What an amazing 2012 thus far! In just three months, on the heels of the defeat of PIPA and SOPA, the Access global movement for digital freedom has played a critical role in many successes in the fight to keep the internet free and open.
From Canada to Europe to Pakistan, you have had a hand in some inspiring wins. Congratulations! Here is what we have done together so far this year:
1. Stopping the construction of a national firewall in Pakistan.
It seemed insurmountable when it was announced in national papers -- the Pakistani government was planning on building a massive firewall that would severely restrict open access to the internet. But we helped sound the alarm on their plans and the world began to take notice. As more and more companies who could have helped build this system announced they would not bid, we received word from Pakistani lawmakers that the government decided to drop their plans to create a centralized filtering system that would censor 20 million internet users.
- Partner organizations in Pakistan like Bytes for All and Bolo Bhi met with local officials and hand-delivered Access letters calling for them to not build the firewall.
- Websense, Cisco, Verizon, Sandvine, and McAfee (who received a deluge of messages on Twitter from thousands of our members) pledged not to build the system
- Your efforts to stop the Pakistani firewall received worldwide media attention, with coverage in Forbes, the Financial Times, Ars Technica, and the News International in Pakistan, among others.
- Armed with the signatures of close to 20,000 people, we delivered letters to other surveillance companies around the world calling on them to stand up for the rights of the Pakistani people and denounce this project.
2. Putting the brakes on the intrusive Bill C-30
In a survey of our members, you told us that two of top three threats to an open internet were intrusions to user privacy and online surveillance. Bill C-30 in Canada was the living embodiment of these concerns, as it could give authorities unlimited and warrantless access to user data. Faced with a growing opposition movement, the Canadian government hit the pause button and sent the bill back to committee for amendments.
- Vic Toews, the Canadian Public Safety Minister pushing C-30, faced immense pressure from our members through social media, with many directly messaging him and helping the hashtag #tellviceverything trend on Twitter
- Over 25,000 people from around the world called on the Canadian government to abandon their plans for C-30, and after weeks of heavy scrutiny from the media and civil society, lawmakers sent the bill to committee.
- Many commentators are saying that the bill’s supporters, in the face of the public backlash, will not act on C-30 for some time.
3. Millions online and offline take action against ACTA
Access in October raised the red flag on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a dangerous international trade agreement that threatened the openness of the internet and free speech online by forcing ISPs to track and watch our every move online. But in January, only days before many EU member states were slated to sign the agreement, protests in Poland against ACTA began to spread throughout Europe. Overwhelming public pressure over the next few weeks, including an international day of protest on Feb. 11, caused Parliamentarians to reconsider the treaty. ACTA, now losing steam, is expected to be voted on in early summer and could be dead by July.
- The Access’ global movement for digital freedom to exploded from 100,000 to 400,000 members worldwide in the matter of days -- all from one tweet against ACTA!
- Over 370,000 of us called on the European Parliament to vote NO on ACTA. Facing public criticism, scores of MEPs have backed away from supporting the treaty. Final vote is expected to come by July.
- Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Europe on Feb. 11 to protest ACTA in an international day of action. Access, which became a central hub of information for protest organizers, was featured in MSNBC, the International Business Times, and the Next Web.
- The ACTA rapporteur, Kadir Arif, resigned his position in protest of the process, which he called a “masquerade.” Other countries have backed away from ratification, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia.
- Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access, spoke at the European Parliament and met with the new ACTA rapporteur, Paul Martin.
What an amazing three months! Together, we are part of a growing movement across the world wielding the immense power of the internet to protect the internet.
As the only international movement dedicated solely to keeping the internet uncensored and your online privacy protected, our members are the fuel that keep us going. Thank you for all your hard work this year. We’re excited about the next upcoming months, and even more so to have you there with us.
Thanks for your support,
The Access Team
The Access Team