The deadline to tell the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to save net neutrality in Canada is fast approaching: February 16, 2009.
In response to complaints against the major telecoms companies operating internet pipes in Canada (Bell, Videotron, Rogers, etc.) for “throttling” and “traffic shaping” P2P data on their systems, the CRTC has asked Canadians what they think about the issue of net neutrality. This is the big one. If we lose net neutrality, we lose the intenet as an open and accessible medium for communication.
Unless the CRTC is convinced by Canadians that net neutrality should be preserved, they will let the telecommunications companies begin to shape internet use. If you are wondering what this might mean, just turn on your television: the internet will follow the path of every mass media before it. It will become a medium only accessible to the very wealthy, and citizens and community groups will be effectively shut out.
If you are still unsure about net neutrality, here are a few short videos to help explain. The best analogy that I’ve heard comes from Lawrence Lessig. Net neutrality is what we have with our telephones. We pay for a service that is entirely independent of the content of our conversations. The telecommunications companies want to base service and cost on the ability to differentiate among data that travels over their lines. Websites could be made to pay exorbitatnt fees to download quickly, or at all. Losing net neutrality would be like allowing telephone companies to charge different rates or provide different quality of service based on what we are talking about …
For more information about the CRTC process and background, check out CRTC 2008-19.
Tell your friends! Spread the word!