Saturday December 16, 2017

Ottawa's push to defend net neutrality

A demonstrator opposed to the roll back of net neutrality rules holds a "Save The Net" sign outside the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters ahead of a open commission meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. The FCC is slated to vote to roll back a 2015 utility-style classification of broadband and a raft of related net neutrality rules, including bans on broadband providers blocking and slowing lawful internet traffic on its way to consumers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A demonstrator opposed to the roll back of net neutrality rules holds a "Save The Net" sign outside the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters ahead of a open commission meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. The FCC is slated to vote to roll back a 2015 utility-style classification of broadband and a raft of related net neutrality rules, including bans on broadband providers blocking and slowing lawful internet traffic on its way to consumers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Listen 7:21

The impact of this week's decision by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to reverse rules that regulated internet providers like utilities, freeing providers to block or slow access to content and services online, might not end up being felt by Canadians, but that won't stop the Liberal government from loudly voicing its concerns.

"This will impact consumers, business and our democracy," Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, told The House.

"When individuals or companies need to get access to the internet, have to pay more for that, or have gatekeepers, there's going to be consequences for consumers in terms of the information they receive and how much they pay for that information. Right now information is treated equally, that no longer will be the case going forward."

Bains said the Canadian government is working on ways to strengthen the legislation that is already in place in Canada which enforces net neutrality.

He also suggested Canada could use the ongoing NAFTA talks and the G7 to discuss the issue.

"The objective would be to make sure that no private companies or internet service providers or telecommunication companies should be throttling or blocking information," he said.

But not everybody believes the FCC's decision will be felt beyond America's borders.

‚Äč"What the FCC does is only applicable to the United States," Srinivasan Keshav,  a professor of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, told The House.

Keshav added that Canadian consumers shouldn't be worried.

"The Americans don't own the internet, and their rulings don't affect the rest of the world."