Tell the CRTC to keep our net open!

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications  Commission (CRTC) has finally decided to deal with the prickly subject of internet regulation in Canada. Until recently, Canada’s Internet was an open, neutral network – a level playing field for free speech and innovation. All that is now threatened by a handful of corporations that want to control a “gatekeeper network” in which they decide what content, services and users get the fastest access.

The federal telecoms regulator has decided now is the time to “gain a better understanding of broadcasting in the new media environment.” Ten years ago, the CRTC in all its wisdom decided to take a hands-off approach to the internet, effectively allowing corporations to self-regulate in cybersapce. This has resulted, no surprise, in anti-competitive practices by telcos and cablecos in their efforts to dominate the online “market.” Discriminatory actions such as blocking access, crippling consumer devices and applications, and slowing down service, or “throttling”, are becoming increasingly common. The result for users, besides lack of choice, has been unequal access to the interent, a historically neutral – and thus open – network.

The CRTC will hold a public hearing Februaray 17, 2009 in Gatineau, PQ. Members of the public (that’s us!) can submit comments to the CRTC until December 5  here. The decision the CRTC takes as a result of this proceeding and public consultation will determine the future of the internet in Canada. Will Bell and other big telecoms be allowed to control (and limit) our actions in cyberspace? Will corporations be permitted to rule the internet, taking over a once public space and charging pay-per-use fees as they please?

We need to take control of our communications media and the internet is an obvious place to start, because it has yet to be parceled off and sold to the highest bidders (never citizens, let me remind you). The CRTC has already twice delayed ruling on the fate of the internet (public communication medium or corporate playground?), suggesting that they are struggling to make a decision. We, as citizens and users, need to make it very clear which side the Canadian public is on. Take one minute to let the CRTC know you want Canada to protect an open, neutral internet.

2 Responses to “Tell the CRTC to keep our net open!”

  1. The Information Policy Blog » geeks & global justice Says:

    [...] Geeks & Global Justice: Researching tech activism in the global justice movement.  Her latest post is about net neutrality in [...]

  2. geeks & global justice | tara robertson Says:

    [...] Geeks & Global Justice: Researching tech activism in the global justice movement.  Her latest post is about net neutrality in Canada. Kate describes herself: I am a social justice activist, doctoral [...]

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