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The Klingon Empire sends official congratulations to Chairman Jean Pierre Blais

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The  Klingon Empire salutes you, Chairman Blais. According to reports we have heard from reliable sources, you have deliberately arranged this confrontation with the Internet.

 

You have asked the parties most implicated in the Internet, Netflix and Google, to appear before you, when it seems they only wanted to write paper submissions. You have demanded of them data on their Canadian subscribership. You have treated them as subjects, as a sovereign must. You plainly indicated your wrath would fall upon them if they did not, and that they would face the lifting of their exemption order.

Now these rebellious peasants have declined to submit to their liege lord. You will have to make a ruling that they have disobeyed, and it will have to involve at least a decision of the Commission, on which other Commissioners sit. Accordingly a number of your colleagues will have to agree with you on this course of action. Indeed it would probably involve another hearing  of the Commission if the principles of natural justice were to be followed. Then the judgment would have to be registered with the Federal Court, and then defied, and then a constitutional case will erupt, and voila!, seven years later, the Supreme Court will have decided that the Broadcasting Act gives CRTC  jurisdiction over the Internet, to licence every person who uploads video to the Internet as a "broadcaster" and therefore subject to large financial penalties if they broadcast without a licence.

But natural justice is a human convention, not a Klingon one. We admire your forbearance in tolerating the presumptuous effrontery of the natives of the Internet, who badly need to be brought to heel. It was a bold move. The federal Cabinet, the Canadian people, the large Internet companies like Google: an admirable array of forces have been gathered to oppose you. Whom can you rally to the royal standard? Broadcasters? They are mostly owned by telecommunications carriers, whose only interest is profit. As long as they can make more money out of the closed set of options called "broadcasting", their loyalty might be bought for a time, but they see how the wind is going, and their lawyers are expensive to keep running for the time it would take to appeal this one to the top. So the support of large carriers will be equivocal and ambiguous. The Provinces? Ontario has signaled its decision to support you. Quebec may follow. Independent broadcasters? They have little money to spare from their federal subsidies. The Canadian movie producers association? The arts community? Yours allies are weak, your opponents strong.

The Klingon Empire sends its highest regards to you, Dread Sovereign, on this decision to confront the hopeless odds arrayed against you. Your bravery sets an example for all of us Klingons throughout the galaxy. Nevertheless, we regret to inform you, dear colleague, that our forces will be fully engaged with the Romulan Empire in the Delta Quadrant, and we are unable to send a fleet to rescue you. Die with honour.

We have the honour of being, Your Excellency, your most admiring supporters.

 

 

 

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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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