Open Media Day of Action

Open Media Day of Action


The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan: Canadians Take a Stand Against Site Blocking

The Bell playbook for its website blocking proposal has largely followed a familiar narrative. Much like the “Fair for Canada” campaign in 2013 that was designed to convince Canadians that keeping foreign competitors such as Verizon out of the country was in their best interest, the FairPlay Canada campaign similarly tries to make the case that a coalition of supporters want the CRTC to institute website blocking without court orders. The campaign clearly starts with Bell: they first raised the issue in September at a House of Commons committee hearing, obtained the legal opinion to support the application (it is addressed to Bell), and used a closely allied law firm to draft the application.

Proponents of the website blocking plan have relied heavily on character attacks (“anti-copyright”, demagoguery, etc.) to counter criticism of the plan. Yet move beyond the ad hominem attacks and the merits of the site blocking application quickly fall apart. As I have been recounting for the past two weeks – there are still more posts to come – the case against the website blocking proposal is very strong:

In addition to the substantive weakness of the proposal, proponents have been quick to criticize the thousands of people that have submitted interventions at the CRTC, while saying little about Bell’s astroturfing campaign in which employees were urged to submit comments to the regulator without any indication that they should disclose their corporate affiliation.

Today, Open Media has organized a day of action, with thousands more speaking out against the Bell coalition proposal led by a remarkably diverse group of companies and associations. When proponents argue that opposition to the site blocking is anti-copyright, in doing so they are now criticizing teachers (the Canadian Association of University Teachers), civil liberties groups (CCLA, BCCLA, BCFIPA, CJFE, Rocky Mountain CLA), privacy groups (Privacy and Access Council of Canada), digital rights groups (EFF, CIPPIC, Open Media), Internet providers (Iristell), technology and developer companies (Tucows), Internet groups (ISOC, Creative Commons), and many more. This principled opposition is not pro-piracy. Rather, it recognizes the fundamental Canadian values of freedom of expression and an open Internet alongside the fatal flaws of a proposal that would simply dispense with court orders as a benchmark requirement.

The CRTC consultation remains open until March 29th. Interested Canadians should take the time to learn more about the proposal, the mounting concerns, and provide their views to the Commission, their Member of Parliament, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains.


  1. Between its irrational plan, the AstroTurf groups it formed to support its position and its ad hominem attacks on critics of its absurd – and self-serving – plan that may be in violation of the Charter, , Bell should be banned from filing any applications before the CRTC for five years.

  2. William Campbell says:

    I get a huge kick out of the CBC’s blatant bid for more tax dollars. They’re not an ISP. Not a cell service provider. Not a cable service provider. So what’s their motive? In my opinion, they hope to bring CBC supporters into this on the side of Bell.

  3. Dr. Geist, your blog series on this topic was excellent. Canadians appreciate what you have done!

  4. One word.