CRTC will not regulate Internet

After a year of consultations and deliberations, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has announced that it will not regulate the Internet.

"Our message is clear: The CRTC will not regulate the Internet, nothing on the Internet," said Francoise Bertrand, CRTC chairwoman. "The Canadian new media industry is vibrant, highly competitive and successful without regulation."

The CRTC's hearings on new media brought together a mix of organizations from broadcasters and telecom companies to free-speech advocates and Internet service providers.

The commission sought answers to three basic questions:

  • How is new media likely to affect broadcasting and telecommunications?
  • What makes new media services broadcasting or telecommunications services?
  • What would be CRTC's role, if any, in regulating these services under the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act?

CRTC Vice Chair David Colville said the message from Internet companies wasn't just 'keep your hands off' - the message was we think you should keep your hands off because there is no need to regulate.

"The exemption provision in the Act says you can exempt it [a service] if you feel you don't need to regulate it because the objectives of the Act are being met, that is content is being created, and it certainly is in Canada and that's what persuaded us," Colville said.

The CRTC also announced that it will not regulate pornography and illegal content.

Colville said the parties that appeared before the CRTC all agreed that while it might be a problem there are better approaches to dealing with it than to try deal with it through regulation of content as we do with more traditional media.

The CRTC decision leaves the internet wide open for content development. A decision that some fear may have negative repercussions on traditional broadcast mediums.

Television and radio producers are worried that their market share may be eroded once technology allows broadcast quality television from anywhere in the world to be aired over the Internet.

Colville said at present the Internet appears to be having little impact on traditional broadcasters so it didn't seem to be a problem at this time.

However, Colville said the CRTC may take another look at this issue once the industries converge.