As Canada protects its citizens anonymity online, all eyes are turning to the United States, where net neutrality guidelines could be facing a revamping in the next few months, according to Michael Geist at The Tyree.
Rich customers get fast-lane surfing?
The plan floated in the U.S. would allow ISP customers to pay for faster access to the Internet while the poorer, rank-and-file consumer would have to surf at a slower pace, said a U.S. Federal Communications Commission plan quoted by Geist. The FCC has come under fire from cable, Internet and broadband providers and consumers across the country have been very vocal about the plan. Canada's net neutrality laws wider in scope than the US bill, but observers warn the same measures could be coming here.
Definitions make a difference
The U.S. plan would not really be implemented, as is, in Canada because of two major differences in the respective legislation. State-side, the FCC has categorized the Internet as an information service on its own while in Canada the `Net is part of the Telecom Regulations Act , said Geist's article. Because of the wording of the proposed American legislation, legal constraints exist there that are not applicable in Canada. Also in Canada the choice of fast or slow Internet is not currently allowed under the existing legislation.
A recent Motherboard report said that the U.S. measure will have an impact in Canada and may, in fact, lead to Canadian legislation along similar lines. The Canadian government recently talked of its future digital strategy and any mention of net neutrality was suspiciously missing, leading the source to suggest the government has few, if any, intentions of keeping the net neutrality language in any future bills.
Motherboard quotes Net Tech Journalist Peter Nowark's concern about the precedent the US measure could set across Canada.
"Sure, we have net neutrality rules here in Canada but if you don't think our big ISPs are going to be emboldened now to circumvent them or try to re-open the conversation, well then you don't know them very well," Nowark asserted.
Big ISPs across the country have little or no incentive, said Motherboard to be competitive and smaller providers, like TekSavvy, are unable to challenge that because they purchase their access from the nation's top providers.
So, while Canadians watch to see if the US legislation passes, concern continues to grow that the Canadian Parliament will echo its legislative counterparts and bring two speeds of Internet access to Canada, further polarizing consumers already upset with slow and expensive Internet access and service.