Bell Pressures Brock University Exec into Supporting Censorship

The Fairplay Canada tactics are once again in question after documents reveal the pressure tactics being used to garner support for Internet censorship.

More controversy is swireling around members of Fairplay Canada. This time, it is the pressure tactics Bell is pushing onto a Brock University executive. In a letter sent by Mark Milliere, he reminds Brian Hutchings that TSN hires many students for internships. While the letter does not directly say that this relationship will cease, the fact that this reminder is in the letter requesting support for Internet censorship at all could be misconstrued as a veiled threat.

In response, Michael Geist points out that the ensuing letter supporting Internet censorship sparked immediate backlash. Other faculty members issued their own interventions in the CRTC consultation condemning the position:

we stand in opposition to the intervention by Vice President, Administration on behalf of Brock University. Vice-President Hutching’s intervention was undertaken without consultation with the wider Brock University community, including faculty, librarians, and Senate; therefore, his submission should not be seen as indicative of the views of Brock University as a whole.

The revelations certainly put into perspective the possible desparate situation the coalition for Internet censorship finds themselves in right now. The Fairplay Canada started off seemingly on a strong foot with many including CBC, Bell, and Rogers initiating the push to bring censorship into Canada. Some supporters of the coalition were quite surprising given that ISPs, at least in the past, have never really been huge fans of arbitrary censorship.

As has happened many times in the past, such efforts to crack down on the Internet began to fell apart. First, the court of public opinion wound up going against the coalition when Canadians showed up in droves to oppose Internet censorship. Expert opinion also worked against the coalitions efforts.

From there, the claims of a dying industry fell completely apart when information surfaced that the industry is experiencing the exact opposite in report after report after report after report after report.

The claims were further undermined when Cineplex, one of the Fairplay Canada’s supporters, admitted that losses had nothing to do with piracy.

So, we have gone from a mighty unstoppable coalition to a group of corporations who pretty much lost all credibility in their efforts to censor the Internet. In that perspective, it’s no real surprise that threats and intimidation are about one of the only viable tools left in the war chest. It is by far not the first time members of the coalition used threats to try and get their way. Back in February, we published an article that pointed out flaws on some of the statistics being used by a member of the coalition. Instead of offering a counterpoint or asking to have their side of the story published, that member threatened to sue us if we allowed these criticisms to remain online. So, in that light, these other pressure tactics come as no surprise to us because it fits the pattern of intimidation members are exerting on others to get their way.

At this stage, it is quite plausible that what we are witnessing is one side of the debate seeing the writing on the wall. Rather then admit defeat on this political issue, those fighting for censorship are lashing out in a last ditch effort to try and win support for their cause using any means necessary. Ultimately, it may end up making matters worse for Fairplay Canada members because it can make them look like little more than bullies rather than people who wish to debate political issues.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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