A Notable Absence: Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca


Here's Lindsey with your update:

Parliament is back in session this week, and thanks to people like you that have participated in our StopSpying.ca campaign, the online spying bill C-30 is nowhere to be seen! Meanwhile, the CRTC has concluded its hearing on Bell's takeover of Astral, and the Competition Bureau has indicated it may step in. Both bodies are now faced with making a decision that could forever change Canada's media landscape. We'll keep you posted on important developments.

Thanks for watching and reading, 

- The OpenMedia.ca Team

Recent News

EFF: How the Trans-Pacific Partnership will affect Canadians

The many provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement include a copyright chapter that could severely impact everyday Internet use. Fines would be administered, content and entire websites would be removed and your private data could become compromised.

Read on for an interview with Professor Michael Geist that helps to address Canadian concerns on this controversial Internet Trap, and sign and share our petition at StopTheTrap.net.

Article by Carolina Rossini of Electronic Frontier Foundation

Canada had been lobbying to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and its efforts were seemingly paid off with an exclusive invite to the secretive nine-country trade agreement in June. There is no doubt that the TPP will affect many areas of the Canadian economy from agriculture to manufacturing, but the agreement would also regulate intellectual property rights and that could have big consequences for Internet users’ freedoms. Read more »


Who to vote for in the CIRA Internet Governance in Canada election

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), is a non-profit organization that managers the dot-ca registry and addresses the day-to-day challenges facing Canada's Internet.

Every year, CIRA holds elections and, just like electing a politician to represent your views about how the country should be run, you can elect the CIRA board to represent your views about how the country's Internet should be run.

This year’s elections are particularly important as the organization struggles with governance reform, with issues of DNS sovereignty and Canada’s role in the Internet, and with how to operate dot-ca domain. CIRA also has considerable resources that could be put more forcefully towards ensuring Canadians have open and affordable options for Internet access. Canada is falling behind other industrialized countries and it’s worth spending the time to vote for those who will best put CIRA to work for us. Read more »


Online Services are great for Canadians, but threaten Big Telecom

Big telecom companies are feeling the squeeze as online services are offering Canadians alternative, cheaper ways to communicate and get access to diverse media content. These include video services like YouTube, AppleTV, and Netflix, and Internet-based social messaging services. These services provide an easily customizable and far more affordable alternative to content services offered by Canada’s media conglomerates.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, “traditional telco operating models that were shaped in an era of government-owned monoliths are showing signs of severe strain”. The Group highlights a range of challenges that have been prompted by online services, which may be bad for Big Telecom’s aging business models, but are great for Canadians.

One of Big Telecom’s biggest challenges? People are saving money by using online messaging services rather than more traditional phone services. A study from market researcher Ovum shows that in the U.S., cell phone users saved $13.9 billion overall in text-messaging fees because of their' ability to access Internet-based social messaging services. Read more »


Online Spying Bill absent from government list of fall priorities

I spy with my little eye something that is missing from the government’s fall calendar. It’s something that’s been highly controversial, would become an invasive measure towards Internet surveillance, and would provide authorities with warrantless access to our private information. Out of guesses? It’s the hotly-contested Bill C-30, otherwise known as the online spying bill, that the government has so far omitted from their Parliamentary schedule.

This is a huge victory for those who signed the StopSpying.ca petition, spread the word about the bill using our educational resources, or called on MPs to take a stand against warrantless online spying. Your participation in Canada’s Internet freedom movement is clearly making a difference—the government had initially committed to pushing this invasive and costly online spying bill through the legislative process within the first 100 sitting days of Parliament last year. Read more »


VMedia: What Bell's takeover means for Canadians

The hearings on Bell's $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media has ended, but we need to make sure we keep speaking out as the CRTC makes its decision as to whether or not the deal will be approved.

Join our StopTheTakeover.ca campaign and let your voice be heard in telling our broadcast regulators that Bell's increasing vertical integration is bad for Canadians. Read more »


Inside the government's online spying task force

What’s 340 pages long and contains emails, meeting transcripts, and talking points? Proof that the government has been intently monitoring—and thus actively disregarding—the public outcry against warrantless online spying bill C-30 since day one.

(I realize that as a joke, this is weak. As a government practice, however, this is a joke.)

Internal documents and correspondence obtained by OpenMedia.ca and the StopSpying.ca Coalition suggest that the government has been well aware of the problem with their proposed online spying legislation, but has still failed to act in the public interest. Released under an Access to Information request, these documents paint a picture of government employees closely monitoring gatherings, shared correspondence, and news—including coverage of the StopSpying.ca campaign from long before the tabling of Bill C-30. Read more »


The Globe & Mail: Competition Bureau could step in to stop Bell's takeover

Canada's Competition Bureau is keeping a close eye on Bell's $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media, saying that it could strike down the deal even if it passes review by broadcast regulators. Of primary concern is Bell's increasing vertical integration, meaning that it owns both producers of content (networks) and the broadcast infrastructure to deliver it.

As the CRTC reviews its decision on Bell's takeover, the time to speak out is now. Sign our petition at StopTheTakeover.ca and let's continue to amplify our voices against this grab for power.

Article by Steve Ladurantaye for The Globe & Mail

The federal Competition Bureau is “increasingly concerned” that BCE Inc.’s $3.4-billion purchase of Astral Media Inc. would put too much power in the hands of one broadcaster, with the watchdog saying it could strike down the deal even if broadcast regulators allow it to proceed.

Competition Commissioner Melanie Aitken said her office paid close attention to the testimony last week as a parade of executives and individuals appeared before the country’s broadcast regulator at a hearing examining whether the deal would ultimately benefit Canadians.

She’s not convinced. While all of the bureau’s investigations are done behind closed doors, Ms. Aitken warned she has concerns that go beyond her standard duty to review every large transaction.

“We are watching closely,” said Ms. Aitken. “There have been a lot of complaints during the course of our review and we are increasingly concerned about vertical integration and its effect on competition.” Read more »


Huffington Post: Netflix exec says "Canadians have almost third-world access to the Internet"

Big telecom companies across Canada are continuing to employ 'usage-based billing', an punitive billing practice that restricts data allowances. Though many of you fought back against UBB via the Stop The Meter campaign—you prevented it from being imposed across the entire Internet service market—Big Telecom continues to use it to price-gouge Canadians.

Tell the CRTC that we want a full and comprehensive review of Big Telecom's Internet rates and hidden fees at PriceHike.ca. Together, we can put an end to this deceptive data pricing.

A recent study suggests that some 10 per cent of Canadians now use the streaming video service Netflix. But the company evidently believes it could be doing better — and providing a better service to Canadians — were it not for Canada’s internet service providers.

Article by Daniel Tencer for Huffington Post Canada

“It’s almost a human rights violation what they’re charging for internet access in Canada,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told a conference in Los Angeles last week, as quoted by GigaOM.

“The problem in Canada is … they have almost third-world access to the internet,” he added in an interview a day later.

At the heart of the matter for Netflix is "usage-based billing," or limiting the amount subscribers can download per month, a practice some Canadian ISPs put into place at roughly the same time that Netflix was preparing its move into the Canadian market. Some ISPs that already had caps lowered those limits in response to Netflix's arrival. Read more »


Georgia Straight: Competition Bureau slams Big Telecom for misleading Canadians about texting

We all know that telecom price-gouging is out of control in Canada. Big Telecom will do anything in its power to squeeze more from our wallets if they can get away with it – but this time, they've been caught.

Don't let Big Telecom get even bigger. Right now, the most important action you can take is to sign the petition to stop Bell's takeover (and share it!).

Article by Stephen Hui for the Georgia Straight:

Canada's Competition Bureau is suing Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Inc., Telus Corporation, and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association over what it calls "misleading advertising" promoting premium texting services.

In a news release today (September 14), the federal agency announced it has begun legal proceedings in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, seeking full customer refunds and penalties totalling $31 million. Read more »


CBC's Power and Politics covers the hearing on Bell's takeover

Bell's proposed power grab of Astral Media would mean fewer media and telecom choice, higher prices and less opportunity for free speech. With Bell's $3.4-Billion purchase currently under review, the time to speak out is now. Help in telling decision-makers that you oppose this expansion of Bell's power at http://StopTheTakeover.ca/. Read more »

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