The organization to be addressed is OpenMedia.ca, which seeks to protect the possibility of an accessible and open internet connection. It is also a grassroots organisation working towards a participatory and informed digital agenda. The purpose of writing this case study is to examine how OpenMedia empowers people to participate in the governance of the Internet through fresh and engaging citizen campaigns. The research would also examine how the institute acts to inspire, involve and educate people to advance and protect the rights, ideals and interests of communication. For the theoretical framework, the study adopts the social theory to offer the intellectual resources to enable and facilitate ampler critical engagement with the current affairs where the internet needs to be shaped through the participatory and transparent process. The assumption being made is that no single organization can save the internet, and that is the reason OpenMedia places the users at the heart of digital policy. They ensure that the government hears the voices of the people.
Introduction and Background
The purpose of the OpenMedia is to keep the internet surveillance-free, affordable, and open. The organization creates community-driven campaigns to empower, educate, and engage people to safeguard the internet. As an institution, OpenMedia is firmly committed to data security. To this regard, some of the steps they have taken include working with top security experts to guarantee channels of communications that are secure and safe. The various stakeholders include the Council of Canadians, academics, and public interest groups (OpenMedia, n.d).
OpenMedia was established in 2008 by Steve Anderson, who is an FCAT Alumni. Since then, the organization has grown into an award-winning civic engagement institution, which works by empowering Canada to defend the internet neutrality. Steve felt compelled to build a network that protects an “open internet” after completing his studies at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). Consequently, he began by developing a website that promoted the sovereignty of news on a global scale. However, the site was gradually changed into a non-profit institute that gained significant public interest. The transformation was as a consequence of the information that the internet service providers (ISP’s) were involved in debates that threatened the neutrality of the internet. Steve used his website as a response by informing the public concerning the dangers of permitting ISPs to monopolize the internet (Pillay, 2017).
OpenMedia is a crowdfunded and crowdsourced institute. The reason is that the organization does not work on projects that are funded by a set of companies or solely by any one business. Consequently, the grass root support is a must for OpenMedia. The organization is also proud of the uniquely decentralized and diverse mix of aligned associations that make voluntary contributions to OpenMedia. In the second place, there is also the grassroots and diversified funding. OpenMedia believes that the revenue sources need to reflect who they serve. For this reason, they ensure that small grassroots donors support a majority of the company’s operations. In 2014, 13% of the organization’s contribution came from philanthropic grants and an input of 29% from businesses, and 58% from individual grassroots donors (Anderson, 2016b).
OpenMedia provides advocacy for various issues and aspects of the media. The organization is of the view that the government and the well, old-dated business want to control the internet. However, OpenMedia believes that the net was created for connecting and sharing. Therefore, it fights the surveillance and censorship of the media. OpenMedia ensures that the Big Telecom providers do not censor content or an entire platform, raise prices or even slow down web services. The organization also provides advocacy on the intention of the government to use the internet to spy on the private lives of the citizens (OpenMedia, n.d).
The notable achievements by OpenMedia include the three pillars of internet rights that guide their work. The first one is privacy. The group has been successful in ensuring that the open internet is free from the reckless treatment of sensitive data and mass government surveillance. The second one is free expression whereby the organization is successfully fighting content blocking or government takedowns, which are the enemies of the internet. Another achievement is ensuring universal access to the affordable, open, and fast internet (OpenMedia, n.d).
As a result of such achievements, one of the impacts is that the internet has become a vital fraction of the social, political, and economic lives of the Canadian society. The industries are also witnessing the early days of discovering new forms of democracy and engagement inspired by the possibilities of the open media.
Support from the general public in the form of donation.
Creative ability to engage with people in a more authentic, more profound, and new ways.
Ability to help people spread the word and take action.
Ability to keep the internet democratic, open, and free.
Financial ecology and resilient technology.
Unable to control the online crime.
Having online tools that are built on open source code, which cannot support businesses that cannot work with raw data.
Being a non-profit, OpenMedia is exempt from tax on its surplus.
Develop the organization’s international presence and voice.
Diversify and strengthen the sources of funding to support the strategic goals and ensure financial stability.
Regulations and controls by the government such as the C-30 Bill.
The company is threatened by dominant hierarchies such as the legacy industry lobbyist.
Source: OpenMedia (n.d).
Based on the SWOT analysis, there are significant issues that need to be discussed in details. The first one is the ability of OpenMedia to develop an international presence and voice. It is evident that the digital rights issues are global and the internet knows no boundaries. To this regard, OpenMedia has the crowdsourcing policy solutions, extensive engagement, and the expertise in mass mobilization to share and be of service at an international level. The organization has a global community of supporters who are interested in serving. They can aim to authentically and respectfully connect, listen, and learn from others as they further develop their capacity to step onto the global stage. The internet is a connecting force for the global society because it is a system that allows people from all ages, religions, cultures, and classes to interact and learn from each other (Anderson, 2016a).
Another major issue that needs to be discussed in details based on the SWOT analysis is the regulations and controls by the government. It is an essential issue for discussion because the outgoing Tory government initiated legislations that threatened the online privacy and subjected the citizens to warrantless mass surveillance, with the Bill C-51 being the most problematic one. On this note, some of the most significant threats to the open internet include reckless information sharing and mass surveillance (Tabish, 2015b). Consequently, OpenMedia is working to ensure that there is one internet for all, which is incredibly significant because it is a tool for holding the politicians to revise and account the nation’s democracy. The organization has represented the privacy interest of the citizens and made an impact at the National Security Consultation of the government (Johnny, 2017).
If such problems are not tackled, the future of one’s institution will face various challenges in future. For instance, there will be fewer players in the country’s internet market to assist in driving down costs and increase choices for cutting-edge internet services for the business. Additionally, there may also be wholesale access restrictions, which would likely have a particularly negative impact on business connectivity. Also, there will be fewer choices in the internet market, which, in turn, will ensure that in the future, the institute will have to pay higher prices for the lower quality of services when it comes to the usage of the internet (Tabish, 2015a).
OpenMedia needs various solutions to overcome the fundamental weaknesses that it is facing. The measures include being post-partisan, whereby they need to actively work to ensure the population is the focus the government’s decision-making. Furthermore, the organization needs to translate, distill, and make available complex issues in modes that empower and educate individuals to be advocates for others and themselves. The institute also needs at the speed of the internet by learning, studying, and watching intently from the collective intelligence of their partners and community. The company should also shamelessly integrate ideas that work. Moreover, the enterprise should further seek ways to be more transparent because it is a means to generate a more democratic and collaborative world. They also need to collaborate with a broad-ranging and fluid network of people and organizations. The move will provide them with the venues, directions, leadership, support, and connections that will empower OpenMedia to overcome the key challenges. When planned well, the campaigns of OpenMedia efficiently act as platforms for broad-based citizen collaboration and engagement (Freedman, Obar, Martens, & McChesney, 2016).
The simple goal of the diverse groups of Canadians fighting for net neutrality is the non-discriminatory access to the internet. The reason is that they believe that digital information should be delivered at the same speed to any user and regardless of its content. The user activity or travel in cyberspace should not be censored or controlled. Furthermore, a tiered system should not be obligatory necessitating for double payments for this service, which means that it should not be once on “pay-per-use” basis and again for standard internet connection determined by the content providers. The solutions presented based on net neutrality are variations on the same theme. For this reason, the government enforcement that is required is only of the historical practice of standard carrier such as the telephone system. Therefore, based on the OpenMedia advocacy, the regulatory development granting legal security of the principle is essential to guarantee corporate compliance with the non-discriminatory practices (Kozolanka, Mazepa, & Skinner, 2012).
Moreover, the advocacy of the OpenMedia is crucial for the reason that it is encouraging for a world-class communications and media infrastructure, which are critical in having access to high-speed internet. The affordable and fast internet access is a cornerstone for healthy communities, participatory democracy, economic development, and access to news and information. In Canada, the knowledge, telecommunication, and media policy should be more transparent. It should also have more representative and the broader public. Each user should enjoy various options and real choice for internet service providers, online content, and news. Consequently, it will foster actual options content and the access to the internet, which will help in strengthening the digital future of the country, increase internet speeds, and lower prices. The citizens need access to media production programs, knowledge, and media literacy more than ever before to ensure choice is formed.
Summary of Recommendations
An open media system is fundamental to the democracy of Canada. As such, each citizen should be accorded the necessary communication rights, such access to information and privacy online and offline and freedom of expression, without discrimination or gatekeepers. There should be internet neutrality rules that guarantee each citizen an open access to content and applications of one’s choice. The open standards should be implemented for other media, governance, maps, software, documents, data, and telecommunication network (Currie, 2017).
Another point is that Canada, as well as the international community, need a digital infrastructure and media system that drives innovation at all levels, including economic, media, and social standards. For this reason, the internet should continue to serve as an engine for the country’s innovation economy, spread new ideas, entrepreneurship, and foster free expression.
An additional recommendation is that the policy framework, media ecology, and communication infrastructure of the country should promote diversity, and support consumers, citizens’ producers, media workers, and cultural creators. The diverse Canadian ownership models, including public media, campus community, the non-profit, and independent press should assist to ensure more diverse voices and contents. The recommendation is crucial because a non-discriminatory and open news is a precursor to communication and media diversity (Currie, 2017).
Anderson, S. (2016a, July 15). Under The Hood: We have goals, lots of goals. Retrieved November 18, 2017, from https://openmedia.org/en/under-hood-we-have-goals-lots-goals.
Anderson, S. (2016b, July 22). Under The Hood: How OpenMedia Operates (Also what the heck is OpenMedia?). Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://openmedia.org/en/under-hood-how-openmedia-operates-also-what-heck-openmedia.
Currie, A. (2017, November 17). Your Daily Digital Digest for Friday, November 17th, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2017, from https://openmedia.org/en/your-daily-digital-digest-friday-november-17th-2017.
Freedman, D., Obar, J. A., Martens, C., & McChesney, R. W. (2016). Strategies for media reform international perspectives. New York, NY: Fordham University Press.
Johnny. (2017, May 22). OpenMedia fights to make the internet better for everyone. Retrieved November 18, 2017, from https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/openmedia-campaigns/.
Kozolanka, K., Mazepa, P., & Skinner, D. (Eds.). (2012). Alternative Media in Canada. UBC Press.
OpenMedia. (n.d.). What’s OpenMedia. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://openmedia.org/en/about.
Pillay, A. (2017, May 8). Simon Fraser UniversityEngaging the World. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.sfu.ca/fcat/blog/spring-2017/open-media-empowers-canada-to-defend-open-internet.html.
Tabish, J. (2015a, December 04). OpenMedia is fighting Bell at the CRTC and Parliament on your behalf. Retrieved November 18, 2017, from https://openmedia.org/en/openmedia-fighting-bell-crtc-and-parliament-your-behalf.
Tabish, J. (2015b, December 11). What does a new government mean for Canada’s Internet? Retrieved November 18, 2017, from https://www.dailydot.com/via/canada-election-government-internet-freedom/.