THE BLOG

We've Got a Plan to Restore the Privacy Rights of Canadians

05/17/2015 11:41 EDT | Updated 05/17/2016 05:59 EDT
Jimmy Anderson via Getty Images

For anyone who cares about privacy, the past few months have been one hell of a ride:We've seen startling leaked documents confirming that Canada's spy agency CSE is monitoring our private online activities on a massive scale -- and even spying on private emails Canadians send to their MPs. We've seen Peter MacKay's online spying Bill C-13 become the law of the land, despite huge opposition from Canadians.

And, most famously, we've seen the government push forward Bill C-51, a reckless, dangerous, and ineffective piece of legislation that experts say will criminalize free expression, create a secret police force, and lead to widespread violations of our most basic Charter Rights.

But hold on to your hats -- our community is about to make a significant intervention in this debate. Next Wednesday we're launching a crowdsourced pro-privacy action plan packed with positive ideas from our community about how to stop out-of-control surveillance, roll back Bill C-51, and restore the privacy rights of every Canadian.

Even casual followers of current affairs will know from recent developments that Canada faces a stark privacy deficit. And anyone who's been within hailing distance of OpenMedia these past months will know we've been pushing back hard against the way the government is shredding our privacy rights, working with groups like Leadnow.ca and the BCGEU to organize massive nationwide rallies, co-hosting a petition with over 225,000 people speaking out against Bill C-51, and all in all throwing ourselves with gusto into what's become one of the largest political campaigns in Canadian history.

It's absolutely crucial that we push back with everything we've got against these government plans. But saying no is not enough: Canadians deserve positive solutions, and a comprehensive approach to tackling our privacy deficit.

That's why, late last year, we reached out to you, our community, to ask for your ideas on how we can turn our privacy situation around. Working with experts, we created an innovative crowdsourcing tool to let Canadians tell us their priorities when it comes to privacy -- and we were blown away by the response.

With a little help along the way from iconic Canadian author Margaret Atwood, news of our initiative spread fast. It wasn't long before an incredible 10,000 everyday Canadians had taken the time to provide us with their views, and with their often detailed input. The report we're launching next Wednesday would never have happened without their help, and feedback from over 100,000 other Canadians engaged in our privacy work. We couldn't be more grateful to you all.

Long-time OpenMedia supporters will know this crowdsourcing process isn't a one-off. Our small team are passionate about crowdsourcing, because we know from experience that the best ideas come from the community. For evidence of this, look no further than our crowdsourced action plans to fix our broken wireless market, and safeguard free expression online - each packed with great citizen-driven ideas.

As for what's contained in our pro-privacy action plan... well, we don't want to let the cat out of the bag before next Wednesday. But we can say that Canadians made very clear that they want to see robust action to ensure they have the same right to privacy in this digital age as previous generations enjoyed for more old-fashioned forms of communication.

As for the idea that the government should be able to access your personal information without a warrant, or that spy agencies should be allowed to monitor your downloads, spy on your emails, and store your online activity in giant databases? Well, Canadians sure have something to say about that. And the plan we're launching on Wednesday will have no shortage of ideas for how we can put a stop to such abuses.

Stay tuned for more on the launch next Wednesday -- we'll be kicking it off with a Social Media Privacy Town Hall at 2pm ET / 11am PT, featuring awesome guests including some of Canada's top privacy experts. We'll be throwing open the doors on our always-lively Facebook page, and on reddit, and we hope as many of you as possible can join us to help launch this report.

Time and again the government has ignored the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Canadians, and Bill C-51 is just the latest example of how the government makes decisions behind closed doors while showing contempt for the democratic process.

The contrast just couldn't be clearer between the government's closed-off undemocratic approach, and our open-to-all, crowd-sourcing process. That's why our team here are so excited about next Wednesday. And that's why we've teamed up with our friends at The Tyee as our official media partner for the launch to ensure your views get the attention they deserve.

Yes, the timing couldn't be better to push back against the government's agenda with positive, pro-privacy ideas. But beyond that, we know this report will prove once again that when Canadians work together, there's nothing they can't achieve.

We wrote this thing together, Canada - so don't miss out: Be sure to join us on our Facebook page next Wednesday at 2pm ET as we give this the launch it deserves.

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