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Canada Embraces Net Neutrality

By Moira Vahey  Posted by Ben Dench (about the submitter)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission today released a rigorous Network Neutrality framework designed to scrutinize all discriminatory practices by Internet service providers.

The CRTC ruled that any form of traffic blocking or prioritization warrants investigation. The CRTC further determined that such practices must be held to a strict standard: ISPs must demonstrate that the practice is necessary to resolve a clear problem; that the practice does not go beyond what is needed to resolve the problem; and that investment in building a better network for all Internet uses somehow cannot solve the problem effectively.

In testimony and filings before the CRTC last summer, Free Press and the Open Internet Coalition demonstrated that ISPs have both the ability and the incentive to monitor and control every use of the Internet, and to engage in anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior by discriminating against some uses of the Internet and giving priority to others. The CRTC's decision establishes a framework for network management practices that recognizes these important concerns.

"The CRTC's decision makes great strides toward preserving and protecting the free and open Internet," said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press, who testified before the CRTC in Ottawa in August. "The United States must move to prohibit actions by ISPs that undermine the competitive and innovative free market of the open Internet -- or risk diverging from the commitment to openness in the rest of the world."

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Highlights of the Canadian decision include:

"The Internet has given people the freedom to innovate without permission," said the CRTC, adding that "the core of the debate over 'net neutrality' is whether innovation will continue to come from the edges of networks, without permission."

Although "some measures are required to manage Internet traffic on ISP networks at certain points in the network at certain times," the CRTC found that network investment "should continue to be the primary solution" to limit network congestion.When ISPs do manage traffic, the CRTC said, their practices "must be designed to address a defined need, and nothing more."If a complaint is lodged against an ISP's practice, the ISP must identify whether the practice "results in discrimination or preference." If the practice degrades or prioritizes any traffic to any degree, the ISP must show that the practice "is designed to address the need and achieve the purpose and effect in question, and nothing else."The ISP must also show that the practice "results in discrimination or preference as little as reasonably possible," and must "explain why ... network investment or economic approaches alone would not reasonably address the need and effectively achieve the same purpose" as the practice.Read the text of the decision here:

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Ben Dench graduated valedictorian of his class from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in the Spring Semester of 2007 with a B.A. in philosophy (his graduation speech, which received high praise, is available on YouTube). He is currently (more...)

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