OpenMedia stages day of action to protect Net Neutrality in Canada

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

01 March 2018

We’ve already written about the threat to Net Neutrality that’s gathering speed in Canada, and how sad we are to see this particular U.S. export travel north of the border.

And it looks like we’re not the only ones who are perturbed by these events.

Digital rights advocacy group OpenMedia this week staged a “day of action” to protest a group of 25 corporations asking the federal government to create an official internet censorship committee—WITHOUT court oversight.

The group, which includes telecommunications giants Bell and Rogers, as well as CBC, claims that it is trying to crack down on online piracy. To achieve this, they’re asking Canada’s Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC) to implement a website-blocking system to indentify and block those sites and services “that are blatantly, overwhelmingly, or structurally engaged in piracy”, according to their proposal.

This system would mean that internet service providers (ISPs) would be legally obliged to block such websites once they were identified.

What privacy advocates are worried about, however, is how this framework could be used to censor free speech and control what Canadian web users can and can’t see. The proposal is said to hugely over-reach what’s necessary.

According to OpenMedia:

This dangerous and over-reaching proposal will lead to legitimate content and speech being censored, violating our right to free expression and the principles of Net Neutrality, which the federal government has consistently pledged support for.

OpenMedia has gathered together over 30 digital rights and civil liberties groups, including Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to fight back against these proposals.

On their day of action, which occurred this past Wednesday, they urged Canadian web users to write to the CRTC to strongly voice their opposition to this proposal, on the grounds that it poses a grave threat to the future of Net Neutality in this country.

Though the official day of action has passed, you can still (and should) add your voice to OpenMedia’s campaign here; we certainly will be.

As we’ve seen in the U.S., this is likely to be a long fight, and with the might of such huge corporations battling Net Neutrality, it likely won’t be an easy fight either.

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