing for common-sense steps to stop U.S. telecom giants from blocking American Internet users from more affordable Internet services. The news comes on the heels of the U.S. FCC increasing minimum Internet speeds over six times from 4Mbps to 25Mbps.
President Obama urged the FCC to override outdated laws in 19 states preventing independent options for Internet services, and called for new funding for municipal and rural broadband. Community-backed digital rights organization OpenMedia.ca says Canadian decision-makers should be embarrassed when comparing today’s announcement with Canada’s widely criticized and unambitious digital strategy, which set out minimum speeds of just 5 Mbps by 2019.
Within days of new copyright rules coming into force, U.S. copyright trolls started asking ISPs to pass on threatening and misleading messages to their customers. Copyright expert Michael Geist posted samples on his blog that threatened a $150,000 lawsuit and disconnection from the Internet – neither of which are possible under Canadian law.
The pricing changes could make access costs nearly double for smaller ISPs. Community-backed OpenMedia.ca sees this as an attempt to block Canadians from the few affordable alternatives they have. Right now, large incumbent telecom providers like Shaw control 90% of the residential broadband market. However, Shaw’s proposed 87.9% rate hike still needs to be approved by the CRTC.
Government needs to take action to prevent foreign Big Media companies from sending misleading notices that threaten $150,000 lawsuits and disconnection from the Internet
January 8, 2015 – Less than a week after new copyright rules went into effect in Canada, ISPs are already receiving notices from Big Media giants that contain misleading and threatening statements, according to top copyright expert Professor Michael Geist. In a blog this morning, Geist included a copy of one such notice that was forwarded to him by a Canadian ISP.
For example, where $60 a month purchased a 25 Mbps service in 2014, it will purchase just a 15 Mbps service in 2015 - a drop in speed of 40%. Existing customers will also experience steep 10% price hikes - or five times the rate of inflation. Responding to the news, OpenMedia’s Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had this to say:
“Canadians hoping to keep a lid on their household expenses as one of their New Year’s resolutions are in for a shock. When the rumour first broke, Shaw assured us that that this was all a big misunderstanding. Well the proof is in the pudding – and today Shaw served up some pretty expensive pudding. And, if history is any indication, others like Bell, Rogers, and Telus will soon follow. ”
In response to outcry for Canadians, Industry Canada has taken steps to ensure Canadians have greater access to affordable, independent wireless providers
December 18, 2014 – Industry Minister James Moore has announced new measures aimed at improving wireless service for Canadians. OpenMedia welcomes the announcement, which will reserve a larger section of valuable wireless spectrum for new, independent, affordable providers than ever before. The changes aim to increase the amount of spectrum available to independent providers from around 15% currently to nearly 25% by May 2015.
Following years-long campaign, CRTC is now empowered to levy financial penalties against telecom providers who mistreat customers
December 17, 2014 –This morning’s announcement of new powers allowing the CRTC to impose financial penalties against companies caught violating the Telecommunications Act comes in response to a key request made by OpenMedia in its crowdsourced Casting An Open Internet action plan. The plan called on government to “permit the CRTC to levy administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) that can be used to enforce transparency requirements and regulations.”
OpenMedia Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had this to say about the announcement:
“We are pleased to see the government has granted overseers at the CRTC enforcement powers to ensure telecom companies who break the rules are penalized. We’re thrilled that James Moore has responded to another of the ten major policy asks we put forward when he first became Industry Minister. These new powers are a great response to hundreds of thousands of Canadians who participated in our crowdsourced policy plans for wired and mobile Internet in Canada.”
“Canadian Internet users everywhere ought to be outraged that Big Telecom giants like Shaw are trying to charge customers more money for slower Internet. Make no mistake: if Shaw gets away with this, others like Bell, Rogers, and Telus will soon follow. Canadians are already paying some of the highest prices in the world for what many know is horrible service. Shaw should stop being such a grinch and immediately reverse these service cuts and price-hikes.”
Fundraising drive challenges tech community to step up and defend the free and open Internet with matching donations up to $50,000
December 11, 2014: Leaders from the Vancouver tech community have launched a year-end fundraising #StepUp4Net campaign challenging people from the tech and business community to donate to non-profit digital rights organization OpenMedia.
Several organizations have agreed to provide matching funds of up to $50,000.
“Everyone has benefited from the expression, innovation, and business opportunities enabled by the open Internet,” said OpenMedia.org Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Sadly, the Internet as we know it is increasingly under threat. I'm grateful that leaders in the tech community have been generous enough to encourage support for our non-profit work.”
December 11, 2014: This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled narrowly that police are permitted to conduct warrantless cell phone searches of people they arrest. Community-based OpenMedia, which has rallied a large pro-privacy coalition of over 60 organizations, says the ruling reinforces the need for much stronger legal protections to safeguard the privacy of Canadians.
“Sadly, today’s ruling looks like a real setback for the privacy of Canadians,” said OpenMedia.ca’s communications manager David Christopher. “Our cell phones often store huge amounts of deeply revealing information about our private lives. Cell phone searches can be even more revealing than a police officer coming into somebody’s home and searching through their personal materials, which has long required a warrant. It’s very disappointing that the Supreme Court, albeit narrowly, decided to permit such intrusive warrantless searches.”
Demands grow to release full text of Trans-Pacific Partnership to enable public debate about proposals that would make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed
Thursday December 11, 2014 – As Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks continue in Washington, D.C., negotiators are set to feel the heat from public interest groups outraged at the secrecy surrounding the talks. The organizations say it’s past time for TPP negotiators to follow the example of the European Commission which recently released to the public the draft text of a similar Trans-Atlantic deal.
The TPP is an international deal being negotiated in near-total secrecy by 12 Pacific Rim nations including the U.S. and Canada. Based on what we know from leaked drafts, experts say the TPP contains extreme copyright rules that would make the Internet far more expensive, policed, and censored. A letter from a diverse group of 40 major organizations from 11 TPP nations demanding greater transparency will be delivered directly to key negotiators by Meghan Sali from Internet freedom group OpenMedia.
Canadians are urging the CRTC to ensure access to affordable, independent Internet providers
December 1, 2014 – Canadians are sending a clear message to decision-makers at the CRTC today: protect our right to affordable, independent, high-speed Internet. That message is being delivered by community-based OpenMedia.ca, who will be making a presentation to the CRTC’s Review of Wholesale Services hearing in Gatineau between 12 noon and 3pm ET today. OpenMedia’s presentation will reflect input crowdsourced from over 30,000 Canadians.
The crucial CRTC hearing will determine whether Canadians will have independent access to fibre Internet. At the moment large incumbent telecoms control the market for fibre Internet and control over 90% of slower broadband market. According to the OECD, just 3% of Canadian Internet users currently use ultra-fast fibre Internet, compared to nearly 70% in Japan.
Posted by David Christopher on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 14:57
Calling all Canadians! Join us for our Facebook Town Hall on privacy issues, taking place on Facebook at 4pm PT / 7pm ET later today.
We'll have expert guests from the Protect our Privacy Coalition, including Tom Henheffer from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and OpenMedia's own Steve Anderson.
Canada is facing a privacy crisis: the government's spying bill C-13 and the activities of their spy agency CSEC threaten to undermine the privacy of all Canadians. It's never been more important to have a robust debate about how we address our stark privacy deficit.
High-profile figures including Margaret Atwood and Jean Chretien among the victims of latest in a long string of government privacy breaches affecting over 725,000 of us
November 25, 2014– Highly personal information about the financial and tax affairs of hundreds of prominent Canadians was handed by the government to a CBC journalist, according to a CBC report out today.
High-profile figures including author Margaret Atwood and former prime minister Jean Chretien were among the victims. Responding to the news, OpenMedia.ca says this underlines the need for far stronger safeguards to protect the private lives of all Canadians.
OpenMedia.ca communications manager David Christopher said: “If famous Canadians can have their senstive information leaked by the government then we all have reason to worry. It’s no wonder that everyday Canadians just don’t trust the government’s reckless approach to their privacy. Canadians entrust hugely sensitive and private information to the government, and they expect that trust to be respected. It is absolutely appalling that deeply revealing financial information can be handed to a journalist by the government’s tax agency.”
The report in Motherboard suggests this system will feature “real-time monitoring and analysis of social media content including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, chatrooms, message boards, social networks and video and image sharing websites”. Responding to the news, OpenMedia.ca communications manager David Christopher said:
“When people post on Facebook they believe they’re sharing with their family and friends. They certainly don’t want everything they say to be tracked, stored, and analyzed by faceless government bureaucrats in Ottawa.” Read more »
OpenMedia commends Obama’s commitment to strong rules that would protect the open Internet, including Canadian Internet users and businesses.
November 10, 2014 – This morning U.S. President Barack Obama released a decisive statement urging the FCC to use the strongest measures possible to ensure strong net neutrality rules in the U.S. that would keep the Internet an open playing field, stating “no service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane’ because it does not pay a fee.”
OpenMedia welcomes this strong statement from the President, as recent rumors reported in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the FCC was still considering rules allowing slow lanes online. In his statement, President Obama directly refers to Title II reclassification, a strong and enforceable approach that Internet freedom advocates - including OpenMedia - have been fighting to implement for the past year, saying: “I'm asking the FCC to classify Internet services under Title II of the law known as the Telecommunications Act.”
November 6, 2014 – In response to this morning’s announcement by the CRTC regarding new rules that will allow Canadians to cancel or change their Internet, television, or telephone services without giving 30-day notice, OpenMedia.ca Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish said,
“We are pleased to see that the first decision coming out of the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV consultation is a positive step forward for Canadians. During the consultation, we spoke with thousands of Canadians who expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of choice and flexibility in offerings from the Big Telecom providers. But now we’re able to move between service providers more easily without being penalized.”
Tabish continued, “The reason we won these new rules is because Canadians spoke out together. Last year, we were able to win similar rules for mobile phone users through the CRTC’s cell phone code of conduct. And now we’ve gotten them extended to wireline Internet, phone, and TV services. This is a significant step forward, but the CRTC still needs to take bold steps to ensure all Canadians can access a wider range of affordable independent options for telecom and media services.” Read more »
CCTS Annual Report reveals sharp 74% rise in complaints about misleading wireless contracts. Bell and its subsidiaries accounted for over 40% of all telecom complaints.
November 4, 2014 – Mistreatment of Canadian telecom customers is still running rampant, according to official figures released today by the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). The CCTS Annual Report revealed that unhappy Canadians complained 11,340 times last year about their telecom service, the 2nd highest total of the past five years.
The Big Three - Bell, Rogers, and Telus, along with their subsidiaries - accounted for 77% of all complaints, with Bell alone accounting for over 40% of the total. Independent providers received considerably fewer complaints - the largest, Wind Mobile, accounted for just 4.5% of all complaints.
“It’s ridiculous that Canadians are still at the receiving end of such appalling mistreatment from the telecom giants,” said OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “This report makes clear that despite our sky high prices, Canadians are still experiencing some of the worst wireless service in the industrialized world.” Read more »
Privacy advocates hail Joyce Murray’s Private Members Bill as a step forward to boost transparency, oversight, and accountability for secretive spy agency CSEC
October 30, 2014 – Today, Members of Parliament will have an historic opportunity to start reining in Canada’s secretive spy agency CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada). Community-based OpenMedia.ca is calling on MPs from all parties to throw their support behind a Private Members Bill proposed by Liberal MP Joyce Murray.
MPs are set to debate the bill in the House of Commons later today. Calls for reform have been growing since it was revealed earlier this year that CSEC had spied on thousands of law-abiding Canadian air travellers and tracked their precise movements around the world.
The CSEC Accountability and Transparency Act would give MPs stronger powers of oversight and review over CSEC’s activities. It would also improve CSEC’s public reporting obligations, and require the Minister responsible for CSEC to obtain a Federal Court order whenever there is a reasonable expectation that CSEC might collect the protected information of Canadians at home or abroad. Read more »
Responding to the government’s tabling in Parliament of Bill C-44, which proposes new powers for spy agency CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service), OpenMedia executive director Steve Anderson said:
“Canadians don’t want to see last Wednesday’s tragic events to make us lose sight of the democratic values we all cherish. It’s never been more important to strike a balanced approach that safeguards the rights and freedoms we hold dear. That’s why we’ll be working with experts to analyse the potential privacy implications of this bill. We’re also very concerned about reports the government is preparing draconian new laws that could criminalize what Canadians say online.”
Anderson continued: “Sadly, given this government’s terrible track record on privacy, it’s never been more important for Canadians to stand together to ensure our freedoms are upheld. Our organization is working with thousands of everyday Canadians to help shape a positive, pro-privacy plan for sensible privacy safeguards that work for all of us in the 21st century. This is a far better way forward than proposing new spying powers without even consulting Canadians first.” Read more »
Following official confirmation from the Competition Bureau that the Big Three are artificially keeping prices high, OpenMedia and CIPPIC's joint submission to the CRTC sets out common sense steps for fixing Canada’s broken wireless market
October 24, 2014: Bold measures are required to reduce cell phone bills, rein in the Big Three, and fix Canada’s broken wireless market. That’s the message of a detailed policy submission to the CRTC by CIPPIC and community-based OpenMedia.ca, which is running a nationwide Unblock Canada campaign aimed at lowering prices and improving wireless choice for Canadians.
Launch of new pro-privacy crowdsourcing initiative comes just days after Peter MacKay’s online spying Bill C-13 passes House of Commons, and follows over a year of revelations about the activities of Canada’s spy agency CSEC
October 22, 2014 – Canadians are working together to shape a new pro-privacy action plan to help address the government’s privacy deficit. That’s the message of a new crowdsourcing initiative that aims to gather the views of everyday Canadians and Internet users about priorities for privacy online. The project is led by community-based OpenMedia.ca, which is leading a diverse national pro-privacy coalition supported by over 60 organizations and 40,000 Canadians.
The new crowdsourcing tool includes a drag-and-drop feature enabling Canadians to set out their priorities when it comes to privacy, and also seeks citizen input on a wide range of privacy issues. Feedback from the tool will be analyzed and used to shape a crowdsourced set of key policy recommendations for decision-makers early next year, with input from privacy experts across the country. The launch of the tool comes just days after Peter MacKay’s spying legislation Bill C-13 passed the House of Commons on Monday, and follows over a year of revelations about how Canada’s spy agency CSEC has monitored law-abiding Canadians. Read more »