Telecom by yum9me (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/53jSy4

Telecom by yum9me (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/53jSy4

Telecom

Australia Leads, Canada Dithers in Spam Fight

While Canada dithers in dealing with spam, Australia continues to lead.  Australia has taken an aggressive anti-spam approach and has been rewarded by dropping from the ranks of the country’s most responsible for spam.  Canadian governments have done little to deal with the issue and we consistently find ourselves ranked […]

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March 28, 2006 5 comments News

UK Court Rules on ISP Liability

The UK Court, Queen’s Bench division issued an important decision on the liability of Internet service providers late last week.  Unlike the U.S., which established statutory immunity for intermediaries where they simply provide the forum for publication, Commonwealth countries such as the UK, Canada, and Australia still rely on common law principles leaving some question about the standard of liability for intermediaries for allegedly defamatory content posted on their sites.

Bunt v. Tilley involved an attempt to hold AOL, Tiscali, and British Telecom liable for allegedly defamatory postings.  The claimant relied on the Godfrey v. Demon Internet case to argue that the court could hold the ISPs liable.  That case has generated concern among ISPs in Canada as it does hold out the prospect for liability.  The court was clearly uncomfortable with that decision, however, issuing a decision that was generally sympathetic to the ISPs.

In particular, the court concluded that "an ISP which performs no more than a passive role in facilitating postings on the internet cannot be deemed to be a publisher at common law." That is the good news as it provides some comfort to ISPs who can rely on this case to argue that they are not liable for doing nothing more than hosting content.

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March 14, 2006 2 comments News

Does the Government Have a Role in Internet Connectivity?

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) picks up on Toronto Hydro’s announcement last week of its plans to blanket the City of Toronto with wireless Internet access. I note that the announcement has sparked an important debate about the appropriate role for governments and public institutions in providing Internet connectivity, which comes on the heels of the CRTC’s recent decision to distribute $652 million to major telecommunications providers such as Bell and Telus to help defray the costs of implementing high-speed connectivity in rural Canadian communities.

These developments place the spotlight squarely on a critical question for new Conservative Industry Minister Maxime Bernier – what, if anything, should government do about Internet connectivity?

The starting position for a Conservative government might well be to argue that government has a very limited role to play here, concluding that this is strictly a marketplace issue and that the private sector has plenty of incentives to develop networks for consumer use.

Given the Web’s importance, I argue that government cannot adopt a hands-off approach, though it must recognize that its role differs in the urban and rural markets.

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March 13, 2006 4 comments Columns

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Issues Internet Hate Decision

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has issued a noteworthy Internet hate decision that focuses on the applicability of the Human Rights Act to Internet hate materials (Globe coverage here).  The Tribunal ordered fines against several individuals for their role in maintaining several hate websites and newsletters.  The lengthy decision is […]

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March 11, 2006 2 comments News

ITU Calls For Enforceable ISP Codes of Conduct to Combat Spam

The International Telecommunications Union is holding a World Telecommunications Development Conference this week and has reportedly used the opportunity to release a new study on combatting spam.  The Financial Times reports that the ITU concludes that while all countries need anti-spam legislation, a more effective approach would be to require […]

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March 8, 2006 Comments are Disabled News