Canadian MP Announces Net Neutrality Bill During 300 Person Strong Rally

It has become an all-too often situation in Canada where there’s either a copyright or technology related bill being tabled or there are plans for such bills that many consumers end up having to fight against.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Now there seems to be someone about to table a bill that activists and concerned Canadians are all for.

Bell Canada has started the latest controversies surrounding bandwidth shaping in Canada. A lot of the controversies surrounded the throttling of BitTorrent – one common occurrence was the throttling of the BitTorrent download of a CBC released reality TV show called Canada’s Next great Prime Minister. The controversy spread when Internet Service resellers like Teksavvy were also throttled by Bell without notice. The controversy worsened for Bell when it was learned that Bell was only at 33% capacity during peak hours followed up by Bell’s announcement of a new video on demand service. With all this happening in the span of a few short months, it’s no wonder why Network Neutrality is currently a hot button topic on the regulation front. Obviously, breaking the rule of ‘you get what you paid for’ doesn’t sit well with Canadians expecting to get high speed internet.

Last week, we reported on the announcement of a Network Neutrality rally on parliament hill. It turns out, the rally was a huge success. The CBC reports that over 300 protesters showed up on Parliament Hill during the Network Neutrality Rally. From the report:

Parliament Hill was beset by about 300 people impassioned by an issue not usually associated with protest marches: internet access. “Save the internet,” read one angry placard. “Say no to Big Brother watching you,” said another.

The New Democratic Party’s Charlie Angus told the cheering crowd that the private member’s bill would protect Canadian consumers from having their internet speeds “throttled” by service providers.

“You are citizens of a digital realm and you have rights,” he said.

The protesters, some of whom boarded buses in the early morning hours to get to the rally, are supporters of net neutrality, a movement urging the government to enact rules that prevent large internet service providers (ISPs) from interfering with the free flow of information over the internet. “Our net not for sale,” they chanted, as well as, “Whose net? Our net.”

During the Rally, Charlie Angus, NDP MP, announced that he would be tabling a private members bill that would ensure that network neutrality is a part of Canadian law. At the rate things are going in Canada, chances are, the private members bill will be tabled faster than the still upcoming copyright bill.

Angus also appeared on CBC’s Search Engine on the 22nd of May, just before he announced that he would table a network neutrality bill to talk generally about copyright related issues as seen in the government among other general issues.

As a general rule in Canada in the past couple of years, network neutrality always played a low profile in the shadow of copyright reform and surveillance bills. Back when it was first discovered that Rogers was throttling BitTorrent, it seemed as though Michael Geist was about the only person raising concerns about it while Canadians were debating things like Bill C-60 and Bill C-74 (Copyright reform and the Surveillance bill of the previous government) It’s interesting to note the difference in situation between the previous government and this government. Now all three issues are at the forefront of Canadian technology related issues, though privacy may have somewhat taken a back seat in the network neutrality debate surrounding Bell and the other ISPs at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) these days. Even if the laws haven’t, the times and debates have changed in Canada.

Via Net Neutrality and Michael Geist

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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