Saturday, May 30, 2009

Charlie Angus' New Net Neutrality Bill

Charlie Angus has a new net neutrality bill, private members Bill C-398.

The main differences from his previous bill on the same subject are the addition of the word "extraordinary" and the change of terminology from "network operator" (which is defined) to "telecommunications service providers", which isn't defined.

Frankly, it suffers from the same problem as before - which is that it puts the fox in charge of the chicken coop - allowing Bell, Rogers and/or whichever other likely duopolistic ISP ultimately controls your bandwidth to"manage", i.e. "throttle", in order, inter alia to:
  • "relieve extraordinary congestion"
  • "handle breaches of the terms of service"
Do we really want the likes of Bell and Rogers to determine what is "extraordinary congestion" - or to unilaterally impose, change and adjudicate breaches of self serving terms of service? Should the fox in the chicken coop be allowed to decide when he is suffering from "extraordinary" hunger?

As well, there is no explicit consumer remedy provided - which may be something of a Freudian slip, since it's unlikely that there would ever be a violation found according to the terms of the bill.

Charlie Angus has done great work on the copyright file and other issues, but I'm afraid that this bill won't help and would probably do far more harm than good to consumers if it somehow gets enacted.


1 comment:

  1. I agree that this bill as worded isn't of much use. To further your point, in (3) it uses language such as:

    "...shall not prevent or obstruct a user from attaching any device...provided the device does not substantially degrade the use of the network by other subscribers"

    Wouldn't whether a device (or application for that matter) substantially degrade network performance depend on whether an ISP decides to upgrade their network capacity? Also, what does "substantially" mean?

    To top it off, I wonder why Charlie Angus would throw this into the mix when the CRTC hearings are just around the corner. Wouldn't it have been worth waiting to see what comes out of the discussions at the hearings?