Canada has a grotesquely concentrated telcoms sector and a grotesquely concentrated media sector, and thanks to a series of extremely anticompetitive mergers, the two sectors are one in the same.
That's why three companies -- Bell Canada, Rogers, and Cineplex -- can get together and hatch a plan to create an opaque, extrajudicial policy whereby any website deemed to be "piracy" will be blocked for all Canadians, under the auspices of a new body called the "Internet Piracy Review Agency" and will incorporate broadcasters and movie studios, who will decide, in secret, what parts of the web to block.
The plan was submitted to the CRTC, the Canadian telcoms regulator, and leaked to Canadaland, an excellent, independent, crowdfunded investigative news business (I am an annual donor to Canadaland).
A spokesperson for Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, says in a statement there is already a way to protect intellectual property: the copyright system.
While not saying the government would outright reject a piracy-blocking system, spokesperson Karl Sasseville says, “Our government supports an open internet where Canadians have the ability to access the content of their choice in accordance to Canadian laws. Net neutrality is a critical issue of our times, much like freedom of the press and freedom of expression that came before it. That’s why our government has a strong net neutrality framework in place through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
“While other parts of the world are focused on building walls, we’re focused on opening doors.”
Inside Bell’s Push To End Net Neutrality In Canada [Robert Hiltz/Canadaland]
Katherine Forrest, an Obama-appointed federal judge in New York, has overturned a bedrock principle of internet law, ruling that embedding a copyrighted work can constitute a copyright infringement on the part of the entity doing the embedding.
SOPA may be a distant memory for the Internet community, but Canada now finds itself in its own SOPA moment. Telecom giant Bell leads a coalition of companies and associations in seeking support for a wide-ranging website blocking plan that could have similarly harmful effects on the Internet, representing a set-back for privacy, freedom of expression, and net neutrality. While that need not be the choice - Canada’s Copyright Act already features some of the world’s toughest anti-piracy laws - the government and the CRTC, Canada's telecom regulator, are faced with deciding on the merits of a website blocking plan that is best described as a disproportionate, unconstitutional proposal sorely lacking in due process.
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