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Breaking: Independent ISP Distributel Stands Up Against Copyright Troll Seeking Private Info of Canadians

Since the recent passage of the government's problematic Internet lockdown bill C-11, old media conglomerates have been dreaming up ways to put it to use in their quest to protect out-dated business models. This is very reminiscent of Canada's big telecom companies who tried to impose a pay-meter on the Internet use of all Canadians in an effort to prevent us from cutting our TV subscriptions in favour of online video. In this case these old media bureaucracies are trying to get Internet service providers to pass along the private online information of Canadians they accuse of violating copyright rules. What a good way to scare us away from using the Internet as source of content. The media conglomerates appear to be targeting independent Internet service providers. First it was Teksavvy who took some measures to push back against media company Voltage. You can see my posts on that case here and here. Now it's Distributel, an independent internet service provider, who is being asked by NGN Prima Productions to turn over our online information.

NGN Prima, and co-plaintiff Riding Films Inc., said in mid-January that they want Distributel and two other ISPs to reveal the identities of the ISPs' customers who purportedly infringed the film companies' copyrights. If that motion is successful, Distributel and the others will be compelled to reveal the customers' names and addresses.

Distributel is thankfully formally opposing the motion seeking the disclosure of subscriber information.

Distributel has suggested that the media conglomerates are targeting the customers of smaller ISPs. This is the second time Distributel customer identities have been sought in addition to the Teksavvy case mentioned above. Teksavvy is seeking costs of $190,000 for the process they been force to take part in so far, and there's much more to go.

Canada's big telecom giants appear to getting a free ride for the time being. Maybe that's because they have common cause with the media companies (most of Canada's big telecom giants have their own content assets) in their view of the Internet ecosystem as a threat to their legacy businesses in TV, radio and content in general.

As I've said before, if Bill C-11 was meant to discourage these attacks on citizens, as was claimed by MPs behind the bill, then the government should clearly articulate what a content company can and cannot do in this regard. Since Canada is one of the few countries that adds a monetary penalty for non-commercial infringement, then why not just remove that part of C-11 entirely? Should we really give giant media conglomerates an extra financial incentive to seek our private information?

These activities cost us in privacy and they add new costs to our Internet services. These costs will grow substantially if Canada doesn't oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership's (TPP) new Internet restrictions during negotiations (Canada is bound by the outcome of the TPP agreement).

Distributel is on the front lines of this issue at the moment and they've shown they'll stand up for Canadians when push comes to shove. Anyone who's using one of the big telecom companies for Internet access should switch to Distributel or another independent provider. If not for the cost savings, then for your own right to privacy.

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