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

What the Canadian Government Really Thinks About Net Neutrality

The Canadian Press is out this evening with an important story that reveals the government's true view on net neutrality.  Based on documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, they provide a clear picture of an Industry Minister and policy makers content to leave the issue alone, despite acknowledging that major telcos such as Bell and Telus are "determined to play a greater role in how Internet content is delivered" and that "they [Bell and Telus] believe they should be the gatekeepers of content, with the freedom to impose fees for their role."

The documents were prepared for the Minister in anticipation of questions that might arise after Videotron President Robert Depatie mused publicly about a new tariff or fee for carrying content.  The departmental response as contained in a Question Period Card:

"The Internet is not regulated in Canada. There is no regulation of the relationship between Internet service providers and the providers of Internet content. There is currently considerable discussion in the industry about the implications of telecommunications companies who provide network and Interent service taking a greater role in determining how Internet content will be delivered and at what cost, if any.  The Telecommunications Policy Review Panel reviewed this issue in its March 2006 report.  My department is continuing to examine and assess the recommendations, including the issue of net neutrality, that were made in this report."

While that may be the official line, the documents reveal very different thinking behind the scenes.  

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February 6, 2007 23 comments News

The Tyee on Net Neutrality

The Tyee does a nice job of providing the Canadian context behind the net neutrality debate.

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January 17, 2007 2 comments Must Reads

AT&T Agrees to Net Neutrality Conditions

Harold Feld (and then the MSM) notes that AT&T has agreed to a series of new conditions in order to obtain approval for its proposed merger with BellSouth. Of greatest interest is the fact that the conditions include some very explicit net neutrality conditions: AT&T/BellSouth also commits that it will […]

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December 29, 2006 4 comments News

Net Neutrality is Back but is Bernier Listening?

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version ) discusses the renewed net neutrality concerns in Canada in light of comments from Videotron President Robert Depatie promoting the establishment of a new Internet transmission tariff that would require content creators of all sizes to fork over millions of dollars for the right to transmit content to ISP subscribers.  I note that there is mounting evidence that content and application discrimination is already here.  In Canada, the Depatie remarks join a handful of examples that include Telus' 2005 decision during a labour dispute to block access to a website that supported its union (blocking hundreds of additional websites in the process), Shaw Cable's ten dollar surcharge for "premium" Internet telephony service (which generated a complaint to the CRTC from Vonage, a leading Internet telephony provider), and Rogers' decision to limit bandwidth for legitimate peer-to-peer software applications (without full public disclosure of the practice).

While opponents of network neutrality legislation argue that a competitive marketplace removes the need for government intervention, the reality is that the market for broadband services in Canada is at best an oligopoly.  Most Canadians have limited choice, with consumers in urban areas choosing between indistinguishable cable and telephone Internet packages, while Canadians in rural communities are often left with no broadband options at all.

In light of the current environment, a recent Canadian telecommunications policy review directly addressed the network neutrality issue.

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November 6, 2006 5 comments Columns

Videotron Rekindles Fear of a Two-Tier Internet

Appeared in the Toronton Star on November 6, 2006 as Fear of a Two-Tier Internet Last week, while most cable and telecommunications observers were focused on changes to the rules for income trusts, news of record earnings for Telus, and a Statistics Canada report that illustrated how the cable industry […]

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November 6, 2006 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive