Timothy M. Denton

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Canada's Internet record - great, and about to get worse

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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.

The country reports are based on several factors: a) ease of access to the Internet, including affordability; b) limits or blocks on content, and c) violations of users' rights.

In this regard Canada has done well, obviously.  Access is reasonably priced. Content blocking is limited. However, all that could change with Quebec's attempts to restrict access to on-line gambling sites, except, of course, their own. I cite the report:

 

In April 2015, the government of Quebec announced plans in its budget to require ISPs to block access to online gambling sites. The list of blocked sites will be developed by Loto-Québec, a government agency. This is expected to act as a revenue-enhancing measure for the government by directing gamblers to the state government’s own Loto-Québec-run online gaming site, Espacejeux. A November 2014 report found that Espacejeux was not meeting revenue targets, due to the popularity of other sites. The government believes that the website blocking will increase revenues by $13.5 million in 2016-17 and $27 million per year thereafter. The plan is likely to face a legal challenge, both on free speech and jurisdictional grounds, since the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over telecommunications regulation.

 

In another blog posting ("An architecture of Censorship") I wrote about how futile this measure will be. It will impose large costs of Quebec-based ISPs, it will be easily evaded by customers using VPNs, and it will force a constitutional fight between ISPs and the Quebec government, eventually implicating the feds to defend their exclusive jurisdiction over telecommunications as an interprovincial undertaking.

If anyone needs an expert witness on the futility of website blocking, I refer them to Geoff Huston, the chief scientist for APNIC, the Asia-Pacific assigned of IP addresses. He has written about this  in the Internet Protocol Journal.

 

 

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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.

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Guest Monday, 26 August 2019
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