Net Neutrality And Creative Freedom (Tim Wu at re:publica 2010) by 
Anna Lena Schiller (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7VfazT

Net Neutrality And Creative Freedom (Tim Wu at re:publica 2010) by Anna Lena Schiller (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7VfazT

Net Neutrality

170120-D-PB383-047 by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/RfxDS6

The Trouble for Canadian Digital Policy in an ‘America First’ World

Canadian digital policy over the past decade has been marked by a “made-in-Canada” approach that ensures consistency with international law but reflects national values and norms. On a wide range issues – copyright rules, net neutrality, anti-spam legislation, and privacy protection among them – the federal government has carved out policies that are similar to those found elsewhere but with a more obvious emphasis on striking a balance that includes full consideration of the public interest.

My Globe and Mail opinion piece notes that as with many issues, the burning question for the Liberal government is whether the Canadian digital policy approach can survive the Donald Trump administration. Trade pressures are likely to present Canada with an enormous challenge in maintaining its traditional policy balancing act since the United States is already using tough talk to signal demands for change. This suggests that many Canadian policies will be up for negotiation, although there are some potential opportunities that reside outside of the trade talk spotlight.

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January 25, 2017 0 comments Columns
Save the Internet - Demonstration in Vienna by Arbeitskreis Vorratsdaten (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/GT8mgK

The CRTC’s Differential Pricing Hearing: ISPs Should Not Be Picking the Internet’s Winners and Losers

Net neutrality, the longstanding principle that Internet service providers should treat all content and applications in an equal manner faces its toughest test yet this week as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator, conducts a hearing on whether ISPs may engage in “differential pricing”.

My Globe and Mail column notes that differential pricing refers to instances in which ISPs adopt a non-neutral approach to content by charging one price for consumers to download or access some content, but a different price for other content. The issue – sometimes known as “zero rating” for cases in which ISPs do not levy any data charges for certain content – may sound technical, but it has huge implications for how Canadians access and pay for Internet services.

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November 2, 2016 3 comments Columns
Vigil At The White House To Save Net Neutrality 1 by Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/pXJ7P4

Canadian Battle over “Zero Rating” Places Net Neutrality Safeguards at Risk

Net neutrality emerged as a top Internet policy issue over 10 years ago as some Internet service providers openly discussed creating a two-tier system with a fast lane for websites and applications willing to pay additional fees and a slow lane for everyone else. The companies maintained that consumers would benefit from the two-tier approach by gaining faster access to premium content.

Internet users and emerging technology companies banded together to oppose the approach, arguing that all traffic should be treated in an equal manner regardless of content, source, or destination. They noted that the two-tier approach could lead to unfair competition and an inability for start-up companies to challenge established players.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that Internet users won the policy battle and years later net neutrality rules can be found worldwide. Indeed, the importance of an “open Internet” was recently affirmed by Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Development, who told an international conference that the economy depends upon it.

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July 5, 2016 7 comments Columns
iPhone TV by Wesley Fryer (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/98ZUNZ

Federal Court of Appeal Upholds CRTC Ruling That Bell Mobile TV Service Violated Telecom Law

In the fall of 2013, Ben Klass, a graduate student in telecommunications, filed a complaint with the CRTC over how Bell approach to its Mobile TV product. Klass noted that Bell was offering a $5 per month mobile TV service that allowed users to watch dozens of Bell-owned or licensed television channels for ten hours without affecting their data cap. By comparison, users accessing the same online video through a third-party service such as Netflix would be on the hook for a far more expensive data plan since all of the data usage would count against their monthly cap.

In January 2015, the CRTC released its decision in the case, siding with Klass. The Commission expressed concern that the service “may end up inhibiting the introduction and growth of other mobile TV services accessed over the Internet, which reduces innovation and consumer choice.”  While Bell argued that the mobile TV service was subject to broadcast rather than telecom regulation, the CRTC ruled that mobile television services effectively invoked both broadcast and telecom regulation, since a data connection was required to access the service.

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June 21, 2016 Comments are Disabled News
Betfair & PaddyPower by Jim Makos (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/yo2pQB

Government-Mandated Website Blocking Comes to Canada as Quebec’s Bill 74 Takes Effect

With little fanfare, Quebec passed website blocking legislation last week. Bill 74 took effect on May 18th, setting up a likely court showdown between the Quebec and federal governments. As discussed in several articles and posts over the past year (here and here), Quebec’s Internet blocking legislation requires Internet service providers to block access to a list of online gambling sites to be identified by the government-backed Loto-Québec. The government now characterizes the legislation as a matter of consumer protection, but it did not initially hesitate to emphasize that its primary goal was to increase revenues for Espace-Jeux, its officially sanctioned online gambling service.

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May 26, 2016 20 comments News