The emphasis to date has been on copyright, but it is about more than just copyright. From the SOPA protests in the United States that successfully stopped dangerous legislation to the anti-ACTA protests in Europe that led tens of thousands to take to the streets to the Canadian fight against Bill C-11′s digital lock rules and potential incorporation of SOPA-style amendments, Internet users are reacting to efforts to impose restrictions on privacy, free speech, and consumer rights by fighting back.
Yesterday’s Twitter-based #tellviceverything was the perfect illustration for how the Internet can fuel awareness and action at remarkable speed. Through thousands of tweets, Canadians used humour to send a strong message that the government has overstepped with Bill C-30 (my favourite remains @kevinharding’s Hey @ToewsVic, I lost an email from my work account yesterday. Can I get your copy?). Alongside the Twitter activity are dedicated websites, hundreds of blog postings from commentators on the left and right of the political spectrum, thousands of calls and letters to MPs, and nearly 100,000 signatures on the Stop Spying petition at Open Media.
The numbers are also big on the copyright front in Canada. Nearly 50,000 have signed the No Internet Lockdown petition focused on copyright reform and more than that number have sent emails to MPs opposing the current digital lock rules in Bill C-11. Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore may defend the bill as rejecting American style approaches, but in light of the DMCA-like provisions on digital locks, those claims are no more credible that Toews’ assertions about lawful access.
Politicians and political parties have been anxious to tap the Internet as a funding source and as a platform to disseminate their message. Many have been slow to recognize that it is a two-way conversation, however. In recent weeks, Internet users – who are now the overwhelming majority of Canadians – have found their voice. It is informed, funny, and loud. As I wrote last week in the context of copyright, can you hear us now?