Archive for September, 2011

Confronting The Social Media Regulatory Challenge

I presented on Confronting the Social Media Regulatory Challenge at the the International Telecommunications Union’s 11th Global Symposium for Regulators. The presentation and discussion paper are available for free online. 

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September 23, 2011 Comments are Disabled Chapters, Conferences

Rogers Launches Advocacy Campaign on Spectrum Auction

Rogers has launched a new public advocacy campaign on the forthcoming spectrum auction.  Linking the roll-out of its LTE to the auction, Rogers warns that set-asides for new entrants “would be a recipe for leaving Canada behind the rest of the world, stalling Canadian innovation and limiting who can access […]

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September 23, 2011 19 comments News

CRTC Updates Internet Traffic Management Practices Guidelines

Earlier this year, I launched an access-to-information request with the CRTC requesting all records related to net neutrality complaints filed under the Commission’s 2009 Internet traffic management practices decision. The result was a post titled Canada’s Net Neutrality Enforcement Failure, which listed dozens of complaints and a discouraging lack of CRTC investigation into them. The post concluded:

After more than 30 investigations in nearly two years, it is clear improvements are needed. At a minimum, the CRTC should be publishing all public complaints and resolutions so that the issues obtain a public airing. Moreover, the system needs penalties for violations as well as pro-active audits to ensure Internet providers are compliant with their obligations. Without change, the CRTC’s net neutrality rules offer little protection for Canadian Internet users.

Yesterday the CRTC took a first step in this direction by releasing new guidelines for responding to complaints and enforcing the rules. The best aspect of the ruling is a commitment to publish quarterly reports featuring a summary of the number and types of complaints it has received, including the number of active and resolved complaints. Moreover, any findings of non-compliance will be published on the Commission’s website and will include the ISP’s name and the nature of the complaint. The move toward greater transparency is welcome and an important step in pressuring ISPs to comply with the guidelines. The new guidelines also establish a strict timeline for responses by complainants and ISPs, which should help avoid Xplorenet-type situations that dragged on for months before the ISP addressed complaints over its traffic management practices.

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September 23, 2011 6 comments News

Can We Please Focus on the Real Lawful Access?

Lawful access, the government’s planned legislation on Internet surveillance, has generated considerable attention over the past few days as the government decided against including it in its first omnibus crime bill. That decision generated media coverage, claims that the government backed down in the face of a 70,000 signature online petition, and a debate in the House of Commons in which Public Safety Minister Vic Toews stated that warrantless online wiretapping is not planned. While I recognize these developments feel like a cause for celebration, I fear there is a major problem developing as too much of this discussion doesn’t actually involve the real lawful access.

First, the omission of lawful access from Bill C-10 does not mean lawful access is dead or defeated. It is only delayed as Justice officials have indicated that the government is “committed to reintroducing” the lawful access measures. In fact, yesterday Toews confirmed again “the legislation will come.” The exclusion from the omnibus crime bill is definitely a step in the right direction – it should allow for the committee hearings that have never happened despite several attempts to pass lawful access – but lawful access will still be introduced and presumably passed at some point in the future.

Second, the debate has unfortunately veered into concerns over lawful access that don’t reflect reality.

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September 22, 2011 26 comments News

The CRTC’s Vertical Integration Decision: A Step in the Right Direction

This past summer’s usage based billing hearing featured a critical moment when CRTC Vice-Chair Len Katz asked a question of independent ISPs that made it clear the commissioners were finally getting it. Katz started from the following premise:

I guess I come from the position that we, the Commission, have already recognized there is a need to create competition, more competition in order to protect Canadians, and facilities-based competition is not yet here.  So it’s our job to find a vehicle to create that competition and, in the simplest terms, it is to create an environment where broadband would be made available to a third party through a lease arrangement.

The acknowledgement about the state of Canadian competition and the responsibility of the regulator to address the issue was long overdue. While the UBB decision is still forthcoming, Katz’s comments provide some reason for optimism. Yesterday’s CRTC vertical integration decision contained a similar statement that offered a strong indication that the Commission got the concerns associated with vertically integrated media companies that can use their market power in a manner that harms consumer choice :

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September 22, 2011 2 comments News