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

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.

Read more ›

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.

Read more ›

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.

Read more ›

May 26, 2016 20 comments News
Bell Internet Kiosks Fail by Boris Mann (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6kQ5h9

Canada’s New Telecom Policy Begins to Take Shape With Rejection of Bell Appeal, Support for Net Neutrality

For the first six months of the new Liberal government, telecom watchers were unsure about whether Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, would maintain the pro-consumer and competition approach that typified the previous government. The Bains ministerial mandate letter referenced the importance of competition, choice, and investment in communications, leaving enough wiggle room to shift in a new direction.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the full policy remains a mystery, but developments over the past two weeks suggest that a major change in approach is unlikely. With several big issues still to be decided – a plan for universal broadband access and review of the proposed Bell acquisition of MTS among them – getting a better sense of government policy is essential for business and consumers.

Read more ›

May 17, 2016 7 comments Columns
CBC Vancouver - Wanderin'-The-Corridors by kris krüg (CC-BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/2jXse

Forget a Netflix Tax: How The Digital CanCon Review Can Shake Up the Status Quo

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s digital CanCon consultation is likely to spark calls from the cultural establishment for new levies and taxes to fund the creation of domestic content. The Internet will be the primary target with demands for a Netflix tax along with legislative reforms that would open the door to additional fees on Internet providers.

Yet an unimaginative approach that seeks to regulate the Internet imposes costs that would make Internet access less affordable and create a regulatory environment that runs counter to fundamental principles of freedom of speech and access to information. Joly should reject efforts to recycle stale policies and instead embrace the opportunity to shake up Canadian cultural policy.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues that the starting point should be a shift in funding for Canadian content creation. The current model, which relies heavily on mandatory contributions from the Canadian broadcasting community, is in decline as revenues from the sector slowly shrink (the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recently reported that conventional television revenues declined by 2.4 per cent in 2015).

Read more ›

May 10, 2016 12 comments Columns