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Canada takes the fast, open road; supports net neutrality

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In a smart, essential and crucial move, the Canadian Parliament voted in support of net neutrality, protecting the ability of Canadians to access the internet without considering or worrying about paid fast lanes or throttled service messing things up.

Leaders of all three major political parties voted in support of M-168, which asks the House of Commons to recognize five things. While not a formal bill, it states that Canada’s net neutrality regulations have allowed the internet to thrive thanks to “principles of openness, transparency, freedom and information.” It also highlights the “importance of continuing to preserve ‘open internet’ to various aspects of democracy and citizen and societal well-being” and a call on the Canadian government to incorporate net neutrality in the upcoming Telecommunications Act and Broadcasting Act reviews, Digital Journal reports.

The measure, sponsored by MP John Oliver of Oakville, was unanimously adopted.

“Requiring that net neutrality be a guiding principle in the review and update of these acts signals a clear commitment to placing consumers and content providers first,” Oliver said, according to Financial Post. “That is a very important signal to send to the industry.”

This is all well and good and could—should – take on added weight when Parliament eventually takes up those acts. There’s no set time frame for that as of yet, but keep in mind that there’s an effort reportedly underway by some of the big telecom companies in Canada to derail things.

At the end of 2017, Canadaland reported that the CRTC received a draft proposal to develop the Internet Piracy Review Agency, a safe-enough sounding not-for-profit agency that “would maintain a list of websites it had determined were peddling pirated materials and force all internet service providers in the country to block access to them.”

Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, called the draft proposal “enormously problematic” and “a dramatic shift. This is a prospect of significant internet regulation being done by the CRT and without any court oversight,” he told Canadaland.

A representative for the FairPlay coalition, which supports the draft proposal, claims it is respectful of net neutrality. “Internet service providers remain entirely neutral. They have no independent choice regarding which sites to block. That power rests entirely with the CRTC and the oversight of the courts,” Cogeco Communications spokeswoman Nancy Bouffard told the Globe and Mail.
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