Telus was not a charter member of the Bell website blocking coalition, but there was never much doubt that the last of the big incumbents would side with the application. Most of the independent and smaller telecom companies have opposed the proposal (and even the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association cannot bring itself to state that it supports the plan), but Canada is not known for competition among the big incumbents and this issue was no different. Indeed, the Telus submission supports the application, but relies on remarkably weak and somewhat head-scratching analysis to arrive at its conclusion that the proposal meets the necessary legal standards.
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Telus’ Website Blocking Submission: No Copyright Expertise Needed and No Net Neutrality Violation if Everyone is Doing It
My CRTC Submission on the Bell Coalition Site Blocking Plan: Why it is Disproportionate, Harmful, and Inconsistent With Global Standards
The CRTC’s deadline for submissions on the Bell coalition website blocking plan closed last week, with more than 10,000 people and organizations filing directly with the CRTC. The interventions including a warning from the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression that the blocking plan “raises serious inconsistencies” with Canada’s human rights obligations, fears from ISPs that the plan will increase Internet costs for consumers, expert analysis on the technical risks of site blocking, and detailed reviews of the many problems with the plan.
My submission has not yet been posted online, but is available in full here. The submission is divided into five parts:
UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression: Website Blocking Plan “Raises Serious Inconsistencies” With Canada’s Human Rights Obligations
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression has filed an intervention with the CRTC expressing concern with the Bell coalition’s website blocking plan, which he confirms “raises serious inconsistencies with Canada’s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and related human rights standards.” Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts with mandates from the Human Rights Council to report and advise United Nations Member States on human rights issues. While many supporters of the blocking plan have dismissed freedom of expression concerns, David Kaye, the expert the U.N. has tasked with making recommendations to member states warns that it may violate Canada’s human rights obligations in several ways.
After nearly two months of public debate, today marks the deadline for submissions to the CRTC on the Bell coalition website blocking plan. On the eve of the deadline, MPs from both the Conservative and NDP parties have begun placing the issue on the political agenda. NDP MP Brian Masse […]
The Bell coalition website blocking proposal, dubbed FairPlay, clearly started with Bell: it first raised the issue in September at a House of Commons committee hearing, obtained the legal opinion to support the application (it is addressed to Bell), and used a closely allied law firm to draft the application. The coalition follows a familiar narrative, much like the “Fair for Canada” campaign in 2013 that was designed to convince Canadians that keeping foreign competitors such as Verizon out of the country was in their best interest.
The coalition features representation from several sectors (as noted yesterday, the leadership of telecom companies is an outlier when compared with other countries), but one participant in particular stands out. The CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, has said its decision to join the coalition was a question of principle, reflecting its opposition to piracy. Yet the issue is not opposition to piracy, but rather whether the proposed coalition solution that includes blocking without court orders, violation of net neutrality principles, risks of over-blocking, and vulnerability on human rights norms run counter to other principles that ought to be held by a public broadcaster.