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Our Best Plans: weekly news update from OpenMedia

Lindsey Pinto
Mar 21st, 2013

Another round of negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP—an international agreement that we're calling an "Internet trap"—finished in Singapore last week.

Now many of you know that the TPP is hugely problematic for our digital future. It's being negotiated behind closed doors and circumventing democratic processes, it puts way too much power in the hands of Big Media conglomerates, and it could criminalize many everyday uses of the Internet.

As supporter Anto Filikian put it, "this is much bigger than simple rules and restrictions. They want to silence the world!"

We at OpenMedia been working hard to ensure citizen voices are heard through the StopTheTrap.net campaign and other means, but we know that the best ideas always come from you: the Internet freedom community.

So this week, we asked you to give input on social media and through a discussion hosted on Reddit, and many of you chimed in with ideas, words of encouragement, and exciting new ways to talk about the issue.

Stopping the internet meter: weekly news update from OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Mar 1st, 2013

Photo of OpenMedia Street Team courtesy of OpenMedia.ca facebook page

Who remembers the Stop The Meter campaign?

It was awesome. It was arguably OpenMedia.ca's first big big big campaign—although not the first one that ended with a win—where over half-a-million Canadians spoke out against Big Telecom putting a pay-meter on the Internet across the entire frigging country.

Stop The Meter ended up forcing the government to tell the CRTC to go back to the drawing board on this punitive model—known as usage-based billing or UBB—over the summer in 2011, and the result was a new structure for Big Telecom and their independent competitors that makes ..way more sense.

But of course we got into the weeds, and indie ISPs were noting that Big Telecom had hiked prices on them. So we asked the CRTC for more transparency from Big Telecom, which we got in the fall, and for those prices to be grounded in ..well... reality.

Canadians need more cell phone plan choices: update from OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Jan 31st, 2013

There's some big news this week that could affect the future of choice and affordability when it comes to your cell phones.

The story behind the first item I want to mention starts back in 2008, when big telecom company Shaw was able to acquire resources that the government had set aside for startups and small companies looking to create new cell phone options for Canadians.

Now, Shaw of course is one of Canada's biggest telecom companies, but they would technically have been new to the wireless market, so they were able to take advantage of the government's attempt to create choice.

But now it's five years later, and not only has Shaw failed to provide Canadians with a new cell phone service, they're taking the resources they got as a "new entrant" and they're selling them to Canada's biggest cell phone company -- Rogers.

The long and short: Big Telecom took control of assets that were promised to create new independent choices, and are using them to give Big Telecom more control.

Complaints about internet service providers limiting online choice nearly double: OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Jan 25th, 2013

The CRTC—the body in charge of telecom in Canada—released a status report showing that complaints about ISPs limiting online choice have almost doubled since last year.

So what does this mean? Well first and foremost, give yourselves a pat on the back, pro-Internet Canadians: more of you than ever are aware of how Internet traffic management should work to enable online choice, and have taken action when you see telecom companies breaking the rules. This is clearly the result of a growing community that cares about Internet openness, feels empowered to take action, and spreads that engagement to other Canadians.

It is, of course, ridiculous that the onus is put on Internet users to know network management rules and jump through all kinds of hoops to file complaints. The CRTC should be enforcing their own rules--this is something we've been asking for years.

But you have been effective. Big telecom companies Rogers and Bell both agreed—after some ..controversy—to stop the practice of slowing down ("throttling") online content and applications on their networks.

Ottawa Under Pressure: Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Oct 4th, 2012

As Canada gets tied in more and more tightly to the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, an industry lobby group called the International Intellectual Property Alliance (or IIPA) is pressuring the U.S. to pressure Canada to tighten Internet restrictions.

According to law expert Michael Geist, their plain-language demand is for Canada to adopt "a termination system that would cut off Internet access for subscribers accused of infringement" – very obviously, overzealously protecting Big Media's assets to the detriment of citizens.

The IIPA also wants Canada to remove our cap on how much a person can be fined if they break copyright (and we're talking about non-commercial infringement here, which often falls into the category of 'everyday uses of the Internet'). With our digital economy lagging, this just isn't something Canada Internet users can afford.

A Notable Absence: Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Sep 20th, 2012

If you noticed some excitement in the air on Monday, it may have been because Parliament has just resumed for the fall! Already, the pro-Internet community has one thing to be proud of this time around: the Conservative Government's legislative agenda for the fall includes several bills, with one notable exclusion: online spying Bill C-30.

A quick refresher: this is the bill that would allow authorities to force ISPs to create giant, costly, unsecured data registries, and hand over the private information of any Canadian, at any time, without a warrant.

Its exclusion from this season's priority list is a neat little victory for the thousands of you who signed the StopSpying.ca petition, spread the word about the bill, or called on MPs to take a stand.

The Online Hub: Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Aug 23rd, 2012

Hi I'm Lindsey and this is your Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.

Just over a month ago, we asked you for your help. The StopTheTrap.net petition was gaining some pretty incredible momentum, and we had just printed and hand-delivered the over ninety-thousand names to key TPP negotiators in San Diego, California.

But industry lobbyists were—and still are—pushing really hard to keep all of their anti-Internet restrictions in the agreement, and we knew we would have to build out the structure of the pro-Internet movement in order to win.

Now, thanks to many of you who chipped in with a donation, we have an online hub ready.

Our two-step plan to grow our numbers and amplify our voices was to (1) launch a social media-infused website that rallies citizens around the world, and (2) to develop online tools to pressure leaders to reveal the secret drafts of the TPP.

Today I am pleased to announce for the very first time that openmedianow.net is ready. You built it, it's yours, go check it out.

International Internet Restrictions: Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Aug 16th, 2012

Hi I'm Lindsey and this is your Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca.

A newly leaked part of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement—which is the secretive agreement that citizens are fighting at StopTheTrap.net—signalled that U.S. lobbyists are far from backing down in their push for restrictive Internet-related measures.

So some background: a few weeks ago the U.S. Trade Rep proposed a new copyright provision for the TPP after tens of thousands of citizens and a diverse coalition of groups voiced our concerns. Noting our distaste for things like content blocking and the threat of fines, they put together a new provision that they claimed was far less extreme.

When that provision was announced, we were—don't get me wrong—very pleased that the USTR was taking action based on citizen outcry. We love when we know that the pro-Internet community is being heard. But the devil, of course, is in the details--we didn't know much about the proposal's wording, and when it comes to international law, wording counts for a lot.

Big Telecom's Power Grab: Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca

Lindsey Pinto
Aug 7th, 2012

Hi I'm Lindsey and this is your Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca.

Today I want to talk a little more about big telecom company Bell's proposed takeover of Astral Media. If you caught last week's update, you know that Reilly talked about this in the context of Bell trying to get out of its public interest obligations. But now I want to talk a little more about the long-term implications of this merger: this is Canada's most powerful communications conglomerate potentially gaining control over another key content provider.

Canada already has some of the highest levels of media concentration in the industrialized world—more than twice that of the U.S.-- which means that a lot of what we watch or listen to (roughly seventy-eight percent of the television market, for example) is owned by fewer Big Telecom companies than I have fingers on one hand.

Obviously this is a problem if you care about diversity of voices. And slightly less obviously, if you care about the open Internet.

Sign the StopTheTrap petition, hot off the presses from San Diego

Lindsey Pinto
Jul 12th, 2012

On Thursday of last week, we at OpenMedia made a call to a print shop in San Diego, which responded to our order with an "..oh!".

Well over one thousand pages (double sided, and in a reasonably small font) of the StopTheTrap.net petition were fed out of a printer just five minutes away from the hotel where TPP negotiations were taking place.

For those who don't know, I'm referring here to talks around the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which we at OpenMedia, citizens around the world, and a variety of other groups have come together to stand against. You can learn more about that at StopTheTrap.net.

But back to the story: the petition—which as you can imagine was fairly heavy—was picked up by legal and policy experts and supporters from the StopTheTrap.net coalition, including Public Knowledge, Public Citizen, SumOfUs, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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