New net neutrality bill: now slightly tougher

By Paul Jay, CBC News.ca.

On Friday federal New Democrat digital affairs critic Charlie Angus tabled a private member's bill to keep internet service providers from throttling speeds and shaping traffic, his second attempt after an earlier bill got as far as first reading before last fall's election was called.

After a closer look, the new bill, C-398, is almost identical to last year's offering, with two notable exceptions. One difference, as Michael Geist points out , is that while the first bill gave ISPs the right to "manage the flow of network traffic in a reasonable manner in order to relieve congestion", the new bill amends that to "extraordinary congestion", which in essence requires a greater burden of proof on the ISP to show its network is being congested by the activities of its users.

The second change is similar: in the old bill, ISPs could manage their network in order to "prevent any violation of federal or provincial law", which seemed to leave open the possibility that an ISP could claim a violation (perhaps illegal-file sharing?) to justify its actions.

In the second version, that's been changed to not limiting the ISPs when it comes to acting "in accordance with federal and provincial law."

Geist said the new language is "a bit tighter on the compliance with the law."

Net neutrality promises to be a hot topic again in a month when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission holds hearings on the issue.