Why Canadians should care about Net Neutrality

Sep 9, 2014 | Biz/Tech

By Vick Karunakaran

Tollbooths controlling the Internet traffic may no longer be as crazy as it sounds.

Canadian gamers and anyone watching video streaming over the Internet should care about the high-stakes battle over the net taking place across the border.

Tomorrow, many companies will display the symbolic “loading” icon to show users what can happen if the fight to keep Internet neutral is lost.

“If Net Neutrality is lost in the U.S., it could have a direct impact on Canadians,” said David Christopher, Communications Manager for OpenMedia.

Despite its boring moniker, Net Neutrality is a term used as the fight against Internet Service Providers trying to control Internet speeds for commercial reasons. The basic idea behind the protest is that any data travelling over an ISP’s network should be treated equally.

Now some big names like Cisco, IBM, Intel and Netflix have joined organisations and people concerned about Network Neutrality.

The Battle for the net is one more in the series of fights between the big guys and the little guys as they take a stand on what freedom means on the Internet.

If Net Neutrality is removed, ordinary users can expect slower speeds if the websites they visit cannot afford to pay ISPs for clearing the roadblocks.

Some have described the world without an open Internet or Net Neutrality as creating a medium of haves and have-nots.

Critics say it allows ISPs to create roadblocks on an existing highway for regular users while allowing businesses through by paying a toll.

Photo: David Christopher

Canadians should be concerned about the FCC ruling on Net Neutrality, according to David Christopher from OpenMedia. Photo courtesy: David Christopher

While the U.S. ruling may not affect Canadian businesses, critics fear it may encourage Canadian ISPs to reopen the idea of controlling the Internet traffic in a similar way.

“So much of our Internet traffic flows in and out of U.S.,” he said. “…Even if you are a Canadian sending an email to the other side of Canada,” said Christopher.

OpenMedia, a Canadian Internet freedom group is a community-based organisation that has launched a week long international campaign.

It is collaborating with more than 50 organizations from all over the world for a Week of Action campaign to show a united voice for net neutrality, said a Sept. 8 press release.

If FCC decides to do away with Net Neutrality, “it could set a very concerning precedent for other countries,” said Christopher.

Companies such as Netflix and Facebook could not have come into existence without the help of Net Neutrality, according to Christopher.

The fight for Net Neutrality has been an ongoing one for a while.

This is the last week for people to have an impact on the upcoming FCC ruling in the U.S., said Christopher.