Shaw Go Wifi by Mack Male (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Shaw Go Wifi by Mack Male (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Not Just Bell: Shaw Calls on CRTC To Support Website Blocking

As Bell develops plans to apply to the CRTC to create a website blocking agency, it is also working to create a coalition of supportive companies. The initial Canadaland report noted that the coalition could include Rogers, Cineplex, and Cinema Guzzo. Rogers has since indicated that it is still considering whether to join the coalition. As I note in my post today on the submissions to the CRTC’s consultation on broadcasting, Shaw is now also making the case for website blocking, devoting several pages to supporting it. Unlike Bell, however, it does not reference a specific agency mandated to support blocking, focusing instead on court-ordered blocking.

The Shaw submission seeks to equate access to grey market satellite services with unauthorized streaming services. It acknowledges that Canadian copyright law already addresses Internet piracy and that court orders can be obtained to shut down services that violate the law. It argues, however, that even with a court order, the CRTC must still approve website blocking. Unlike Bell, which envisions a website blocking system without court review, Shaw is focused on granting approvals for blocking with court oversight:

Shaw submits that the CRTC should consider using its authority under section 36 to approve court orders for ISPs to block access to online services infringing Canadian copyright law. While the Telecommunications Act’s objectives articulated in section 7 do not refer directly to the promotion or protection of a Canadian rights market, there is a clear case that blocking access to illegal streaming services responds to the “economic and social requirements of user of telecommunication services”, in furtherance of paragraph 7(e).

It will be interesting to see if Shaw joins Bell’s coalition, since its support of website blocking appears contingent on a court order.

As the carriers line up in support of some form of website blocking, the issue is already sparking a political backlash. Yesterday in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux raised the issue during Question Period:

Mr. Matt Jeneroux (Edmonton Riverbend, CPC): Mr. Speaker, Bell and several other media conglomerates have announced a proposal to create a mandatory blocking system for websites that they have arbitrarily determined are inappropriate. However, the blocking process would take place with little to no oversight by our courts. This plan has Internet and net-neutrality experts concerned. Will the government let these multi-billion dollar companies control Canadians’ Internet access?

Mr. David Lametti (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as our minister has made very clear, we support the principle of net neutrality, where Canadians have access to the content of their choice in accordance with Canadian laws. I can assure my hon. colleague and friend that net neutrality is the critical issue of our times, much like freedom of the press and freedom of expression that came before it. That is why our government will continue to support a strong net-neutrality framework through the CRTC.

While it is encouraging that the government is defending net neutrality, the prospect of website blocking extends beyond just the issues of net neutrality into freedom of expression and other fundamental rights. With the carriers apparently lining up to support blocking, this is shaping up to be one of the defining digital rights issues of the coming year.


  1. And I was hoping Shaw would be on the right side in this one. At least they support court oversight.

  2. This is just getting ridiculous. Consumers could simply bypass this by using VPN’s. Then one has to wonder if it’s only a matter of time until these corporations call for restricting access to them as well.

    I think it’s time to consider separating the function of internet access from these media companies as we have seen the interests of the media divisions are only being considered.

    • True re: VPNs. However, I’m willing to bet VPN’s are next on the list of things they go after. Based on some of the idiocy I’ve been hearing from other western nations. The UK comes to mind.

      • You’re right Zoey. Any kind of encryption is something they will eventually go after in this environment where it seems to be governments and corporations against the people. It’s time for our government to pick a side, or us to pick a government which is on our side.

  3. I think the slogan for Bell, Rogers, the CBC, ACTRA, and all the other cultural leeches should be “Protect us, and Pay us, and Pray to us as we are the Gods of Canadian culture and you should be grateful for what we provide, you whiny, little bastards”.

  4. Richmond2000 says:

    IMHO the issue is we have allowed the “access” companies to merge with the “creation”
    I believe the ISP’s and the “rights” holders should be at disconnected and not allowed to merge vertically but is now a bit late for this

  5. If the carriers have time on their hands and looking for a project, maybe they can have another look at their bogus low cost tv packages they were told to provide.

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  7. My 2 cents: the separation of ISP service from broadcast service seems the obvious way to reduce the stress of maintaining net neutrality. I haven’t heard a better idea yet.

  8. The link to Shaw documents is a local file link:

  9. WOW….North America has always condemned dictatorship and fascism in other countries and yet here we are…with mega companies again trying to lord over all. Their attempt to control the internet will turn our counties into something akin to communist China who sensors most everything other than the propaganda they want to push. In the past, The big 3 have repeatedly blocked small companies from obtaining bandwidth in order to hold onto their monopoly, they’ve repeatedly taken away tv stations and moved them into packages forcing you to pay more, they force you to take an extra 100+ channels you don’t want in order to get the 7 you do want and now this. The internet was designed for freedom of information. What’s next? Allowing oil and gas companies to block any website that relates to solar or wind power unless they themselves own the patent rights?

    • “trying to lord over all”?

      done deal for some time now.

      “The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors”: Plutarch – Historian of the Roman Republic

      “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”

      Gilens, M., & Page, B. I. (2014). Testing theories of American politics: Elites, interest groups, and average citizens. Perspectives on Politics, 12(3), 564-581. DOI: 10.1017/S1537592714001595

      • Hi Don, I did say “again” implying that this is just another attempt in a very long line of them.
        That was a fabulous quote from Plutarch though 🙂

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