Liberals support Net Neutrality. Now what?

By Paul Jay, Last week Marc Garneau, the federal Liberal party critic for Industry, Science and Technology, spoke in Parliament and for the first time declared his party's support for the principle of net neutrality.

It was a surprise declaration for the Liberals, who previously had been silent on the issue. When I spoke with Garneau in November shortly after he took his post, he said he hadn't yet formed an opinion on the subject. Now his party "supports the principle of net neutrality and an open and competitive internet environment," as Garneau said Thursday.

The timing of the announcement is interesting, as it comes a few weeks after NDP MP Charlie Angus introduced a new version of his net neutrality bill, and a few weeks before the CRTC hearings into internet traffic management are to begin.

But what it amounts to isn't clear: does Garneau's support translate into support of Angus's bill, and if so, is it the rare private member's bill that might actually have legs?

And what impact will the CRTC hearings have on the bill itself? It's likely both parties will wait to see how it plays out in July before pursuing the subject any further, since in many ways the hearings will help in more clearly defining the practices of bandwidth throttling and traffic shaping and their implications.

But perhaps the real impact of Garneau's statement might not come about unless the Liberal party forms the government. Then many who advocate that ISPS need to prove their networks are congested before managing their traffic will come calling on the Liberals and demand more than just a sound bite.

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Mia Nony


This is a message for every Canadian Member of Parliament: IF you are prepared to be cavalier about the right to privacy of Canadians, IF you are considering advocating "driftnet" surveillance/filtering laws which arbitrarily permit predator governments to stalk the entire citizenry (which in turn may not re-elect you!), & IF you feel inclined to vote in favour of any bill which legitimises the already existing technology & authorises Echelon style invasion of Canadian privacy & surveillance of Canadian internet activity ........ then you must also vote for an amendment to this proposed bill which would immediately mandate a legal requirement that all so inclined MPs be made to remove all doors from their own homes, -all of them- the front door, all bedroom doors, all bathroom doors. Perhaps that might make you feel a tad more empathic regarding callous abuse of power regarding any bill which proposed the violation of the rights of others who elected you?

Posted June 23, 2009 02:40 PM



It really took me about 5 minutes to understand the concerns Mia Nony. If a bill is passed to allow the free flow of communication between everyone there will be a need to regulate the kind of data which is harvested from users. Many people install software on their own computers which allows other companies to harvest user interaction and behaviors. This Net Neutrality concept seems to be focused on how things are being billed or profited from. Larger companies which can give services away for free while snooping on a consumers habits, and then reselling those consumer habits to others will then be the privacy issue.

In the information age. Can you profit from information? Then the free exchange of it should be scrutinized. I will trade you some beads for that land over there.

Posted July 4, 2009 08:18 PM


The concept of net neutrality is to treat all the data packets the same. Be it Bell serving their Customers packets off a peer to peer network OR bell serving a mobile client their pay per view mobile television, all the packets, all the data is sent with the same priority. Just because you arn't paying 400$/month doesn't mean your internet should be throttled.. the internet is about communication on the global level.

Posted July 16, 2009 04:39 PM

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