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Is Canadian Net Neutrality Doomed?
There is growing concern in Canada that ‘net neutrality’ — the government mandate that internet service providers provide equal bandwidth and speed to all websites on the internet — is soon to be under serious attack.
The assault will come in the form of a proposal to be submitted by a Bell Canada led coalition to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to create an ‘Internet Piracy Review Agency’ (IPRA).
Under Bell Canada’s vision, the new IPRA would have the unilateral power to quit hosting any website it saw fit — without the need for prior judicial permission.
Canadian Online Casinos Under Attack
Should Bell Canada and its partners get their way, they would be free to cut off access to websites at a moment’s notice. Should that happen, it could potentially decimate Canadian online casinos.
Michael Geist, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa and expert on internet policy, was recently quoted as having harsh words for the pandora’s box such a policy could open if implemented:
“This is a dramatic shift. This is a prospect of significant internet regulation being done by the CRTC and without any court oversight,” he said.
Geist also called out the measure for being more far reaching than anything ever proposed before in Canada.
Is Blackmail Next?
Of course, Bell Canada is promising that if granted, such a power would only be used to remove sites hosting pirated content and never as a competitive or economic weapon.
However, it goes without saying that the power to cut off access to websites without obtaining a court order beforehand would give telecom companies the power they need to blackmail sites into paying exorbitant fees in order to continue to be accessible to internet users.
If that were to happen, the price of such extortion would not only be unfair — it could also end in Canadians losing access to many of their favorite online casinos if it turns out to be more than they are willing to pay.