Open Letter Signed By Experts, Groups to Halt Canada’s War on the Internet

The actions of the government has prompted experts and organizations to pen an open letter urging the government to stop attacking the Internet.

Canada’s war on the Internet has been escalating and, as a result, become increasingly high profile. Whether it is the push for a link tax to break down a core building block of the Internet, foot dragging on critical privacy reform, cracking down on user generated content through Bill C-10, or directly targeting free speech through an apparent up and coming “online harms” bill, the Canadian government has gone from an open minded advocate of the Internet to a government that wants to crack down on said Internet. In response to these assaults on the Internet, advocates and experts have given up and declared the Trudeau government “anti-Internet“.

Of course, these efforts have not gone unopposed. Whether it is us here on Freezenet providing crucial reporting on the matter, experts providing in-depth analysis, or organizations spreading the word about what the government has been up to these days, Canadians have been fighting back against these threatening proposed laws.

Now we are learning that there is another big push to get the Canadian government to stop attacking the Internet. In an open letter posted on the Internet Society, a number of experts and digital rights organizations who signed on are urging the Canadian government to push the pause button on these attacks on the Internet. From open letter:

We are Canadian Internet policy and technical professionals, writing as concerned experts and on behalf of all those who care about the future of a free and open Internet. We call on you to stop harming the Internet, the freedoms and aspirations of every individual in this country, and our knowledge economy through overreaching regulatory policies that will have significant, yet unintended consequences for the free and open Internet in Canada.

Now more than ever, all members of Canadian society rely on the Internet. A recent series of proposals and actions taken by your government threaten to adversely impact our freedom to access online content of our choice, to post legal content without fear of censorship, and even risk disrupting the technical infrastructure of the Internet. Such proposals include amendments to the Broadcasting Act in Bill C-10, forthcoming online harms legislation, and proposals from both the CRTC and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to block content at the network level.

We believe that the Internet should remain an open, globally-connected and secure resource for everyone – a model that Canada has historically supported and championed. This is underpinned by open participation and collaboration, both of which have helped Canada earn global recognition as a digital leader.

However, it appears that Canada is not immune to the growing trend of government intervention to curtail freedom, and seek to control parts of the Internet’s infrastructure, in ways reminiscent of actions taken by authoritarian governments.

We ask you and your team to pause and take the time to study the harmful implications of recently tabled Internet policies and regulations. We are happy and available to assist in this process.

The letter is signed by a number of established organizations and players in the world of digital rights. This includes the VP of Teksavvy, a retired ICANN director, senior members and associates for Citizen Lab, the executive director of Open Media, a senior member of CIPPIC, and the Chairman for the Internet Society. There is also a huge list of experts and individuals who also signed the letter as well. Because of this, this letter has some pretty significant backing from people who know a heck of a lot about how the Internet and personal freedoms work.

As a result, it lends a substantial amount of additional credibility to those who are voicing concerns about these issues.

What’s more is that this letter also puts the Canadian government on notice. If things like Bill C-10 pass, it’s pretty much a sure thing that it will be challenged in court. Organizations like CIPPIC are not afraid of taking large names to court. In 2006, CIPPIC filed a lawsuit against Sony over the rootkit scandal of the day – and won. The organization was also among the many who were recognized as stopping Internet censorship in 2018 as well. That is by no means a complete list of the organizations victories, but it does provide a nice small sample.

At any rate, a letter like that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Canadians will be defending themselves even if something like Bill C-10 is ultimately passed. The real question is, does the government want to go through years of litigation and, potentially, go through the humiliation of having their law be declared unconstitutional? At this stage, that has to be a serious question that needs to be asked within the government. After all, if they keep pushing these laws that attack the open Internet, this outcome of being taken to court is almost all but a sure thing at this stage.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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