Timothy M. Denton

Success Through Understanding Technology

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Industry News

Subcategories from this category: Internet, Canada

Posted by on in Industry News

"Canada missed the boat on regulating the Internet 20 years ago", said Entertainment lawyer Stephen Stohn and, it should be noted, executive producer of Degrassi: The Next Generation and co-owner of Epitome Picture.  He told conference attendees that he told the CRTC back then “we really need to start thinking about regulating the Internet,” but that the Commission asked him to come back when he could show it was making an impact – and now that it is disrupting everything, it’s much too late. So reports CARTT.

Canada thereby missed the largest expansion of state authority over communications that has been conceived since the reign of Charles I. But, hey, let's go back there for Steven Stohn, shall we? Or should I say, "for Canadian culture"?

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There is an excerpt in First Monday from a book by Benjamin Peters called "How not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet".

"the central proposition that this book develops and then complicates is that although the American ARPANET initially took shape thanks to well-managed state subsidies and collaborative research environments, the comparable Soviet network projects stumbled due to widespread unregulated competition among self-interested institutions, bureaucrats, and other key actors. The first global civilian computer networks developed among cooperative capitalists, not among competitive socialists. The capitalists behaved like socialists while the socialists behaved like capitalists."

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Terence Corcoran fights against bad policy night and day at the National Post. At least he tries. But on telecom policy I have been forced to conclude he only has one policy. Giantism is good, and competition be damned if it gets in the way of giantism. If that is not so, then he is radically incoherent.

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While change is always a risk, not changing is ultimately deadly. So we should welcome the the Heritage Minister's announcement of a policy review of broadcasting and digital industries.    (Melanie Joly, above)

As always, the basic question is whether the Toronto cultural troglodytes will succeed in poisoning the Internet with a requirement to licence websites, instead of adapting to an unlicensed creative commons.

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Yep, I loaded the shotgun this morning and wandered out to the fish barrel, where I blasted away at hapless statistics. It was ugly.

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The CRTC is asking all the right questions in its Notice of Consultation on Next Generation 911. The question for me is who can answer them?

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I spoke on February 28 to a convention of the independents in Markham Ontario. This is the gist of what I said.

"Why does the law not see the Internet, I asked?"

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From CARTT: "Commission Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais seemed at several points during the hearing to be worried of having a the CRTC (an arms-length government body) directing cash for local news production"


 

“I’m a bit surprised that we’re going down a path where, if not government and an agency of government, part of the executive arm of government, would suddenly be financing news and nobody seems to be saying, ‘Wait a minute; is that a good idea?” he said while questioning the owners of CHCH, who proposed a new news fund.

Exactly. And thank you for asking it, Mr Chairman. I perceive a man concerned with an important principle.

As I said, if the Broadcasting Act's licensing requirements extended to all "broadcasters", which would by the CRTC's interpretation include newspapers that post video clips on their websites, would the newspaper owners be clamoring for freedom of the press and no government licensing, or for subsidies, or both?

The answer is obvious. Both.

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'Free Basics' was one of those enlightened clever ideas whereby the people of India would benefit from Internet connectivity for free, as long as they were ready to endure the walled garden that Facebook intended for them. The Indian regulator banned it as an offence to net neutrality.

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The incomparable Ken Engelhart published this provocative - to me at least - opinion piece in the National Post, where its chief editor, Terence  Corcoran, maintains a libertarian and completely pre-Internet idea of competition in telecoms, of giant vertically integrated infrastructures slugging it out for market share.

In my time at the CRTC as Commissioner, there was no better shaper of thinking at a hearing than Ken Engelhart. On the subject of net neutrality, which is just non-discriminatory carriage in a computer era, we disagree. My reply to Ken Engelhart follows.

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Lest you be in doubt that the CRTC believes it has authority over video delivered across the Internet, I refer you to the transcript of the hearing currently underway in Hull regarding the policy framework for local and community television.

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I have been giving thought to the invisibility of the Internet, and in particular, to the learned inability of lawyers to account for it.

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Tim Berners-Lee put up the first website 25 years ago today. The occasion ought to be marked with speeches in Parliament, the erection of a statue of Berners-Lee in a major public park, and fireworks.  In the long perspective of history, the Web will rank with the printing press and the telephone as the revolutionary advances they were. But the Web would be impossible without the Internet, which is prior and even more important.

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The title is a reference to an early Frank Zappa tune, which only Mike Hennessy and I will recall, through a haze, darkly. Why, when the underlying broadcast advertizer-supported model is in such deep trouble, has there so much scripted television been produced? Why, when the opera houses are shutting down, according to the broadcasting industry, do so many operas keep being written? This is contrary to reason, if the premises are true.

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The Government of Quebec has introduced its website blocking legislation. The intention is to have ISPs in Quebec compelled to block a set of gambling  sites, which list will be drawn up by the Regie des loteries:

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An article in the invaluable CARTT newsletter speaks of the decline of local television news. On the same day an article in the Washington Examiner bemoans the death of hard news in the newspaper business. So what is to be done? The answer is simple. Nothing whatever.

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Freedom House publishes an annual review of how countries treat the Internet. Canada's record is exemplary. We came third in the world, behind Iceland at #1 and Estonia at #2. One is a Lutheran society which was born in a rebellion against centralizing authority of Kings, and the other is a Lutheran society born in resistance to the centralizing authority of Tsars. Some peoples have never forgotten about freedom, and their Internet policies show it.

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Ted Cruz, the appellate lawyer who is running as Republican Presidential candidate,  expressed concern with Obama's moves to control the Internet. As usual, Republicans are confusing the wolves for the sheep, and being the predator party, they run with the wolves.

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Odessa sits on the Ukrainian edge of the Black Sea. It is a town that, like much of the former Soviet Union, last saw great prosperity before World War 1. The twentieth century was a catastrophe in these parts,

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