This statement was originally published on openmedia.org on 19 August 2021.
Canada is entering the 2021 federal election with our Internet policy totally adrift
Without a strong positive vision for the Internet from any party, powerful industry lobbies, Big Telecom’s deep pockets, and the surveillance-happy folk at CSIS and the RCMP are driving the only proposals with any real momentum.
From the content we stream to what we say on social media, lobbyists are taking advantage of our frustration with real problems of the modern Internet to justify more money and more power for the giants they represent. Meanwhile, proposals like privacy reform Bill C-11 that had real potential to defend the rights of Internet users in Canada ended up withering on the vine, never getting serious consideration or debate.
While our government is busy proposing new Internet regulators, they’ve allowed the interests and views of Big Telecom to fully capture our existing telecom regulator, the CRTC. Under Chair (and former Telus executive) Ian Scott, the CRTC has delivered blow after blow to our Internet and wireless affordability in a series of anti-consumer decisions that show no signs of stopping.
If there was ever a time to put out an Internet SOS, it’s now.
That’s why we’re calling for a policy reset this election. It’s time our leaders listen to us, the voters, by embracing a vision for the Internet that puts the rights of ordinary Canadians first.
Good Internet policy won’t come from a battle royale between tech companies that want to surveil and influence us, and government agencies that want the same. And it certainly won’t come from the two working in league, like with Big Telecom’s buddy-buddy, grab-a-pint relationship with Ian Scott’s CRTC. A better Canadian Internet will be one that gives each of us more options and more control over the experience we have online, supported by policies that guarantee affordable access to high-quality connectivity for all.
That’s why OpenMedia is calling on every party to guarantee:
- Universal Internet Access: Fast, affordable, and competitive home and mobile Internet access for everyone in Canada.
- Empowered Internet Users: Internet content regulation that empowers us, the users, to make our own choices about what we experience online.
- Expanded Privacy Protections: Reformed privacy laws built on our ongoing consent for use of our data, with meaningful punishment for violations.
Find our detailed recommendations for parties below:
Everyone in Canada should have unrestricted access to multiple options for affordable, high-speed, world-class Internet, regardless of where they live.
- Guarantee Affordable Home & Wireless Internet: Introduce universal robust market competition to drive Canada’s sky-high home and mobile Internet prices downward.
- World-Class Connectivity – Everywhere: Every household in Canada, regardless of where they live, must be served by the gold standard of Internet technology: fibre.
- Public Interest Comes First: End Big Tech and Big Telecom calling the shots, and put power back in the hands of people to guide policies & regulation that serve us.
Guarantee Affordable Home & Wireless Internet:
- Set a target for driving down home Internet and mobile Internet prices relative to Canada’s peers in the international community. “Better than before” won’t cut it.
- Block the Rogers/Shaw buyout, and reform the Competition Act so that similar market consolidation won’t continue to make home and wireless Internet more expensive.
- Explicitly direct the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Ministry of Industry, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) to overhaul Canada’s telecom market to revolve around robust services-based competition, including by upholding fair wholesale rates and opening up our wireless (MVNOs) and fibre wholesale regimes.
- Establish a dedicated fund for fostering true community-owned broadband projects.
World-Class Connectivity – Everywhere:
- Commit to fibre infrastructure as the gold standard for high-speed, high quality Internet connectivity in Canada.
- Put a plan into action to replace stopgap satellite broadband coverage with fibre in all rural, remote, and Indigenous communities by 2030.
Public Interest Comes First:
- End corporate capture of our telecom regulator by appointing a public interest champion as head of the CRTC — not another former Big Telecom executive.
- Hold Big Telecom accountable by mandating Internet Service Providers (ISPs) accurately depict their average speed performance to the public before we buy their services.
- Introduce effective penalties for misleading or exploitative sales practises, and establish broad private right of action for consumers to fight back against mistreatment by telecommunications providers.
- Put Big Telecom’s lobbying activities under the microscope. Release detailed editions of monthly lobbying reports on Canada’s largest telecom companies who meet with CRTC, federal Cabinet, and ISED.
- Reign in Big Tech device manufacturers by enshrining in federal law a broad right to repair and buy parts for the devices and technologies we own.
Freedom of Expression
Everyone in Canada should be empowered to share, collaborate, and express themselves freely online.
- Don’t Break the Internet: Reject all government proposals that would block websites in Canada’s Internet, or favour some types of Internet content over others.
- Protect Online Speech: Guarantee that any new rules that impact online speech will uphold our Charter of Rights, not expand beyond offline restrictions, and receive full public consultation and parliamentary debate.
- Empower Internet Users: Any new rules for online platforms must empower us, the users and voters, first and foremost.
- Support Canada’s Internet Creators: Support digital creators to tell our stories on the Internet.
Don’t Break the Internet
- Guarantee no introduction of a website blocking regime in Canada for any purpose, including copyright or online harms.
- Commit to maintaining our existing copyright system: notice and notice, with civil penalties for copyright violations.
- Reject Bill C-10, and guarantee no new regulation of user-generated content or content discoverability online.
- Tax web giants simply and fairly. But don’t tax specific types of content, distorting the Internet. This means:
- Yes to applying the GST/HST to online services.
- Yes to a general Digital Services Tax.
- No to taxing links to news content.
- No special taxes on user-generated audiovisual content.
- No to taxing Internet platforms to support production of legacy media content.
Protect Online Speech
- Check any legislation that impacts our online speech to ensure it is compliant with our Charter rights before bringing it to Parliament – not afterwards.
- Guarantee no expansion of online speech regulation beyond what is already illegal for offline speech in Canada.
- Commit to full, open public consultation and parliamentary debate around any legislation with implications for our online speech.
The post #InternetSOS: OpenMedia’s 2021 Election Platform for our Internet appeared first on IFEX.
Source: MEDIA FEED