Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Inside Bell’s Push To End Net Neutrality In Canada


Canada’s biggest media companies appear to want to put an end to net neutrality, in the name of blocking piracy.

According to a draft proposal to the CRTC obtained by CANADALAND, Bell is leading a coalition of companies that intends to push the telecom regulator to create a not-for-profit corporation that would maintain a list of websites it had determined were peddling pirated materials, and force all internet service providers in the country to block access to them. The proposal closely follows testimony Bell made this fall before a House of Commons committee.

The new corporation would be called the “Internet Piracy Review Agency” (IPRA).
The coalition includes broadcasters, movie studios, and cinema operators from across Canada. After Bell, some of the biggest names include Rogers, Cineplex, and Quebec theatre chain Cinémas Guzzo, according to emails obtained by CANADALAND. A comp lete list of companies supporting the plan has not yet been finalized. The coalition expects to file its application to the CRTC on December 19, the emails say.

A spokesperson for Rogers, however, says the company has not yet decided whether to sign on to Bell’s plan: “We’re currently reviewing the proposal.”

According to the emails, the coalition doesn’t want to get U.S. studios and broadcasters as official applicants to the CRTC; instead, the American media conglomerates would join the application after the process gets rolling.

One expert to whom CANADALAND showed copies of the draft application thinks it’s a very bad idea. “It’s enormously problematic, I think it’s legally questionable, and I think it’s terrible policy,” says Michael Geist.

Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor and internet policy expert, says the proposal goes well beyond anything he’s seen before. “This is a dramatic shift. This is a prospect of significant internet regulation being done by the CRTC and without any court oversight,” Geist says. “The only court oversight [would come] after a site has been blocked.”...

Related: Killing Net Neutrality Has Brought On a New Call for Public Broadband

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