Here's the full depth of the problem with CASL. When Parliament enacted this confusing and ambiguous legislation, it relinquished its legislative power to those regulators charged with enforcing the law. And since those same regulators have the power to directly levy enormous penalties, CASL permits bureaucrats to play the roles of legislator, police, and judge simultaneously. This combination has no place in a free and democratic society like our own.
Over the last year, we've seen the CRTC publish customer-friendly new rules for wireless, set up a special task force to investigate extortionate roaming fees, and start a conversation with Canadians about the Future of Television (and watching TV content online!) Things are starting to change.
Political speech is seemingly under attack from the last place we might expect: Canadian media broadcasters, that say parties can't use broadcasters' content in ads. Protecting copyright is not an illegitimate purpose, but this approach is less than ideal for political advertisements. Political parties rely on election advertising to persuade the electorate to vote for them. This political expression is a significantly important aspect of public discourse and should be accorded the highest priority and protection.
The National Post ran a commentary saying CBC seemed incapable of reinventing itself, which may be true, and concluded that it didn't matter since TV viewing was in decline and the television industry, that is, networks, cable, etc. wouldn't exist in its present form in "maybe two years." This blissfully ignores the fact that TV viewing and cable/satellite subscriptions have shown no decline.
To help ensure that Internet users' voices are heard, your team at OpenMedia.ca have put together a question-by-question readers' guide to the CRTC's Choicebook survey. We hope you find it useful, and encourage you to take a few moments to prevent the CRTC from going in the wrong direction.
One night not long ago I was about to take in my daily dose of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart after work, when I was forced to deal with a new popup window on the CTV website -- CTV and other Bell Media websites are the only legal websites you can use to watch this and many other shows. But a popup appeared...
Will the government cave under this pressure? We're hoping they won't -- after all, they've made a clear promise to Canadians to lower prices, a promise underlined personally by Prime Minister Harper at his party's convention last fall. We intend to hold the government to its promises. But already there are worrying signs, with Industry Minister Moore seemingly changing his tune.
It's no wonder that so many Canadians are speaking out about the state of our broken wireless market. We pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for often terrible cell phone service. Thankfully it looks like decision-makers are finally starting to take notice.
One of the things we at OpenMedia.ca have been calling for is for wireless companies like Ting to be able to reach Canadians just like indie ISPs like Distributel, Acanac, Start or Teksavvy, just to name a few, do for wired Internet. At the moment Canadians are blocked by the Big Three from using Ting, which I think is wrong.
As of yesterday, our hard-won new cell phone customer protection rules go into effect for all new cell phone contracts/sales. The new rules, which were announced by the CRTC (Canada's telecom policy-maker) in June, apply right across Canada, so cell phone users from coast to coast to coast will benefit. These new cell phone customer protection rules will not be enough to rein in Canada's Big Telecom giants, but this is a step in the right direction.
Because Canadians spoke out and demanded change we've forced decision-makers to sit up and take notice. All Canadians will benefit from the federal rules introduced in June, and residents of Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Nova Scotia can also now rely on strong provincial legislation to protect their customer rights.
Canada's wireless market has taken another step backwards. Yesterday, telecom giant Telus announced it has bought out Public Mobile, a small independent carrier with 280,000 customers in Quebec and Ontario. Our wireless market is already highly concentrated, with just three giant conglomerates controlling over 92 per cent of revenues.
Minister Moore has promised Canadians that he will fix our broken wireless market -- his own department's website promises "more choice." But "more choice" is the last thing that will happen if we let Big Telecom get special access to investment at the expense of Canadian startup providers.
The CRTC and the government should stop playing whack a mole and fully open up our networks by splitting them from Big Telecom control so Canadians can access all providers on an equal basis. We've seen again and again how Big Telecom will take any chance they can to mistreat and price-gouge Canadians, and it's time to make some common sense reforms.
We have just received word that the federal Court of Appeal has officially granted Big Telecom permission to take Canada to court over new customer-friendly rules laid out in June by the CRTC. This means that Canada's three Big Telecom giants will appear before one of our highest courts and attempt to overturn important parts of the CRTC's new rules for your cell phone service.
There "is merit to the arguments raised by Sun News," the CRTC conceded, namely the network's idea that Canadians need their news "to come from a variety of independent sources." As a result, the CRTC now plans to spend the fall debating a couple reforms that would fundamentally rejigger the rules governing how Canadian cable companies are permitted to sell and broadcast news channels in general. For a network that never stops bragging about wanting to "change Canadian television as we know it," that's not a bad legacy to leave -- even if it wasn't intentional.