If you’re reading this, you have just until Monday February 23 (extended from Feb. 17) to offer your opinion to the CRTC as to how you want the best characteristics of new media (the Internet) to be protected. Before you issue your opinion, however, you might want to review the CRTC’s Internet Traffic Management terms of reference , visit the numerous resources of Save Our Net, and consider the following.
Despite what you read in superficial mainstream media criticisms and editorials, the Internet (New Media) is already being “regulated” in favor of large private business interests at the potential (and increasingly real) expense of the public interest. Organizations like ICANN and WIPO, and mega-media ISP corporations like Bell, Telus, Rogers, Shaw and Verizon are already compromising net neutrality by throttling our broadband ability to access and visit our free choice of content and Web sites. If the CRTC continues to refuse to fill this regulatory vacuum in favor of the public interest by not enshrining in law policy the principle of net neutrality, they will simultaneously be undermining citizen communication rights, consumer choice, and the democratic potential of the Internet and society itself. So let the CRTC know (click on #pt 2008-19-2 at bottom of page) that you want them to represent citizens and consumers by establishing Net Neutrality as a rock solid principle and policy that cannot be undermined by any telecommunication company providing Internet access.
There are many other very important issues currently being discussed on new media, and ultimately decided upon, as the CRTC’s New Media Broadcasting terms of reference detail (deadline for commenting on this review is March 27, 2008, click on #2088-1-1 at top of page) . Another key issue being discussed, as more and more Canadian content migrates from radio and television to the Internet, is to what degree should Canadian cultural creations be assisted in having a solid and lasting place in new media.
But, by far, the most critical issue that is at stake at this moment is for the CRTC to make net neutrality not only a cornerstone principle and policy of new media, but make it a fundamental condition of doing business for those companies providing Canadians with Internet service. If telecommunications and media companies don’t practice authentic net neutrality (this means not “throttling” or “traffic-shaping” or any new neutrality compromising tactic) then the CRTC should not allow them to do business.
This net neutrality issue, more than anything else, is what will determine how, and how democratically, we will communicate in our 21st Century. Give your opinion now (click on #pt 2008-19-2 at bottom of page), or don’t be surprised when you (or your child’s) ability to issue your opinion is compromised in the future.
Dr. Paul Boin ([email protected]) is an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Windsor, founder of the Media Justice Project and a member of the Campaign for Democratic Media. His forthcoming book “Media for the Public Mind: Creating a Democratic and Informative News Media” will be published by Fernwood Publishing in the Fall of 2009.