France Says Canada Considering “Three Strikes and You’re Out” ISP Policy

Last month I wrote about the pressure to adopt "graduated response," a policy that is better described as "three strikes and you're out" for ISP subscribers.  While Canada has yet to take a public position on the issue, a new French document cites Canada as an example of a country that is negotiating an ISP three strikes policy.  In particular, the latest Olivennes bill draft submitted by the Conseil d'Etat, states:

La méthode et le dispositif des Accords de l’Élysée soulèvent d’ailleurs un vif intérêt à l’étranger.  De nombreux pays d’Europe (comme la Grande_Bretagne) ou d’autre continents (comme le Canada ou le Japon) ont d’ores et déjà initié un processus de négociation comparable, encadré par les pouvoirs publics, que ceux_ci viendront   relayer en tant que de besoin.

Given that there has been no Canadian public statement consistent with the French claim, either the French are simply wrong (and should be corrected) or Canadian officials may have privately indicated a willingness to move in this direction.  The latter possibility is very troubling given the likelihood that new Canadian copyright legislation is likely to be introduced within the next few weeks.


  1. Essential service
    In an age where every kind of service such as filing tax returns, bank account management, bills management, education, entertainment, telework and hundreds of other essential services had chanced and shifted on line the act of not allowing a person to be connected to internet it should be considered a violation of human rights. I hope Canada is not going on that path. Internet should be treated as an essential service.

  2. anonymouse says:
    The last trend is to scatter an “illegal” file into many compressed password protected files transmitted using encryption. How do you intercept, open and prove that such a file has copyrighted contents inside? The only save world for copyright protection is a world without internet (and at this point I think it is easyer a world without copyright).

  3. DrewWilson says:

    when I saw this, my money was on this being a lie. This is not to say that some MPs won’t consider this in the future however. I, too, hope Canada doesn’t go down this path since there are probably hundreds of reasons why this is a bad idea altogether.

  4. Hard to Justify
    The EU parliament has already thrown this out, and there’s every indication that should a policy like this be put into place in Canada, our courts and ISP’s will NOT accept this at all.

    As Guy Bono stated to the European Parliament on this policy:

    “I am firmly opposed to the position of some Member States, whose repressive measures are dictated by industries that have been unable to change their business model to face necessities imposed by the information society. The cut of Internet access is a disproportionate measure regarding the objectives. It is a sanction with powerful effects, which could have profound repercussions in a society where access to the Internet is an imperative right for social inclusion”

    The above statement in itself will speak towards how the proposed bill was developed should it include a policy like this.

    This may end up ending the career of those in charge of putting a policy like this in place here in Canada. There will be mass protests, and public anger on this, and this policy cannot be justified towards Canadians nor rights that must be sacrificed due to the mistakes of industries. The only justification would be a political move to cause an election, and I fear that due to the track record of the Liberals not taking a stand in the past and run away from such fights, Canadians may very well have to deal with a policy like this in the short term. Dion doesn’t have it in him to meet Harper at 3:00pm after the school bell rings. He would rather run home, then pick a fight which is the sign of a very. very, very weak leader. Let’s hope that if this policy is introduced, that this weakling can learn the lessons of the school yard, and stand up for Canadians, an election must suit the needs of Canadians, not the needs of the Liberal Party.

    There’s absolutely no way a policy like this would ever hold up or be accepted by the public, nor our higher courts. All political leaders must recognize this. There’s no way this policy can be spun to convince Canadians that this action is just.

  5. Absolutely Essential
    I agree totally with Eno who posted before me. Where I live, the only jobs NOT requiring you to apply online are fast food restaurants, and even they are starting to do it. Eventually, the paper application will be phased out, and the person banned from the internet will find it difficult to survive at all.

    I suggest someone propose a lighter version of the bill, banning people from broadband internet for a set period of time. They can still have a monitored dial up connection – so if they are guilty of downloading content illegally they will be practically unable to do so until their sentence is up.

    Alternatively, you could give the accused a choice between no internet for life – and a few days in jail (which is all such an act is worth).

    With floating ip addresses everywhere, I am constantly worried that someday I’ll be sued by a big media company, and use their purchased laws to make my life miserable. You don’t have to download anything illegally, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to make an example out of you anyway.

    This bill and things like it are a violation of our liberty.

  6. RIAA stooges
    I develop software that works a bit like a torrent protocol. It is for secure exchanging of messages but I could easily see myself or a customer setting off some torrent alarm and getting kicked. Now assuming you could get this before a judge I can\’t see explaining the differences between my software and torrent software to someone in their 60\’s who gets their secretary to print their emails; especially in a court with an RIAA lawyer worried about a precedent setting case. I suspect that you would find that some software approved by the RIAA or some such would become judge jury and executioner.
    I have already had to beef up my error handling as comcast mysteriously drops a fair number of my packets.
    I hate the liberals and that twit Dion but the Reform party (they have an alias) will not get my vote. I would vote for a liberal in jail on corruption charges before the reform party would get my vote. The reasons are three: Censorship by religious nuts, not stopping the RCMP and their out of control tazering, and this Hollywood worshiping of extreme copy protection laws. As a software author and company owner I understand the idea of IP protection but if some little guy steals my software I don\’t want to take that guy to court. Now if an organized gang or a large company steals it then I want the full weight of the law to help me out.

  7. Stephan Wehner says:

    So the majority of posters here deem access to the Internet more important than being allowed to hold a driver’s license and drive a car? (It’s possible courts will take away your license. I think by a similar 3-strikes-out mechanism)

    I think surely one can still get by in Canada without Internet access.

  8. I will leave Canada if this is true
    Isn’t it time that we stop listening to corporate ideas on how to combat file sharing. I would love to see a statistic on how many Canadians agree that individuals who “illegally” download should be seriously punished. Why is it always the consumers fault that corporations are not able to sustain their outrageous profits. I think that internet downloading has shown that advertising (making us always want more and more) has created an enormous appetite for media but no willingness to pay for it. I think the market is changing and that these companies need to realize that they wont be able to make the profits they are now.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ignoring the real issue
    This amuses me greatly because it ignores the real problem. File sharing is here to stay. A large percentage of society has fundamentally changed how it views copyright. Every single person under 16 I have spoken with does not see file sharing as anything but a normal day to day activity that you engage in to share your music (like we used to swap CD’s and tapes around).

    So the industry can continue to fight the last war, or they can change their business model and make a go of it. Perhaps they survive, perhaps not. Personally I’m betting that the big guys will be forced into some form of compromise in the next few years, and if they’re smart much like VHS (which the movie industry said would kill them, because you could copy tapes so easily) it will create new revenue streams that easily compensate for any lost business in other areas (much like VHS). Or perhaps they will be stubborn enough to cause their own downfall. In any event I have a few hard drives to load up and send to friends (online file sharing still can’t beat 250 gig file transfers that only take 4 hours).

  10. anonymous says:

    Re: Cars?
    I would gladly give up my driver’s license before Internet access as I work from home for clients outside Canada (and have done so for a decade now). I have alternatives to driving (public transit, cabs, friends) but no alternative to Internet access (have someone fax me web pages and I tell them what to click on and they fax me the next page?).

  11. cui bono?
    who benefits from this? would an isp really be all that keen to be shedding customers? have the isp’s lost any and all common carrier status and currently watch me play an mmo when they are bored at 2 am? what burden of proof would have to be met to accomplish such a strike against a customer? and what recourse could there be to re-establish service on a false flag?

    i’m looking forward to seeing what direction this takes, good find.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I guess the BIG question is what happens when a corporation is caught illegally downloading a file. Do they get the three strikes as well? So ROGERS gets three strikes. Therefore, ROGERS can not connect to the internet. If this does not happen, then the law would be flawed. The next question is who would monitor ROGERS ?

  13. rbaldwin says:

    Cars? What Cars!
    To Stephan Wehner, who asked:
    “So the majority of posters here deem access to the Internet more important than being allowed to hold a driver’s license and drive a car? (It’s possible courts will take away your license. I think by a similar 3-strikes-out mechanism) ”

    You bet access to the Internet is more important than a license or a car. I have several alternatives to cars, such as public transportation and bicycles, and my own two feet. I actually purposefully try and rely on my car as little as possible. With gas projecting to hit 1.50 a litre this summer (and I would imagine 2$ by next year), a lot of people may be forced to forgo the use of their car anyways.

    As a software developer the Internet is literally my life. Without it I would have no choice but to go back to school and change industries to something that DOESN’T require the internet… outside of a fine arts degree, is there an industry (other than McDonald’s) that I could work in and *not* require the internet?

    A 3-strike rule against Internet is far more severe than losing your license and your car. Internet infects almost every aspect of our society, and did so in as little as the past 10 years. How much more dependent will society be in another 10 years?

    I think it’s too short sighted to think that your driver’s license and privilige to drive a car outweighs the impact of being able to use the internet. It’s not just checking your email and surfing the web and facebook, it’s what’s making the majority of today’s business, and all the people involved in those businesses, tick.

  14. John Skillman says:

    3 Strikes
    The ISPs will love this. The government will cancel their customer’s contracts for internet access. I can just see them rushing to co-operate (NOT!). ie., be forced to report an IP address, lose a customer.

  15. teleworker says:

    re: cars
    Absolutely yes. I do not use a car because I work from home. My job is to access servers that are in other countries. Yes, I cannot live without Internet access and soon you want be able to either. It is time you update your knowledge on today technology and businesses. Many big software companies such as IBM, SUN, Microsoft and the like have they employees scattered in any part of the world working from home and communicating via teleconferencing software.

  16. Car Analogy
    If you’re caught giving away bootleg CDs out of the back of your van the authorities can’t suspend your license.

  17. Car Analogy
    “If you’re caught giving away bootleg CDs out of the back of your van the authorities can’t suspend your license.”

    Since one has nothing to do with the other, the answer would be ‘no’. You may lose your van if it’s the proceeds of crime (ie paid for, through sales of bootleg CDs), but a suspended license is highly unlikely.

  18. What constitutes a strike?
    Question for those proposing this legislation: what constitutes a strike in “three strikes?” A complaint from a rights-holder that an individual is downloading protected content illegally? Or is it perhaps a conviction of violating copyright – you know, embracing the noble concept of due process and such?

    I’d really like to know, because I’ve taken all of our home movies, renamed them “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.avi” and released them on bittorrent for friends and family to enjoy. I wouldn’t want some overzealous movie studio to get excited and have my internet cut off under the uninformed misunderstanding that I’m violating their copyright.

    At least I don’t have to worry about my rendition of Oh Suzanna on harmonica and spoons appropriately labeled “Metallica – The Unforgiven.mp3,” as I’ve kept my receipt for a 100-pack of CDs for which the Canadian government collected royalties for dispersion to artists affected by “illegal downloading.”

  19. WCLPeter says:

    re: cui bono?
    \”who benefits from this? would an isp really be all that keen to be shedding customers?\”

    Actually, ISP\’s probably wouldn\’t fight this as much as you\’d think. File sharers disproportionately tend to use more bandwidth than the average internet user. They simply don\’t *want* the client who runs BitTorrent all day long on their network.

    This would really be a win-win for the telcos. They get to massively oversell their lines, not have to engage in pricey upgrades to their bandwidth, while loosing the clients complaining about slowdowns and bandwidth caps that would have forced said upgrades.

    The problem is, there are plenty of legal uses for P2P technology. Yet how fast do you think they\’d use the \”three strikes\” rule to go after the little guy who\’s using P2P to pass work files around, or the OpenSource programmer using it for hobbyist endeavors. Hell, some \”legitimate\” companies use P2P tech to spread software updates around.

    I would expect the telcos to put up token resistance to this, because of the legal uses for the software, but they\’ll be salivating at the bit to find a way to get rid of all the \”bandwidth hogs\” while passing the buck to the government.

  20. Jean Naimard says:

    Re: Cars?
    > So the majority of posters here deem access to the Internet
    > more important than being allowed to hold a driver’s license
    > and drive a car?

    Indeed. I am on the wrong side of my 40’s, and I have yet to hold a driver’s license (and no, I don’t have any handicap that prevents me from driving).

  21. nuts
    I’m pushing 50 and don’t drive…I don’t care.

    But just try to take my internet connection from my “cold dead hands”.

  22. one more for neuroses
    It gets crazy dangerous in the winter there… Given the “confidential” verbiage of emails etc, it is easy to imagine accusations of violating copyright 3 times a day or hour. No one needs this kind of constant corporate stress and uncertainty, the population is just going to go psychotic.

  23. You made into /.
    You made it into Slashdot!
    [ link ]

  24. Anonymous says:

    Internet access are need to do a lot of thing in this society. From finding a work, paying bills, communicate our idea, expressing ourselves (in the charter).

    This law would be unconstitutional faster than the creation of it.

  25. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    Pretty sure I already posted…
    ..but the post doesn’t apear here now…

    Cracking even the most secure wireless access point is so trivial on today’s portable computer hardware that you can drive up to anyone’s house or business and within seconds to an hour or two you can have access to their network whenever you like. Even after your downloading has caused their ISP to strike them out and they aren’t able to connect to the Internet anymore, ever.

    I can see the headlines now: Three Strikes causes millions of Canadians to be Disconnected from the Internet – Due to people hijacking their wireless access point!

    Certainly, I do not advocate using someone else’s wireless access point, but the plain truth of the matter is that with a “three strikes and you’re off the Internet” program, it’s going to happen all-the-time. Wifi hijacking is stupidly easy (such that I only bother using WEP, as it keeps the honest people out and works with my Nintendo DS…) and anyone can do, so they will. That’s just a bit of reality.

  26. Corporate vs public
    You people have to understand that in Canada…not matter what front group (ie political party) is in office…corporate interests come first..second…and third.

    Public interest and fairness never come into consideration..any benefits to us are strictly unintentional side effects.

    End the careers of politicians…Canadians rise up in anger if this goes through…I had tears rolling down my cheeks reading that comment, I laughed so hard.
    Will *Never* happen not in my lifetime not in this country.

    (for that reason…better get used to the idea of $10.00 a liter gasoline….)

  27. A Telco Security Dweeb says:

    “3 strikes, you’re out”
    As an (anonymous) IT Security worker in a major Canadian ISP and telco, I can tell you that the following two facts apply inevitably to this, the latest nutty, totally impractical idea floated by the American entertainment industry:

    (1.) If the scheme is to honestly identify and “punish” “illegal file sharers”, then it cannot possibly work.

    Here at the ISP / telco end, there are only two attributes by which we can (theoretically) identify a customer: Their name / address, and whatever IP address that we have assigned to them. These credentials do not specifically identify the actual individual who is using the computer (or computers… what if they have 6 PCs behind a NAT router? or their residential Wi-Fi has been hijacked?) at a given IP address at a given time.

    Therefore, if “positive ID of infringing file sharers” is a pre-requisite of the “3 strikes you’re out” policy (as it should be), the policy cannot be implemented because we can NEVER properly identify the person against whom the sanction should be applied.

    To (partially) remediate this situation we would have to issue some form of strong authentication, for example RSA-like 2-factor One Time Password tokens, to all of our residential Internet access customers, and then require the use of the OTP code as a pre-requisite for being able to access the Internet via our own network. The costs to implement this would be prohibitive and far in excess of any theoretical copyright enforcement benefit that might thereby be gained.

    (2.) However, if the intent of the entertainment industry (as has been demonstrated by its clumsily targeted hordes of lawsuits under the U.S. DMCA) is just to punish someone, anyone, for the “crime” of “illegal file sharing” (ignoring, for the moment, that the case law in Canada regarding exactly when sharing a file on the Internet is still in a state of flux and is by no means as clearly defined as it is in the U.S.), the problem with the “3 strikes you’re out” rule is, it is likely to result in the arbitrary removal of residential Internet access to a wide range of consumers who (at best) have only a marginal involvement in this type of activity.

    The classic example of this is a parent whose children, unbeknown to him or her, start to download “pirated” content. In this case, Internet access for the entire family would be disallowed under the “3 strikes you’re out” rule, even though the actual owner of the account / payee of the bills, might not have personally have been involved in, or have authorized, the conduct.

    Such an extreme level of sanction, undertaken at the sole discretion of the ISP based on “evidence” good, bad or imaginary, to the best of my knowledge, exists in no other realm of consumer law (try to imagine the water company permanently turning off the tap to your house because you watered your lawn in excess of municipal regulations, 3 times this year) and would very likely expose the ISP involved to a civil suit, on the grounds of consequential damages such as being unable to access Internet-based banking, business activities and so on.

    Also — and this is something that has hardly been mentioned in the discussion of the issue — in order for a “3 strikes you’re out” policy to be effective, Canadian telcos / ISPs would have to create and maintain a shared database of “habitual copyright infringing criminals” who any one ISP had terminated under the “3 strikes” rule (presumably this would work something like the databases that the police use to track sex offenders or the so-called “No-Fly List”), so that an offender could not simply switch from one ISP to another when caught. Except, this database would have none of the (weak) privacy, due process and confidentiality protections that the public safety databases contain. Implementing, or participating, in this kind of a venture would almost certainly expose an ISP to lawsuits by customers under PIPEDA and other related privacy, or common tort, laws.

    In summary, Canadian ISPs or telecommunications providers who were to try this “3 strikes you’re out” policy would (a) have a very high chance of mis-identifying infringing parties, thereby unintentionally torting their own customers and would (b) therefore run the risk of substantial legal liability, with little or no business benefit for the ISP (all benefits, if any, would accrue to the entertainment industry).

    I cannot imagine why any competent business manager at an ISP or telco would voluntarily implement this kind of policy, which carries with it very substantial risks and zero benefit. Of course, we may be forced to implement it, if the current government keeps listening the the U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. entertainment lobby, as opposed to safeguarding the interests of Canadian citizens and consumers.

    Yours Truly

    A Canadian Telco Security Dweeb

  28. Access to Government dude says:

    The one thing I don’t see being addressed in these ‘three strikes and you’re out’ laws are the impacts to Citizen’s rights to access their Government via the Internet.

    I suspect that someone hasn’t though about whether someone has the right to access e-Government Services from their homes via an ISP.

    All levels of Government from Municipal, Provincial (in the case of Canada) and Federal are all actively creating online presences to reach more Canadians and save boat loads of money by not having to rent office space in every small community. For some people e-Government is a necessity ie elderly in the winter, disable people all year round.

    Access to the Internet is ‘not’ just about sharing the latest Britney Spears song, but more and more a means to communicate with Government.

  29. researcher says:

    It is very easy to mis-identify infringers as the message from the anonymous IT Security worker depict. I live in Canada but I work from home for a non Canadian company accessing servers of another country. If my internet connection would ever been suspended by mistake be aware that my company will sue for millions of dollars in damages (beside the diplomatic incident that that could be provoke). My job regards research on cancer and other life threatening diseases and the download and upload of several gigabytes of data to analyze.

  30. Time to change the paradigm
    Time to update those P2P protocols to include encryption and steganography.
    You might want to adopt hardware based harddrive encryption while you’re at it, just in case.

    If you are a maker of encryption hardware, now is your chance to get rich.

  31. Change is necessary
    “It is very easy to mis-identify infringers as the message from the anonymous IT Security worker depict. I live in Canada but I work from home for a non Canadian company accessing servers of another country.”

    If the infringers cannot be indentified, then no infringement is taking place. And this is why people have to become more technologically saavy. What is happening now is mainly a technological problem not a political or legal problem.

    Create better protocols, start designing portable mp3 storage systems with hardware encryption built into it. Start using Linux live CDs which save all files under an encrypted file system on a portable password protected MP3 player.

    Maybe someone should just develop P2P Linux once and for all, make it a live CD so nothing is stored on the harddrive. Add Tor so internet use is anonymous. Create or Add an encrypted file system so all files can be burned to a DVD, or CD, or saved on a portable mp3 player in encrypted format. Make sure that the mp3 decoder built into the hardware mp3 player can deal with encrypted formats. Design the mp3 player to let the user enter in a password to access their files or better yet, design it into a cellphone and have them call a special phone number to access their key.

  32. Anonymous says:

    This is so stupid that it is almost funny, now tell me how you will keep me away from internet. Good luck, that law will not even be possible to uphold.

  33. Canada needs to follow the Danish example and say NO. It’s so very easy to pirate a wireless account and download off someone’s ISP because they didn’t properly secure their network, or someone knows how to get around it with simple hacks.

    But I wouldn’t be surprised. Canada has really started to fall down the same slippery slope that America is currently tumbling down.

  34. There’s a movement to radically change California government, by getting rid of career politicians and chopping their salaries in half. A group known as Citizens for California Reform wants to make the California legislature a part time time job, just like it was until 1966.

    latest trend