If You Think Net Neutrality Can’t Be Taken Away In Canada, Think Again….

Yesterday, the Americans via the FCC rolled back net neutrality provisions. What that means is that in the US, there is no legal requirement for ISPs to treat all traffic equally. Thus if you’re on Comcast, the possibility exists for them to throttle or block Netflix so that it benefits Hulu which is part owned by Comcast for example. It’s a pretty regressive move and it’s likely to harm the Internet rather than help it.

Now, we in Canada have pretty good net neutrality rules as I recall living through the nightmares of years gone by where ISPs like Bell and Rogers would throttle or outright blocked certain types of traffic that they didn’t like. That’s good. But it seems that Bell wants to go back to those days. Under the guise of wanting to stop piracy, Bell wants to force Canada to scrap net neutrality rules. Plus Shaw is apparently wanting to join in and I’m pretty sure that if those two are in, Rogers won’t be far behind. And the telcos have brought a bunch of US studios and broadcasters in tow to make this happen. The thing is, Canadian law already deals with the issue of copyright and piracy. Thus many, including yours truly, feel that this is the thin edge of the wedge to dismantle net neutrality rules here.

Net neutrality is important as it encourages innovation as nobody in theory has an advantage. There have to be rules to maintain it in Canada. Plus I would argue that with the rather dumb move that the FCC made yesterday, it leaves Canada and any other country that has net neutrality rules with a golden opportunity to leapfrog the US when it comes to innovation on the Internet. Because with these rules being dismantled in the US, innovation sure isn’t going to happen there. Thus if the CRTC is smart, they’ll tell Bell and company to go fly a kite. However the word on the street is that Bell is so desperate for this that they’re trying to slip it into the NAFTA renegotiations that are ongoing.  That’s pretty sneaky. Given that they’re going that route, it likely wouldn’t hurt if the government at large gets a strong message from Canadians that this is unacceptable. Otherwise, what happened in the US yesterday will happen here. And it will have a significant negative impact on Canada.

 

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