Every year since OpenMedia’s founding we’ve organized a major push to sign up new monthly donors in December. It’s the success of this drive that keeps our campaigns running all through the year, and the people who have signed up have played a critically important role in protecting the possibilities of the open Internet.
Today, December 2nd 2014, is “Giving Tuesday”. You might not be familiar with it, but Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 as an altruistic response to the commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The day encourages people to think selflessly by donating or volunteering for a cause they care about, and always falls on the first Tuesday of December.
This year, Giving Tuesday happens to fall on the official start of OpenMedia’s December Monthly Allies Drive, so I thought I would take the opportunity to write a bit about how awesome our monthly donors are.
Earlier this year, when we received a last minute invitation to attend a high-level meeting at the White House, we knew we couldn’t let the opportunity to speak directly to the most powerful decision-makers in the world pass us by. It was because of the support from our monthly donors that we were able to find the resources needed to make the trip happen. Flights, transport, and hotel costs that hadn’t been planned or budgeted for appeared out of nowhere; without the financial security we receive from our monthly allies, the trip wouldn’t have been possible.
But we got our Campaigns Manager, Josh Tabish, to Washington in time, and not long after that stakeholder meeting, President Obama came out strongly against Big Telecom's Internet Slow Lane plan. Obama’s announcement was a major win for us, but this fight isn’t over. It’s our monthly donors who make long term campaigns like this one possible. In order to protect the Internet, we have to ensure that top decision-makers remember it’s their job to serve everyday people, and not just the giant telecom conglomerates.
It’s easy to forget what’s at stake in the fight for the open Internet. As community member George H. reminds us, “I am a disabled veteran age 75… The Internet is my only secure connection to my friends, family, and indeed to the world.”
But stopping the Internet Slow Lane is not the only major issue that our monthly donors have empowered us to act on. This year also saw major developments in our work to preserve free expression online.
OpenMedia has been campaigning against the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s reckless Internet censorship for over two years now, and during this time we’ve done a lot: we have organized demonstrations and protests, raised public awareness with ground-breaking viral campaigns (and giant light projections), and sent staff members to confront TPP negotiators directly with citizen comments.
Throughout our work to stop the TPP’s censorship, we knew that it wasn’t enough for us to be opposed to the TPP’s extreme vision for copyright, we had to propose a positive alternative that showed decision-makers what a more balanced approach looks like.
After gathering citizen input from hundreds of thousands of people around the world, we recently produced the Our Digital Future report. This crowdsourced report outlines a balanced vision that ensures compensation for creators while prioritizing free expression online. Our open, collaborative process put citizens in the drivers seat, giving our report a legitimacy that the TPP’s closed, undemocratic process cannot hope to match.
Long-term, ongoing campaign work like this is only possible thanks to the strength of our monthly donors; the TPP negotiations are closer than ever to reaching conclusion, and sadly, we know that Internet censorship is still part of the agreement. It’s our monthly donors who will ensure that the lived experience of Internet users everywhere is not completely ignored in this secretive process.
Our community makes it possible for us to go up against some of the largest and most powerful bureaucracies and institutions in the world. Together, we’ve taken on the FCC, the USTR, the CRTC, and Big Telecom. And we’re getting results.
So today, on Giving Tuesday, I want to say a big thank you to all the people all over the world who have made the fight to defend the possibilities of the open Internet possible.
Thank you. Thank you for signing our petitions, thank you for sharing our content with your friends, thank you for emailing your local politicians. Thank you for believing in us, thank you for helping to create a better digital future, Thank you for speaking out in defence of the open Internet. Thank you for donating, thank you for caring, thank you for being a part of our community.
For everything your support and participation has made possible, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Jason Hjalmarson is OpenMedia’s Grassroots Development Coordinator