After a two-week hiatus, my weekly Law Bytes column is back (Toronto Star version, homepage version) with some reflections on Time Magazine's selection of "You" as the person of the year. Starting from the premise that the choice may ultimately be viewed as the tipping point when the remarkable outbreak of Internet participation that encompasses millions of bloggers, music remixers, amateur video creators, citizen journalists, wikipedians, and Flickr photographers broke into the mainstream, I focus on how governments and policy makers might assess how they fit into the world of a participatory Internet and user-generated content. I argue that it can do so by focusing on the three "C’s" – connectivity, content, and copyright.
Post Tagged with: "network neutrality"
Appeared in the Toronto Star on January 8, 2007 as Time's Choice Could Prove Inspired Appeared in the BBC on January 17, 2007 as How to Help Users Help Themselves Time Magazine's selection late last month of "You" (a reference to the people behind user-generated content on the Internet) as […]
In a telling coincidence (I think), Canadian Press has two net neutrality stories out today. The first is a general piece on network neutrality concerns from a Canadian perspective. Bell Canada is quoted as saying that "our position on network diversity/neutrality is that it should be determined by market forces, […]
The CBC recently released its submission to the CRTC as part of the examination of the future of broadcast in Canada. The submission interestingly raises network neutrality concerns, though it does not use that specific term. Rather, as part of a discussion on Internet video at page 19, the CBC says:
The business case analysis for Internet video is complicated by the fact that suppliers of broadband connections may also have incentives to control the bandwidth available for Internet video. Canadian cable companies engage in "bandwidth shaping" which allocates different levels of transmission capacity to different services according to the operational preferences of the cable company. This type of bandwidth shaping can ensure efficient use of transmission capacity. It can also ensure that Internet video by third parties does not become a threat to the business of the cable company, whether it be the delivery of traditional television programming to cable subscribers, VOD or the distribution of cable company-owned Internet video services. In light of this complex mix of issues, it remains unclear whether Internet video will become a primary means of distributing video content on a commercial basis.
This is network neutrality in action.
My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on last week’s controversy involving Bell Sympatico and a change to its user agreement. The Bell clause, which took effect on June 15th, advised subscribers that the company retains the right to "monitor or investigate content or your use of your service provider’s networks and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy any laws, regulations or other governmental request."
A widely circulated Canadian Press story (which featured several of my comments), noted that the Conservative government is expected to reintroduce lawful access legislation this fall and speculated that the change might have been in anticipation of that statutory reform. Many online pundits also chimed in, pointing to the battle over network neutrality in the United States, expressing fears that the Bell change might be designed to pave the way for a two-tier Internet in Canada under which ISPs levy fees on websites to deliver their content.
For its part, Bell swiftly issued a statement emphatically denying that the amendments were linked to lawful access, maintaining that the company had a "a long and established history of protecting the privacy of its customers."
The gist of the column is that regardless of the motivations for the change – whether harmless drafting amendments, lawful access, or network neutrality – the public and media reaction demonstrates how increased Internet surveillance is a political and business minefield that invariably stirs up vociferous opposition.