Big Telecom Customers’ Complaints Go Ignored by the CRTC
Access to Information Request Reveals Extreme Lack of Enforcement of Internet Openness Rules
July 8, 2011 – An Access to Information request made by Michael Geist reveals that nearly all Big Telecom companies have been the target of Internet openness complaints -- users have suspected them of unfairly speeding up, slowing down, or blocking online content or applications -- but there have been few, if any, consequences.
“In fact,” writes Geist, “the CRTC has frequently dismissed complaints as being outside of the scope of the policy, lacking in evidence, or sided with Internet provider practices.”
Nearly half of the complaints target Rogers Communications; OpenMedia.ca reported on one of the cases, dubbed “Gamers vs. Rogers”, in which the telecom giant was suspected of throttling the online game World of Warcraft. But Geist’s report demonstrates that this was only the tip of the iceberg.
This information reinforces the arguments made in Casting An Open Net, OpenMedia.ca’s keystone report, which puts forward recommendations for Canada’s digital policy and makes an indisputable case against closed, costly communications. The ineffectiveness of the CRTC’s enforcement mechanism (if there can be said to be one) reaffirms the need for the CRTC to conduct regular audits of Internet Service Providers in order to prevent discriminatory online traffic-shaping practices. Currently, the onus falls solely on the consumer to report traffic-shaping, yet they have no access to data from the ISPs about their traffic management practices.
“Relying on big telecom companies with narrow commercial interests to self-report their unjust Internet throttling activities is not an effective safeguard of Internet openness,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson.
“The right approach to the governance of the Internet -- recently declared a human right by the UN -- is one that ensures its integrity through appropriate oversight and measures for accountability, not one that relies on the goodwill of big telecom companies that have consistently shown their contempt for the open Internet.”
To date, over 18,000 people have sent Casting An Open Net to their Member of Parliament, and OpenMedia.ca has met with MPs from all parties to discuss its recommendations.
Big Telecom is also coming under fire for their out-of-control Internet prices and market control. This Monday will mark the beginning of a two-week-long CRTC hearing on usage-based billing (Internet metering), which resulted from citizen outcry against Big Telecom price gouging.
Anderson adds: “Canadians have spoken out in the hundreds of thousands - saying they want an open and affordable Internet. It's time for action.”
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
OpenMedia.ca is a national, non-partisan, non-profit public engagement organization working to advance and support an open and innovative communications system in Canada. Our primary goal is to increase public awareness and informed participation in Canadian media, cultural, information, and telecommunications policy formation.
OpenMedia.ca is best known for coordinating the Stop The Meter campaign earlier this year. The Stop The Meter campaign is widely considered as the biggest online citizens’ campaign in Canadian history, involving nearly half-a-million Canadians.