Archive for Canada

Canada To Initiate Smartphone Based Emergency Alerts On April 6

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 13, 2018 by itnerd

If you have an LTE enabled smartphone and you’re in Canada, you’ll be part of a new emergency alert system that will go live on April 6. In the event of an emergency such as tornadoes, flash floods, and child abductions to name a few emergencies, a push notification will pop up on your phone. For what it’s worth, there will be no cost to you when that happens. And you won’t be able to opt out. Though I would think that you shouldn’t be opting out of something like this.

Frankly, this is beyond overdue. Other countries have had systems like this for years. Thus Canada is behind the times on this front. I am glad to see that this is finally happening as it’s going to help to keep Canadians safe.


Bell Coalition Who Wants To Stop Piracy Gets Slapped Silly By Those Who Say They Want To Dismantle Net Neutrality

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 5, 2018 by itnerd

Well, the coalition of telcos and others who want to stop piracy by blocking access to sites that they deem to be pirate websites just got introduced to reality in a big way. According to Michael Geist, thousands of people have hit them via the CRTC with submissions that a very much against this idea:

As of this morning, there are over 4,200 interventions on the CRTC site. To put these numbers in perspective, there were more objections to website blocking in less than a week than interventions to the CRTC’s much-promoted Let’s Talk TV consultation over several months. What makes the public response particularly noteworthy is that the submissions are not the result of an organized campaign. OpenMedia is inviting Canadians to comment through its website, but these are not its submissions (which will presumably come later in a group response). In fact, in skimming through the responses (JF Mezei helpfully pulled the first 3,800 together), it is striking how while the sentiment remains the same for the vast majority of submissions (do not approve website blocking), the individual responses are largely unique. Indeed, some submissions identify many technical, legal, and policy concerns with the proposal (for example, hereherehereherehere).

This should make it clear to Bell and those who blindly follow Bell that they’re on the wrong side of this issue. If they were smart, they’d back away from this right now. But they’re not going to do that and instead, they’re going to push ahead and face some epic blowback.

Sucks to be them.


Bell, Rogers, & A Bunch Of Others Push CRTC To Block “Pirate” Websites

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 30, 2018 by itnerd

You might recall that I recently told you about efforts by Bell among others to block so called “pirate” websites. Now that effort appears to be taking shape with news that a group called FairPlay Canada is saying that the CRTC establish an independent agency called the Independent Piracy Review Agency which would identify websites “blatantly engaged” in piracy. ISPs would then be required to block access to those sites.

The coalition, which includes the likes of Bell, Rogers, CBC, Cineplex, Corus Entertainment among others has some slick marketing to make you think that this is a great idea. Take this YouTube video for example.

Here’s some random thoughts on this topic:

  1. Look at what has happened to the music industry. When digital downloads and streaming services became more available and more affordable, piracy disappeared. So if the large telco/cable/media companies did something similar with movies on demand and the like, this will become a non issue overnight. But I suspect that they don’t want to do that as they want to line their pockets with cash. Thus this smells more of greed rather than a true desire to protect jobs and stop piracy.
  2. In the age of everyone and their dog using VPN services, I wish these guys good luck in trying to stop people from getting access to the content they want. Because blocking it within Canada simply isn’t going to work.
  3. This has the smell of censorship. And censorship is a slippery slope that if people were smart, they would not want to go anywhere near.

The bottom line is this is a craptastic idea and I hope the CRTC has the sense to tell these guys to go fly a kite. I am all for protecting jobs and making sure that pirated content isn’t available, but this isn’t how you deal with that issue.


Two Canadians Nailed For Doing Bad Things Online…. Sigh….

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 16, 2018 by itnerd

Yesterday was not a great day for Canada as two Canadian citizens were charged for bad behavior online. Let’s start with the guy the RCMP charged for selling stolen identities and passwords at

Jordan Evan Bloom, 27, is facing rare Canadian Criminal Code charges including “trafficking in identity information,” and “mischief to data” for his involvement in the infamous website, the RCMP allege.

Before being shut down by police in January 2017, offered visitors access to three billion records that were harvested from computer security breaches around the world, reportedly including data leaks from Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Weebly, Foursquare, Tumblr,, MySpace and AdultFriendFinder.

Once decrypted and aggregated, the information was available by keyword search and accessible for a fee. “was a middle man between the dark web and the internet,” said RCMP Staff Sgt. Maurizio Rosa, who supervised the investigation. “A person would log into the site and, with a fee, would be able to look through the site for any information about usernames or passwords to be able to get them.”

Police allege that Bloom earned $247,000 as the website’s administrator.

Hmmm…. That’s not good. It gets worse for Canada as we’ll now go to the guy who’s gotten into all sorts of trouble for launching an army of spambots on Twitch:

A B.C. man accused of overwhelming the American social media giant Twitch with an army of spambots now faces an unprecedented charge of “mischief in relation to computer data.”

Brandan Lukus Apple is also subject to an unusual civil order restraining him from creating or selling “any robot, bot, crawler, spider, blacklisting software or other software” aimed at harming the popular streaming service.


The incident which sparked the criminal mischief charge allegedly happened between February and May of 2017 when thousands of Twitch broadcasters were deluged with a crippling stream of racist, homophobic and otherwise harassing comments.

According to a filing sworn in Port Coquitlam provincial court last month, Apple is accused of “wilfully causing multiple repetitive messages to be transmitted.”

The criminal charge is separate from a B.C. Supreme Court civil action which saw Twitch file a notice of claim last April to stop the 20-year-old from running a web service that promised it could “be used to bomb/spam/flood any TwitchTV chat.”

Whatever happened to Canadians being known for hockey, moose, and maple syrup?

Both of these cases have garnered international attention. Which means that this isn’t good for Canada’s reputation worldwide. The good news is that these guys have been caught and will face justice. So at least some good will come out of these two cases.


Some Free Advice To Canadian Telcos…. Just Give Us Your Lowest Price & Be Done With It

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2018 by itnerd

Every year, or when I get fed up with whomever is my telco of the moment is, I do one of two things. I either try to negotiate with my current telco for a better deal, or I shop around for the best deal I can find. What I find is that I never get the bottom line best price from a Canadian telco. Instead, I find this sort of thing:

bell 3

This is Bell that I am using as an example, but other telcos do some version of this. In short, they only guarantee a really good price for a period of time. But then the price goes up at the end of that period of time. The problem with this is that all it guarantees is that:

  1. Consumers who see this get turned off and don’t consider the telco in question.
  2. Consumers take the offer and are surprised by the fact that the offer has a price that is for a limited amount of time. Related to this, consumers who deal with contact center reps don’t have this explained properly to them and things go horribly sideways as a result.

In short, Canadian telcos are asking for trouble when they do this. But they are equally asking for trouble when they make Canadians negotiate with them to ensure that they are getting the best price. Because not only does the fact that consumers have to take time out of their day to do negotiate, but telcos are opening themselves up to having consumers comparison shop. Which in turn means that they’ll bolt to the competition who may offer a better deal.

Thus I’d like to propose that Canadian telcos do something differently. How about you just give us hard working Canadians your best price from the start? Make everything as clear as possible so that consumers don’t feel that they’re being tricked in any way. And don’t package it as a limited time offer. On top of that, how about say once a year you reach out to your customers and review what they’re getting from you to see if they are getting the best value for money? My insurance company does that and I feel that they to some degree are looking out for me. Yes I understand they’re also trying to sell me more services. But the fact that they do check in on a regular cadence, and my bill goes down every once in a while, or I get more for my money makes me feel that I am getting better value for money to some degree. That is the reason why I haven’t dumped them for someone else. Now I know this takes effort and resources that Canadian telcos may not be willing to put money into. But if they were willing to do that, I suspect they’d see higher retention rates and less negative press.

So, I ask all Canadian telcos this question: Are you game to give Canadians what they want?


Why Are Canadians Going Nuts Over 10GB Data Plans For $60 A Month?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 19, 2017 by itnerd

Over the last few days, Canadian cell phone users have been overwheming phone lines and filling the retail stores of cell phone carriers in Canada to score a 10GB data plans for $60 a month. The response to this plan has been off the charts. I even got involved in letting people know about this:

But the question is why is the response to this so huge? The reason is twofold.

First, Canadian telcos charge Canadians the highest prices for cell phone service on planet Earth as evidenced by this study [Warning: PDF]. While there have been declines in pricing for plans such as low-use mobile plans,  they are still higher than most places on the planet. This of course is not new as Canadians have known that for a while now. But it makes a plan like this $60 a month for 10GB of data appealing to consumers as it’s way better than what most Canadians pay for their cell service. It also highlights that Canadian telcos need to do a much better job in terms of providing value for money as clearly this is not happening.

Another factor is the fact that the CRTC forced teclos to unlock phones for free starting December 1st. So, if you ignore the fact that Canadian telcos won’t be making tons of cash from unlocking phones, and from roaming charges when customers travel overseas, it opens up the possibility that a customer will simply dump one telco for another because with an unlocked phone, they can move at any time. Thus this sort of plan is a defensive move to try and retain customers.

So, which one of these is responsible for the sort of response that we’ve been seeing over the last few days? I think it’s a bit of both actually. Regardless, my advice is that if you’re a cell phone user in Canada, I suggest you take advantage of this offer today as it will send a clear message that Canadians are not happy about what they pay for cell service and are willing to do something about it. Thus telcos have to step up their game if they want to retain customers.


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

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 15, 2017 by itnerd

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.