This open letter was sent on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

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When signing, please use your first and last name and indicate a location. If you would like to omit your name publicly please let me know and I will only include it on the emailed letter. This letter is focused on Canada’s Parliament but is open to sign by all Fediverse citizens of the World in order to encourage all Governments to do the same and to show the global interest and reach.

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Signatures received after 9AM Pacific Daylight Time, June 3, 2024 will be included on this web version only.

If you have any comments or notice any errors in the letter please let me know! You can also follow this blog directly from the Fediverse by searching for @chrisblog@chrisalemany.ca.



Open Letter from the Undersigned Citizens of Canada and other Worldwide Advocates for the Open Social Web

To: Hon. Greg Fergus Speaker of the House of Commons and Chair Board of Internal Economy, Eric Janse Clerk of the House of Commons, Shaila Anwar Clerk of the Senate and Parliaments, Ben Carr Chair – Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

cc: Honourable Anita Anand President of the Treasury Board, Honourable Terry Beech Minister of Citizen Services, Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Honourable Steven MacKinnon Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Michael Cooper and Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Vice-Chairs Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Peter Julian Member Board of Internal Economy, Gord Johns MP Courtenay-Alberni, Paula Simons Senator Alberta

The undersigned members and supporters (Online Open Letter ) of the Open Social Web urge you as leaders, administrators and members within the Parliament of Canada to heed the call of Petition e-4769 “to provide an open, trusted, federated, social media presence for use by all members, senators, officers and other employees of Parliament as appropriate for communication to all Canadians”. (Presentation in House by MP Gord Johns).

In these most trying of times Canadians, and all people of the world, are desperately searching for trusted sources of information that are reliable and safe. Indeed, Canadian Government sources are warning that trust in facts and reason are one of the top threats facing Canadians and the world. We note the recently announced Government of Canada Trust and Transparency Strategy.

You will notice in the long list of co- signers of this letter many include their open social network addresses. The addresses are diverse but critically, they are compatible and interconnected. (Note: those signers received after 9AM PDT June 3 2024 are on the Web version). Every linked address can not only see the letter on the open internet, but also through their open social network client apps. This is the power of the Open Social Web: the ability to connect widely, with an array of micro-blogging, picture sharing, blog posting, and other ActivityPub compatible platforms. A Parliamentary service would be able to join in this diverse tapestry by allowing all denizens of Parliament to inhabit “social.parl.gc.ca”, or a similar domain, that Canadians and others would immediately recognize and trust. Initiatives like this one are occurring all over the world, eg. Open Future.eu.

The e-petition was signed by 1014 citizens of Canada who use and support this emerging, corporate and non-corporate, decentralized, web of open social media platforms proliferating around the world. There are currently over 13 million users and 24,000 servers worldwide (not including semi-open platforms like Meta’s Threads) providing a variety of social media connections to citizens, artists, journalists, workers, politicians, and government agencies. Many of these people in and outside Canada are watching to see if you, as Canada’s Parliament, take the next step in making this a reality.

Twitter/X, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snap, and other closed corporate social media platforms have become so fraught and unruly that many MPs have stopped accepting communication from them or stopped using them entirely. Government agencies have lost access to platforms for regular and emergency communications alike. The technical ability to use these platforms to augment other government services has gradually declined. The practical ability for Parliamentary staff to manage and ensure the safety of people under their care has been eroded.

While we do not hold Open Social Web platforms as being immune or a panacea to these challenges, we do point out some inherit benefits and advantages such as:

  1. Security and Safety – The top concern of every employer is the safety of its employees and that is no less true in Parliament. By having Parliamentary IT services provide social accounts, it would be able to immediately respond to any situation involving the security of account holders, remove or limit threatening interactions, and ensure the safety and continuity of account holders.
  2. Control of the software – As much of the software is based on commonly used open source technologies, Parliamentary IT services would have ultimate control. They would be able to customize to their own unique specifications, while still maintaining the ability to connect to all Canadians and the Open Social Web as a whole.
  3. Always Available and Accessible – Open Social Web platforms, as part of the greater Internet, are by default public places. Unlike Twitter/X, Facebook, Instagram, Bluesky, or Threads, the Open Social Web platforms can ensure that there is always a freely available, public facing social network presence with no registration required.
  4. Autonomy, Privacy, and Accountability – A Parliament-run Open Social Web platform like Mastodon would allow for an MP, Senator, or Officer to maintain a permanent presence, much like their email, that is managed internally by Parliament and is consistent, trusted, and predictable for the public. This ensures the autonomy and privacy of the account holder by keeping all information within Parliamentary services while also ensuring those communications are compliant with Privacy and Access to Information laws.
  5. The No-Algorithm Advantage, Less Stress and Strife
    One of the inherent benefits of the Open Social Web is the shift to a chronological and user-controlled timeline. Unlike corporate social media which often forces users into a complicated and profit-driven algorithm to influence and control what is being shown on their timelines, Open Social Web platforms take a user centric approach built by following other accounts, hashtags, and other techniques to build unique timelines of content. While there has yet to be scientific study to confirm this, it is generally felt in the community that this leads to a much less stressful environment and one less prone to spam, trolling, and harrassment. When those issues do occur, the independent-but-connected nature of the Fediverse would allow for Parliament to take action as appropriate for the benefit of all its account holders.

We thank you for your attention to this critical matter. We believe that by providing its own ActivityPub-connected services to its employees, Parliament will improve the state of our democracy and provide the open access to Parliament and Parliamentarians that all Canadians deserve while safeguarding Parliamentarians from undue harm and harrassment in today’s digital landscape.

Sincerely,

Signatures received after 9AM PDT June 3, 2024 – not included in email/letter to Parliamentarians.

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19 Comments

    1. Thank you very much Jake! Please do let others know they can sign on whether Canadian or not! I would love to show more international support for Parliaments around the world.

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