The remainder of the guidelines set out the specific requirements for individual complaints. The CRTC says complaints are appropriate if:
- the ISP has not met the disclosure requirements of the ITMP policy;
- the ISP’s ITMP adversely affects his or her ability to access certain applications (for example, if he or she is continuously disconnected from an application, resulting in the application becoming unusable);
- the ISP has changed an ITMP to make it more restrictive or has introduced a new ITMP without providing 30 days’ notice;
- the ISP has otherwise failed to comply with the requirements of the ITMP policy; or
- the ISP’s ITMP violates the Act.
The CRTC says the complainant must provide evidence describing:
- what part of the ITMP framework the complainant believes the ISP has not followed (see the list above for examples of circumstances that would warrant a complaint);
- when the problem occurred and whether it is a recurring problem;
- what application was affected;
- how the application was affected; and
- any steps taken to resolve the complaint directly with the ISP, including the ISP’s response(s).
Unfortunately, these requirements will be beyond the capabilities of most Internet users, who typically lack the technical expertise to mount an effective complaint. If the Commission is serious about enforcement, it should supplement the user complaints-based approach with pro-active audits of ISP practices (the Commission contemplates third-party audits only after a statistical pattern of user complaints about a specific ISP).
The pro-active audits should include regular reviews of ISP disclosure practices (and analysis of whether the traffic management practices as described by the ISPs meet the ITMP requirements) and technical analysis to determine whether the actual practices create unintended consequences that violate the rules. When combined with the new transparency commitments, it would help ensure that Canadian net neutrality rules can be more effectively enforced and remove the fiction that users can easily file complaints against their ISP.