Archive for July 8th, 2011

NDP, Liberals Call for Net Neutrality Reforms

The opposition NDP and Liberals have swiftly called for reforms to Canada’s net neutrality framework in light of today’s revelations of the CRTC’s failure to effectively enforce its own guidelines. The NDP’s Charlie Angus tweets “CRTC can’t be trusted to protect public on net neutrality. NDP will legislate clear rules […]

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July 8, 2011 1 comment Must Reads

Canada’s Net Neutrality Enforcement Failure

Two years ago, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission conducted a much-publicized hearing on net neutrality, which examined whether new rules were needed to govern how Internet providers managed their networks. While many Internet users remain unaware of the issue, behind the scenes Internet providers employ a variety of mechanisms to control the flow of traffic on their networks, with some restricting or throttling the speeds for some applications.

The Commission unveiled its Internet traffic management practices in October 2009, establishing enforceable guidelines touted as the world’s first net neutrality regulations. Where a consumer complains, Internet providers are required to describe their practices, demonstrate their necessity, and establish that they discriminate as little as possible. Targeting specific applications or protocols may warrant investigation and slowing down time-sensitive traffic likely violates current Canadian law.

While there was a lot to like about the CRTC approach, the immediate concern was absence of an enforcement mechanism. Much of the responsibility for gathering evidence and launching complaints was left to individual Canadians who typically lack the expertise to do so. Nearly two years later, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) posts an investigation into the system that reveals those concerns were well-founded.

Although the CRTC has not publicly disclosed details on net neutrality complaints and the resulting investigations, I recently filed an Access to Information request to learn more about what has been taking place behind the scenes. A review of hundreds of pages of documents discloses that virtually all major Canadian ISPs have been the target of complaints, but there have been few, if any, consequences arising from the complaints process. In fact, the CRTC has frequently dismissed complaints as being outside of the scope of the policy, lacking in evidence, or sided with Internet provider practices.

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July 8, 2011 29 comments Columns

Canada’s Net Neutrality Enforcement Failure

Appeared in the Toronto Star on July 8, 2011 as Lots of Complaints, Few Consequences Two years ago, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission conducted a much-publicized hearing on net neutrality, which examined whether new rules were needed to govern how Internet providers managed their networks. While many Internet users […]

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July 8, 2011 1 comment Columns Archive