A bad idea for ‘fixing’ Canada’s internet rules

Canada has three major internet service providers. This includes Rogers International, BCE and Telus Corp. Canadians rely on these companies to connect to the internet.

In the past few days, Bell alias BCE has come up with rules to restrict and control internet access. Bell Canada requested the Government to create a list of sites that need to be blocked. The list needs to be created by federal officials. This list will be used to thwart pirates.The proposal was made quite recently. It was presented at a parliamentary committee. The proposal focuses on online attacks too!

Canadian telecommunication giants are experiencing a wide range of problems. From bell’s point of view, there are many interesting problems. The blacklist created by the Government of Canada will be used to block offending websites. Internet service providers can use the list to block websites. This idea comes with many pros and cons. In fact, a considerable number of people approve and disapprove the move. Some claim that the decision is unconstitutional.

The questions are: what would happen when internet service providers block and shut access to all sites that are on the blacklist?

Will consumers be affected? Will internet service providers lose business? Will companies lose profits? What will happen when an address is mentioned in the blacklist? Can internet service providers block legitimate details? Can overzealous service providers reduce the amount of information disclosed to customers?

Parties in the blacklist will find the situation challenging. They must focus on strategies that would prevent them being saddled in the very first place. They may need the support of a good attorney. If the proposal is approved, parties in the blacklist will not be able to act independently. They need advice and support from a renowned process body. In most cases, they must be backed by the courts.

Another issue under discussion is “Net Neutrality”. A lot of Canadians believe that every byte needs to be treated equally. Access to certain sources should not be restricted. The concept of net neutrality prevents thefederal government from blocking sites. To be more precise, official bodies cannot favor or disapprove sites. States that don’t follow net neutrality can be considered as authoritarian.

Net Neutrality is subject to severe debates. There are many discussions favoring and disapproving net neutrality.

Thirdly, the proposal may create space for copyright infringements. This means there are more chances for piracy.

Experts are concerned if Bell is requesting Ottawa to create rules that can facilitate and enable piracy. It is very interesting if Bell’s moves are for commercial purposes.

Canada’s anti-piracy rules are robust and carefully formed. With this proposal, the law will see a major change. Some believe that the rules can expand present laws. Michael Geist, a professor at the University of Ottawa considers the proposal as thecriminalization of copyright. Geist is an expert in handling legal matters. He specializes in online issues. Geist wrote a blog on how the proposal can push the government, start public debates and affect existing rules. Geist said that extrajudicial attempts to stop and prevent websites can introduce freedom and charter of rights issues. This issue can become extremely challenging and uncontrollable.

Marie Aspiazu, a member from OpenMediaconsiders the proposal as overreaching and radical. Aspiazu questions on how websites will be evaluated.

Canada is considered as a safe haven for online pirates. According to Bell Canada, many sites should be blocked. This telecom giant has requested the federal government to fight against piracy websites. And, it expects violators to make stiffening penalties.

A lot of Canadians are migrating from regulated television systems to broadband services. This is because they prefer free content over paid Netflix! Rob Malcolmson, the Vice President of Bell told federal leaders that internet pirates must be stopped. Rob was a part of a government hearing organized in Ottawa. The hearing focused on NAFTA negotiations. Malcolmson has come up with a discreet plan. Website blocking will begin with independent internet service providers. This could be an agency like Canada’s Broadcast Commission. The regulators must create a list of piracy websites. (Piracy websites allow locals to download and watch pirated television shows and movies).

Bell has drafted a written statement on how piracy reforms can change the digital economy and improve online content. The telecom giant believes that the enforcement can ensure better pay and work for Canadian content writers!

Internet service providers have the technology to prevent customers from browsing, downloading and accessing content from blacklist websites.

Malcolmson has requested the federal government to mandate all internet service providers in Canada to block piracy websites. The service providers must have access to the official blacklist. This blacklist should be consistent across the country. According to Bell Canada, more than 2 billion people have visited piracy websites in the year 2016.

Canada allows copyright holders to file severe cases and sue infringing online content. In the United Kingdom, infringing websites can be blocked by courts. Bell doesn’t prefer judicial insight. This can result in rampant online censorship.

Another company that wants to block websites is Quebec.

Quebec created a provincial law. This law enforces internet service providers to block online gambling websites. Sites that are not approved by the federal government will be blocked. This legislation is required to stop companies that don’t follow internet gambling rules.

CRTC is challenging Quebec’s provincial law. The commission quotes that Bell and other telecom companies are governed by federal jurisdiction. By allowing internet service providers to influence and control content, the Telecommunications Act is violated.

The Federal Government and CRTC are requesting more information from Bell. This is a critical decision that can introduce many problems and change the internet scene in Canada.

The moment a blacklist of sites is created, the situation becomes problematic. The government will control what Canadians see and what they cannot. The piracy issue doesn’t stop in Canada. It is present in the United States of America too!

For more news about the telecom industry, visit Acanac’s blog.

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