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Strengthening the Internet 21 February 2020

Canada’s Innovative Future Relies on Upholding Core Properties of the Capital ‘I’ Internet

Katie Jordan
By Katie JordanFormer Director, Public Policy and Technology

As Canada considers how to renew its broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory regime, it should steer clear of recent recommendations that would impact key Internet properties that foster Canadian innovation online.

On Jan. 29 the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review (BTLR) panel handed the Canadian government 97 recommendations to consider as it prepares new legislation to update the decades-old Telecommunications Act, Radiocommunication Act and Broadcasting Act.

While it has laudable advice on how to improve access to rural and remote Indigenous communities in Canada, the report’s major flaws would inhibit the same Canadian innovation the recommendations intend to promote.

This includes giving Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the authority to treat the Internet like a broadcasting network, and setting unrealistic rules that would harm crucial elements of the Internet in the name of promoting Canadian content online.

There are many reasons you can’t treat the Internet like a traditional broadcaster, but the key one is this: the Internet is not like other technologies.

While it is essentially just an interconnected network of networks – hence the name: Inter-net – the Internet was built with a unique set of properties that were critical to its success to date: openness, decentralization, and permissionless innovation.

We believe these are three of the properties essential to the Internet way of networking that has seen a military and research communications network rapidly evolve into a tool ubiquitous within our day to day lives.

If implemented, the BTLR recommendations would not only threaten core elements of what the Internet Society considers the capital “I” Internet. They would have significant implications for net neutrality, intermediary liability, privacy, and security online.

Read more about how Canada’s Broadcast and Telecommunications Review panel’s recommendations threaten the Internet way of networking, and how policymakers can take actions to protect innovation online.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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