Steve Anderson asks some pertinent questions about the future of new media in Canada. People should take this issue very, very seriously if they value their free speech and free Internet.
Animated by networked conversations and shared media, the amalgamation of social media produces a living, breathing, interlinked media ecosystem. The question in my mind is, will this ecosystem defend itself when its very source of subsistence, the open Internet, is threatened?
This is not some abstract, hypothetical question: In the coming days Canada’s federal communications regulator, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunication Commission will issue a landmark ruling that has huge implications for the Internet in Canada. The CRTC decision will help determine whether Bell and other big telecoms can continue to “throttle”, and thus increasingly control, Internet traffic. This is certainly not going to be the final battle over Canada’s Internet, but it is a key battle.
Bell and other major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are already slowing down (”throttling”) online peer-to-peer (P2P) applications. In essence, this means we the users of the Internet already do not have access to all the Internet has to offer. If you’re trying to watch a CBC show online and it takes a day to download because you’re using a P2P application, as audience members reported last February, the limitations are quite real.
With the launch of Bell’s unthrottled video store that competes with independent content using P2P applications, we already have a de facto tiered Internet in many markets; work with Bell you can get on the fast unthrottled lane, use independent peer-to-peer applications and deal with a slow lane with unreliable service.