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Much ado about nothing at the CRTC

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The Internet does many things. It acts as a vast conduit for ideas and creativity. It connects far-flung corners of the world in ways never thought possible. It brings us cats with odd captions. And, it is the greatest porn distribution network in the history of mankind.

We can add a fifth item to this list of wonders: it is also a land of mighty over-reaction.

I'm monitoring Twitter for reaction to the CRTC hearings on Internet regulation, and people are furious. How dare the CRTC even consider laying one filthy, regulatory finger on the Internet? And while I'm no fan of the CRTC, and a huge fan of Net Neutrality, I can't help but think this is all a bit past the point.

Look, all the CRTC is suggesting is that it create a fund to help Canadian producers generate online content. It would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $100 million, funded through a surcharge on Internet users. This would translate into about $23 a year per connected household (and since this number is based on 2004 Statcan data, the final charge would probably be lower now). We can debate whether this kind of provision is effective, or if users should be asked to support CanCon with their own dollars. But we should not construe this as an attack on the Internet.

The current hysterics are likely related to a presentation made yesterday by representatives of Canadian content producers. In it, they made the rather ridiculous suggestion that Canadian ISPs should be subject to the same CanCon rules as other broadcasters, in effect requiring the entire, sprawling Internet to contain a certain percentage of Canadian programming. This is clearly unenforceable, and a terrible idea. I really doubt the CRTC is seriously considering this provision. Indeed, it hasn't been mentioned by the regulator anywhere, least of all during the current hearings.

So please, everyone just relax. Beloved Internet is not being vivisected before our misty eyes. Let's wait until we hear what the CRTC has to say before wigging out.

Crossposted with Nuncscio.com.

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