Your Community

Net neutrality rules cut: Experts discuss future of accessible internet in Canada

Categories: Community, Science & Technology

Got questions about net neutrality? Join our live chat Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. ET and ask our panel of special experts. (Getty Images)

"One of the founding ideas of the internet" was killed last week.

Net neutrality, a bland term for an idea so passionately championed by so many people working in tech and media, is that founding idea according to David Christopher, communications manager for

It is the principle that all data on the internet should be treated equally, and that internet providers should be prevented from getting special treatment or access to that data. Net neutrality activists believe that average citizens like you or I should be guaranteed the same access online as corporations and large internet service providers.

The Associated Press puts it this way:

  • Under so-called net neutrality rules adopted in 2010 by the Federal Communications Commission, wired broadband providers such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon were barred from prioritizing some types of internet traffic over others.

    That means a cable company couldn't hinder access to Hulu and other internet video services, even though they compete with the company's own TV services.

In Canada, the CRTC is now seeing at least one case involving mobile phone access fees to the internet, according to Radio-Canada International.

Just last week, an appeals court in the U.S. struck down the FCC's net neutrality rules, after a challenge from Verizon, provoking concern from supporters of easily accessible internet around the world.

"This decision -- if it remains unchallenged -- raises the possibility that large internet service providers could charge certain companies extra for delivering their content to subscribers, and give preference to the content coming from those who are willing pay them a fee, or have cut some other kind of deal," writes GigaOm's Mathew Ingram.

"In effect, the democratized nature of the internet would be replaced by a feudal system in which the ability to reach a consumer would be auctioned off to the highest bidder"

What does this all mean for you? What services will consumers have access to in future? What does the future hold for open media in Canada and the world?

Joining us for a live chat about these issues was:

  • Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he is Canada research chair in internet and e-commerce law. He is an internationally syndicated columnist on technology law issues, with regular columns appearing in the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen.

  • Peter Nowak is a journalist, author and syndicated blogger for Macleans and Canadian Business magazines. He has written about technology for publications around the world -- from Canada to New Zealand.

  • Craig Aaron is the president and CEO of Free Press, a U.S.-based organization that advocates for universal and affordable internet access and diverse ownership. He is an author and regularly speaks on media, internet and journalism issues across America. Aaron was previously an investigative reporter.

Replay the entire chat here:

To join the chat, simply:

  • Click on "Sign In" inside the Spreecast window.

  • You will be prompted to connect with Facebook, Twitter or an email address. Choose one, sign in and follow the prompts to access the chat.

  • To ask the guest a question, click on the "Camera" button. One of our producers will send you a private message before bringing you up live.

  • To ask a text-based question, click "Submit Question," and type it in, or expand the window and join the live chat in the right-hand box.

** Your connection will work best if you have a strong Wi-Fi connection or a direct broadband connection. You'll also need the latest version of Flash installed, a well-lit room and a set of headphones.

Tags: Community, Technology

Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.