Net Neutrality 03


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Net Neutrality 03

  1. 1. Net Neutrality: What is it? Net Neutrality (NN) is the principal that all data traffic on the internet should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISP’s) Currently, NN is a major issue of importance to everyone who uses the internet. Because of a lack of oversight and regulation, ISP’s are congesting parts of the ‘Information Super-Highway’ and giving priority to some data flow while hampering others, for example, slowing down Bittorrent file-sharing, while giving priority to their own products and services. Unlimited bandwidth (data flow) is a thing of the past, and internet premiums have gone up, while surfing speeds have gone down. The end result would result in an internet experience much like this:
  2. 2. These are the implications: 2007,
  3. 3. Throttling: what is it? <ul><li>Throttling is the practise of slowing down specific types of data. Internet Service providers have begun engaging in throttling that targets the Bittorrent file-sharing protocol. ISP’s say they have to do this to keep their internet speeds fast, but it is basically a discriminatory practise that runs contrary to the principal of Net Neutrality, which says all data should be treated equally with no preferences placed on them by providers. </li></ul>The graphs to the left show the effects of throttling on Bell’s DSL customers. The top shows bandwidth distribution and speed before throttling, the second a week after. The results are striking, and show a definite difference in bit rate for certain online functions. (Graph made by “TSI Gabe”, found at
  4. 4. What do our politicians say? <ul><li>The answer will surprise you: very little! </li></ul><ul><li>Industry Minister Jim Prentice (C), who recently pushed through a sweeping copyright reform bill to give the government more power to crack down on, among other things, illegal downloads, has pushed for the right of ISP’s to set their own limits, pointing out that Net Neutrality essentially boils down to property rights. </li></ul><ul><li>However, MP Charlie Angus has advocated government oversight for ISP’s and pushed for regulations that would make them more accountable to the consumers they serve, specifically prohibiting them from changing their price plans without notice. </li></ul>However, the question of Net Neutrality could eventually make its way to the Canadian Senate, where the appointed public servants date from another generation, one not quite sure of how the internet works or the role it plays in the lives of their constituents. When asked about Facebook, Conservative Senator Marjorie LeBreton ominously said, “Honourable senators, I have been asked about Facebook before. I never look at Facebook because I do not understand the technology. I think the concept is dangerous.” At this point, the implications of the Conservative digital program become downright disturbing. Top: Jim Prentice. Bottom: Charlie Angus. Photos from the Canadian Press
  5. 5. Who Is Michael Geist? <ul><li>&quot;While the definition of net neutrality is open to some debate, at the core is the commitment to ensuring that Internet service providers treat all content and applications equally with no privileges, degrading of service or prioritization based on the content's source, ownership or destination.&quot; - Michael Geist </li></ul><ul><li>If the Canadian Government has been slow or unwilling to address the issue of Net Neutrality, Michael Geist has been doing his best to make this the number one issue of public debate. </li></ul><ul><li>Born in 1968, and named one of “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40,” Geist is a Canadian Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. His blog, widely quoted amongst advocates of Net Neutrality, is widely read and talks about issues related to Canadian copyright reform, the development of the internet and its regulation in a changing world. </li></ul><ul><li>Geist has vocally ‘called out’ both members of Parliament and executives at various ISP’s in regards to what he see’s as poor conduct on Net Neutrality, and is the center of a movement of his own. His Facebook Group, Fair Copyright for Canada, boasts over 92,000 members! </li></ul>Photo-University of Ottawa
  6. 6. How does your ISP feel about Net Neutrality? The graph to the left shows the major Canadian ISP’s and their policies towards bandwidth usage. The closer to the top, the more absolute their policy. The lower, the more arbitrary. The chart upon which this data was based was compiled by bit-torrent enthusiasts at
  7. 7. The real question: who owns the internet, anyway? <ul><li>The CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) has the, technical power, but usually lets ISP’s do as they please in the spirit of non-interference. In fact, they have in the past declared their complete lack of desire to regulate the internet for Canadians. While this has promoted innovation, growth and a wealth of on-line content, it leaves our internet in a legal grey-zone. </li></ul><ul><li>In effect, this leads to Industry Canada taking up the responsibility. Since IC is run by the Minister of Industry, its priorities and direction change depending on the party holding power. This means most net neutrality legislation is divided along partisan lines. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Where’s the public debate? Although this is a crucial issue, many across both America and Canada are sorely under-informed as to what is at stake. The cartoon to the left illustrates this point and shows the multiple sides of the debate in a satirical fashion. Most of those pushing for Net Neutrality are young people, paying their own internet bills for the first time and accustomed to downloading and using streaming content sites like Youtube and Pandora, not their parents generation, which for a long time was the first and only group demographic group paying for internet access. Basically, if the people who pay the bills don’t care about Net Neutrality, it all starts to sound like whining from downloading pirates, on-line gamers and other such ‘nerds’. The public thinks that it won’t affect them, as their own internet use is marginal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
  9. 9. Pro-Net Neutrality Protest, Parliament Hill, April 2008 <ul><li>The image above summarizes the Net Neutrality issue: How much would internet users be willing to pay to navigate each site on the limitless internet? It would mean an end to freedom on the internet as we know it! </li></ul>Photo from flickr, author unknown
  10. 10. What can YOU do? <ul><li>Net Neutrality Action Sites: </li></ul><ul><li> News, discussion, and organizational information for Canadians. </li></ul><ul><li> More information on net neutrality, has an active legal fund and intends to take on ISP’s in court to defend Net Neutrality rights. </li></ul><ul><li> Commentary on internet law, copyright reform, and Net Neutrality from the e-guru at the University of Ottawa </li></ul><ul><li> :An in-depth, unbiased report on Net Neutrality from the CBC </li></ul><ul><li>Net Neutrality is the concern of everyone who uses the internet, not just downloaders or those considered “digital pirates”! If action is not taken, if more people don’t stop thinking of themselves as helpless consumers and start seeing the internet as an extension of our own physical world, one that needs the same laws and social control we impose on ourselves through the legal system...the corporations that control access to the ‘net will make it their own fiefdom, one that we have to pay to get into and then play by their rules, lest we be cast out. Know the issue, know your politicians positions, and raise your voice! </li></ul>C. 2008, Tanya Devereaux