Dozens of Canadian organizations join forces to sound the alarm on website blocking proposal
February 27, 2018
February 27, 2018 – Tomorrow, February 28, marks a national Day of Action against website blocking in Canada. The day is being held in opposition to the FairPlay Canada proposal, spearheaded by Bell Canada, which asks the CRTC to create a new non-profit agency responsible for blocking content seem to be engaging in or facilitating piracy — without judicial oversight.
Website blocking is a direct violation of net neutrality. While the federal government has made its commitment to the open Internet clear, proposals like this one directly undercut one of the central principles of Net Neutrality: No site blocking.
Without judicial oversight, the FairPlay Canada proposal also opens the door for censorship in Canada. With the potential for shifting understanding of what content is to be blocked, and a lack of due process, legitimate websites not participating in any illegal activities will inevitably be caught up in this blocking mechanisms, placing a cumbersome burden on sites to prove their innocence after already being blocked — exactly the opposite of how we expect our judicial processes to function.
While this proposal is currently before the CRTC, the federal Copyright Act is up for review, situating this issue within a larger national discussion. Tomorrow’s Day of Action is the first step in many to come, demonstrating that Canadians value the strong copyright laws and net neutrality protections we have, and will not stand for corporate power grabs in attempts to control what Canadians can and cannot do online.
Opposition to the FairPlay Canada proposal has been widespread, with 32 companies and organizations participating in tomorrow’s Day of Action, over 6,200 submissions to the CRTC from members of the public, and more than 28,000 submissions from OpenMedia community members — as of Tuesday afternoon — that will be filed with OpenMedia’s intervention to the CRTC in advance of the March 29 deadline.
“Today, Canadians are standing up to a direct attack on the open Internet, freedom of information, and net neutrality. Introducing web blocking in Canada establishes a dangerous precedent, and a slippery slope. The federal government has already made its commitment to net neutrality clear, but Bell doesn’t seem to get the message. Canada does not want website blocking. What we want is the open Internet, and the ability to easily access great content online. Creators should absolutely be compensated for their work — but FairPlay Canada isn’t the solution. If we are serious about addressing piracy, what we need is innovation, not censorship.”
Katy Anderson, Digital Rights Advocate, OpenMedia
“It seems that three of Canada’s main vertically-integrated telecom giants, Bell, Rogers and Shaw have switched sides from just a few years ago, when they formed a Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright to staunchly oppose website blocking schemes and the aggressive copyright maximalist agenda that their Fairplay proposal embodies. Having since bulked up on their own media content services, they're now asking the CRTC to do what it has never done before: to turn the gateways to the internet into gatekeepers – all without explicit legislative foundations or court oversight. If only they would instead follow the lead of their international counterparts, like BT and TalkTalk in the UK, iiNet in Australia, Telekabel in Austria, Vodafone, Telefonica elsewhere, that have all fought tooth-and-nail against efforts to enrol them in website blocking and other heavy-handed copyright enforcement schemes.”
Dwayne Winseck, Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University
“In a society that recognises free expression as a human right, the solution to copyright infringement must not be a committee of censors. If a copyright holder believes a website contains illegal content, then a court is the right place to assess the allegations, and an independent judge is the right person to make an evidence-based decision about whether blocking it is a proportionate remedy.”
Brenda McPhail, Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Project, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
“The website blocking proposal has worrying implications for digital rights and the open internet, including the inevitability of false positives, the expansion of mandated website blocking to issues beyond intellectual property, and the absence of full due process. All of this would undermine the free expression rights of Canadians.”
Duncan Pike, Co-Director, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
"Blocking websites without a court order is taken straight from the playbook of the world's most repressive countries. It is a disproportionate measure for any sort of content censorship, but especially when it's merely to enforce copyright."
Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
"It's bad enough that the Bell coalition wants to block Canadians' access to Internet sites — but this application does much more, by asking the CRTC to block access to online services, applications, add-ons and devices. In brief, the coalition wants the CRTC to set limits on existing and new technology. Can the Internet survive corporate control over its content and its tools?"
Monica Auer, the Executive Director, Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC)
“What the establishment media doesn’t get is that audiences want better options for supporting content creators — like filmmakers, musicians, and artists. Innovative new platforms that allow people to pay creators for content are the answer to piracy, not censorship.”
Fiona Rayher, CEO & Co-founder, Hoovie
“We need a solution that doesn't create more problems than it solves.”
Rochelle Fairfield, Executive Director, Human Data Commons Foundation
"An attack on a free and open internet is an attack on our democracy. The over 15,000 people who signed the Leadnow petition to the CRTC opposing this Orwellian proposal are standing up for the rights of all Canadians."
Rachel Nelems, Spokesperson, Leadnow
“As someone who spends everyday building a platform for free expression and democratic engagement, it's disheartening to see this radical website blocking proposal in Canada. Innovation and democratic engagement is already hampered by a broken and expensive telecom market dominated by out-of-touch telecom conglomerates. Only the unhinged could put this website blocking plan forward and I hope the government both denies the proposal and begins to take action to break up Canada's arrogant telecom providers.”
Steve Anderson, Co-founder and Chief Strategist, New/Mode
“Barrier free access to the internet should be a fundamental right for Canadians in their pursuit of culture and life-long learning.”
Shelagh Paterson, Executive Director, Ontario Library Association (OLA)
"SumOfUs members are gravely concerned about a handful of corporations like Bell, Rogers and Telus having control over what websites Canadians view, and the end of net neutrality in Canada. This is why tens of thousands of our members have signed petitions, submitted public comments, and chipped in to fund billboards to call on the CRTC to end Bell's dangerous proposal once and for all.”
Amelia Meister, Campaign Consultant, SumOfUs.org
"This proposal for internet censorship affects online content creators in an alarmingly restrictive way. Without net neutrality, this form of expression will become stifled to the point of losing meaning and impactful effect."
Clara Sia, founder, @TwitchVancouver, Content Creator
Day of Action participants include:
OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.
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