Canadian ISPs Plan Net Censorship
Concerns grow that Canada's
plan will wipeout alt news sites and
spread to U.S.
By Mike Finch
A net-neutrality activist group has uncovered plans for the demise
of the free Internet by 2010 in Canada. By 2012, the group says, the
trend will be global.
Bell Canada and TELUS, Canada's two largest
providers (ISPs), will begin charging per-site fees on most
sites, reports anonymous sources within TELUS.
censorship, it is killing the biggest ecosystem of free
freedom of speech that has ever existed," I Power
spokesperson Reese Leysen
said. I Power was the first group to
report on the possible changes.
Bell Canada has not returned calls or emails.
The plans made by
the large telecom businesses would change the
Internet into a cable-like
system, where customers sign up for
specific web sites, and must pay to see
each individual site beyond
a certain point. Subscription browsing would be
limited, extra fees
would be applied to access out-of-network sites. Many
sites would be
"We had inside sources from
bigger companies who gave us the
information on how exclusivity deals are
being made at this moment
between ISPs and big content providers (like TV
and major video game publishers) to decide which web
sites will be
in the `standard package' offered to their customers, leaving
the rest of the Internet unreachable unless you pay extra
subscription fees per every `non-standard' site you visit," Leysen
"We knew the source to be 100% reliable, but we also knew the
story would be
highly controversial if we released the information.
We did it because we
knew that we'd get more official confirmations
once we'd come forward with
it. And indeed that is what happened.
Dylan Pattyn, who is writing the
soon-to-be published article for
Time Magazine, received confirmation from
sources within Bell Canada
and TELUS after we released the
The plans would in effect be economic censorship,
with only the top
100 to 200 sites making the cut in the initial
Such plans would likely favor major news outlets and
smaller news outlets, as the major news outlets would be free (with
subscription)subscription)<WBR>, and alternative news
outlets, like AF
fee for every visit.
"The Internet will become a
playground for billion-dollar content
providers just like television is,"
said Leysen. "It won't be
possible for a few teenagers in their parents'
basement to start a
small site like E-bay that then grows out to be the next
anymore. Right now the Internet belongs to those with the greatest
ideas. In the future, it'll belong to those with the biggest
With plans in Canada uncovered, I Power thinks that companies in the
United States and other nations are also planning similar actions.
"By 2012 ISPs all over the globe will reduce Internet access to a
like subscription model, only offering access to a small standard
amount of commercial sites and require extra fees for every other
you visit. These `other' sites would then lose all their
eventually shut down, resulting in what could be seen
as the end of the
Internet," Leysen said.
Such a subscription plan could possibly restrict
free speech far
beyond even the current restrictions set by the governments
communist China. Not only would browsing be limited, but privacy
would be invaded, as every web site viewed would likely be recorded
bill in a manner similar to a phone bill.
Why would the ISPs institute
such a plan? One word: money.
"This new subscription model is
commercially far more beneficial to
them than how it is now," Leysen said.
"If Fox wants to launch a new
television show online, they'll have to pay
big money to all major
ISPs to ensure that their new show will be offered
and pushed in
the `standard package' of sites/services/the `standard
package' of si
get through their Internet access. Plus ISPs will also gain
revenue out of people trying to access the rest of the Internet, as
they'll pay extra subscription fees for every web site they visit."
But it's not just the big ISPs that stand to gain.
and big budget `content-pushing' just doesn't seem to
work on the Internet,
and this is something that several industries
want fixed. ISPs know this and
will benefit greatly by fixing this
for the marketing and entertainment
industry," Leysen said.
The ISPs are said to be confident they can
institute such plans
through deceptive marketing and fear tactics.
"The Internet will be more and more marketed as a place full of
child pornography and other horrible illegal activity in order to
people on their [the ISP's] side once they start restricting it
and make it
`safer,'" Leysen said. "Unless we really make a stand
for this and make sure
that mainstream media thoroughly covers the
issue, the whole thing will be
eased in with proper marketing to
make sure that most mainstream customers
won't make a big deal out
of it. They will only realize what was lost long
after it's gone."