“Inside Bell’s Push to End Net Neutrality in Canada”, CanadaLand

Happy end-of-net-neutrality-in-Canada Year! A month ago, this December 4, 2017 article (5 minute read), “Inside Bell’s Push to End Net Neutrality in Canada”, written by Robert Hiltz for CanadaLand, gave us insight into Bell’s proposal to force all internet service providers in the country to block access to websites with what they deem as copyright infringing content. The proposal includes no court oversight. The dangers in this lack of judicial review will inevitably lead to wider censorship.

Censorship comes in many forms. There is a parallel in what is happening to internet regulation and the current increased threat of the proposed changes to the regulation of NHPs. Just as we took for granted our access to safe and effective natural health products and practices before Health Canada imposed onerous controls, we have taken for granted access to a free and open internet.

In the past 20 years, the internet has revolutionized how we communicate, do business, shop, listen to music, watch movies, etc. Until now, most internet providers have treated the traffic on the internet equally. This is the basic concept behind net neutrality. It is defined as the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. Net neutrality is a concept born from the same ideologies that created freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States voted to end net neutrality on December 14, 2017. This is a win for the major internet service providers who will now be free make the rules and charge as they see fit. If Bell is successful with their proposal it could very well mean the end of net neutrality here in Canada. Major technology companies such as Google, Netflix, Facebook and Twitter will pay the price which will affect you, the user, in the end. Internet bills may look a lot like cable bills with extra charges being added for video streaming sites such as Netflix or the bundling of social media platforms as a “premium package” requiring higher fees to access them.

Open Media, an organization that advocates for a free and open internet, wrote an article which was published on the Common Dreams website about the impact that FCC’s decision will have on the future of the internet.

In Canada we have our own service protections as enforced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC), but we also have our own Telecom giants to contend with. Bell, Rogers and Shaw, time and again, have taken actions that work against the public’s interest when left unchecked. Michael Geist, Canadian Professor of Law, wrote on the legal issues and Charter of Rights and Freedoms concerns surrounding Bell’s proposal.