Guest blog by Volunteer and Open Media Community Member Liam McCosh
As a volunteer who helped analyze and interpret the results of this year’s survey, I am thrilled to see that our diverse community is just as passionate about a free and open Internet as I am. Growing up with the Internet, I have seen how crucial it is to our day-to-day life. I believe we have to stop censorship and unnecessary regulation of the Internet. When I’m old, I don’t want to be telling younger generations about the glory days of the Internet before restriction – I want it to be as free as it ever was!
By volunteering at OpenMedia, I got a chance to be part of the team that is fighting to keep the Internet the way we want it.
This year’s survey had a remarkable international turnout! More than half of respondents were from outside Canada, in comparison to last year where international respondents only made up less than 10 percent. We’re thrilled to know that community members around the world are just as concerned about the Internet in their home countries as we are in Canada.
We asked our supporters to tell us their favourite thing about the open Internet, and the responses covered a wide variety of themes. Like last year’s responses, the opportunities for communication, collaboration, and engagement were popular:
- Michael, from Canada eloquently says “the Internet is a last bastion of free thought and journalistic integrity, and through its networking of minds it is arguably the most powerful transformative technology since the development of language.”
- As Venkatesh from India states, the Internet allows access to “researchers who otherwise can’t afford reference sources” and allows users to engage directly “with scholars and experts without any inhibitions.”
- Chris, from the USA believes that the Internet is an important tool for democracy, by “providing speedy dissemination of accurate information and by making possible the public’s direct involvement in decisions of significance.” The Internet allows a “much more direct and responsive form of democracy.” Well put!
Many community members celebrated the Internet’s ability to bring individuals and communities together like never before in history. Rich or poor, urban or rural, Canadian or international, we are all accessing the same Internet.
In fact, 96 percent of you share our belief in the importance of Net Neutrality, and oppose the use of Internet “slow lanes” to ensure we all continue to enjoy our right to speedy, unrestricted content of our choosing . Because hundreds of thousands of you joined millions more around the world to speak out against Big Telecom’s Internet slow lane plan, we were able to receive an audience with senior White House officials, and succeeded in pressuring US President Barack Obama to speak out in favour of authentic net neutrality.
94 percent of you are very concerned about secretive agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that threaten the way we share and collaborate online. We’ve just released our Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression, publishing the positive alternatives to strict rules proposed by the TPP developed with the input of over 300, 000 Internet users in 155 countries worldwide.
90 percent of you said you were very concerned about your ISP handing over personal subscriber information to government authorities without a warrant or effective oversight. In Canada, we’ve just begun work on creating a crowdsourced pro-privacy plan to rein in government surveillance and reckless data breaches. We need to hear from as many people as possible - you can add your voice at https://OpenMedia.org/PrivacyPlan
Your responses continue to inspire us! The Internet promotes cultural exchange and information freedom, providing us with a better understanding of the members of our global village while breaking down prejudices. Because of its crucial importance as a source of information and connection, accessibility was an important concern of yours. Many supporters value the Internet as their main link to the outside world:
- Mitch from Australia stated that “because of mobility issues, I simply could not function, let alone, thrive without the open Internet, allowing me to keep learning while staying in touch with family and friends” while Kendell L from Australia stated that while they “are in their early 90s” the Internet allows them “to continue [their] political activism.”
- Andrea from Italy believes that “the Internet is an infrastructure of major importance” and thus “has to be built with the common interest in mind.”
- Alexander from Australia believes that poverty could be a barrier to participating in democracy, therefore, “access to fast Internet infrastructure should be the right of every person rather than just for those who can afford it.”
We heard you loud and clear! Survey takers overwhelmingly told us that what you value most about OpenMedia is our online campaigns and our ability make your voices be heard by decision-makers. Our best campaigns and biggest wins are always strongly amplified by community participation and idea generation.
On behalf of OpenMedia, I want to thank you for your valuable feedback and invite you to add comments below!