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Net neutrality: What is it and should Canadians be concerned?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Last Thursday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality, the protections the Obama administration put in place on the Internet two years ago. For those that live in the United States, this decision would allow Internet service providers to block or throttle access to content and services, ending a long-time principle that all web traffic must be treated equally.

What does the repeal of net neutrality mean for Canadians? Unlike the United States, Canada has strong protections for net neutrality and support for the rules enjoy broad political support.  

“This [repealing net neutrality] will impact consumers, business and our democracy,” Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, told CBC’s The House.

photo of Professor Srinivasan Keshav“When individuals or companies need to get access to the Internet, have to pay more for that, or have gatekeepers, there’s going to be consequences for consumers in terms of the information they receive and how much they pay for that information. Right now, information is treated equally, that no longer will be the case going forward.”

However, not everyone thinks the FCC’s decision will be felt beyond America’s borders.

​“What the FCC does is only applicable to the United States,” said Srinivasan Keshav a professor at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, speaking to The House. “The Americans don’t own the Internet, and their rulings don’t affect the rest of the world.”

Listen to Chris Hall’s interview with Professor Keshav (mp3 file).