Five challenges we face on digital rights for the Internet in 2016

INDEPENDENT MEDIA

David Christopher
David Christopher

by David Christopher

• What a year 2015 has been! In the space of just 12 months, with the support of our amazing community and partners around the globe, OpenMedia fought to ensure people everywhere have affordable access to an Internet that is surveillance and censorship-free.

Highlights include winning a historic fight at the U.S. FCC for Net Neutrality, pushing back hard against an EU plan to copyright “snippets” and helping rally hundreds of thousands against C-51, Canada’s reckless surveillance bill.

Looking ahead, one thing is clear: challenges to our digital rights are set to intensify. Out-of-touch government bureaucracies and unaccountable conglomerates threaten to further undermine the free and open Internet we love.

Here are five big challenges we will face in 2016:

1. The final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership revealed a serious threat to Internet freedom. It will force participating nations to import draconian US-style copyright rules, while also undermining data privacy, robbing the public domain and inducing Internet providers to censor websites. With TPP members due to sign the deal on February 4, we’ll need to ramp up the public pressure against what amounts to an Internet censorship plan. Speak out at StopTheSecrecy.net

2. In Canada, the unpopular Bill C-51 proved to be one of the most controversial issues in the recent federal election. With over 300,000 speaking up against it, pressure is intensifying on the new Liberal government to repeal the bill. That’s why we’re asking Prime Minister Trudeau to sit down with OpenMedia, privacy experts and civic society representatives to discuss how best to address this. Join this call at KillC51.ca

3. The European Commission’s recently released copyright framework threatens to place “snippets” – the brief explanatory extracts that often accompany a hyperlink – under copyright, a proposal that would severely restrict our ability to access and share information online. The Commission will introduce legislation within the next six months and we’ll need to ensure Internet users’ voices get heard, especially at the European Parliament, which will need to approve any legislation. Learn more at SaveTheLink.org

4. The future of affordability and choice in Canada’s Internet sector is on the line. Telecom giant Bell is trying to overturn hard-won customer choice rules that will ensure Canadians can obtain ultra-fast fibre Internet from indie ISPs. As soon as we heard about Bell’s plan, the OpenMedia community swung into action to tell the new government to reject Bell’s price-gouging scheme. We’ve just submitted a hard-hitting, in-depth policy brief to the federal government, but we’ll need to keep up the pressure to ensure they listen. Add your voice Act.OpenMedia.org/Emergency

5. 2015 will perhaps best be remembered as the year pro-Internet advocates secured strong Net Neutrality rules at the FCC that prohibited attempts by telecom conglomerates to consign some of our favourite websites to an Internet slow lane. Sadly, telecom giants haven’t let up in their attempts to overturn these important customer protections. They’ve gone to court and are even trying to strong-arm Congress into undermining the rules. We’ll need to stay vigilant to ensure the new rules are safeguarded. Learn more at StopTheSlowdown.net

Yup, it’s going to be a busy year! Keep in touch with all the latest at OpenMedia.org

David Christopher is the communications manager for OpenMedia, a community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet.

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