Timothy M. Denton

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Website blocking: saving Lotto Quebec from competition

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I used to think it was somewhat cynical to observe that, when your business model is failing, you legislate against its  rivals. Quebec has proven this point to be precisely accurate. The papers have noticed that Quebec's website blocking legislation has passed into law.

Quebec has achieved the trifecta of a law that is patently unconstitutional, futile, and odious. On the futility of website blocking I wrote on November 13, 2015. The message was that virtual private networks have been invented, and they cannot be un-invented. They can be made not to work if the gambling sites Quebec is afraid of decide not to accept being reached by VPNs, which is unlikely.

As to the unconstitutionality of the legislation, federal jurisdiction over telecommunications is likely to be upheld against so massive a technical interference with federally regulated networks.

As to the odious nature of the legislation, it all depends on one's attitude towards despotism. Quebec now places Canada in the ranks of Iran, Turkey, China, Russia and other practitioners of Internet censorship.

What is going on in the minds of people who authorize this sort of legislation? What kinds of legal advice are the ministers and civil servants receiving?

Writing in the 19th century, Francis Parkman was the famed Bostonian historian of the French political experiment in North America, 1630-1763. He wrote on the basis of the voluminous records of the Ancien Regime's  Ministere de la marine, Ministere des colonies, Champlain's memoirs and the Jesuit Relations among other source materials. From these troves of direct reports on sometimes hair-raising adventures, battles, massacres, negotiations with the natives, voyages of discovery, conversions, and spiteful court intrigues, Parkman wrote volumes of the most exciting history I have ever read. His conclusion, which is branded in my memory, was that the French regime in North America strove for "conformity in society, uniformity in religion, and exclusion in economics".

Despite more than two hundred and fifty three years since the end of the French regime in North America, the political instincts of Louis XIV are absolutely unchanged in Quebec City. If you wish to understand Quebec's political actions, you cannot go far wrong if you remembers the mantra: conformity in society, uniformity in religion, and exclusion in economics.

The website blocking legislation is the direct expression of the desire to achieve exclusion in economics. is it not time for Quebec to advance beyond the economic doctrines of Louis XIV?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 Tuesday, 22 October 2019
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