I’ve been gathering reactions to last week’s CRTC decisions on wholesale rates for Internet access. My takeaway is a lot of people are having trouble understanding what the hell it all means. So in this series of posts I’m going to provide some plain-language context.
Today, I’m covering broadband competition, and the unusual structure of Canada’s wholesale and retail Internet access market. In the next post, I’ll look at how the CRTC arrives at wholesale costs and what that will mean for your residential bill. Finally, I’m going to focus in the third post on the UBB controversy of two years ago and how that relates to the recent rulings.
A pig in a poke
Communications services play an increasingly important role in our lives. Yet the evidence is that awareness among consumers about what they’re getting when they buy broadband is stunningly low. Continue reading
(Updated Friday with some corrections and minor edits.)
Score another one for the public interest.
On Wednesday, Federal Court Prothonotary Mireille Tabib said yes to CIPPIC’s request to intervene in the Voltage “piracy” case. This order is very positive news in several respects.
(The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic describes its mission in part as working “to fill voids in public policy debates on technology law issues, ensure balance in policy and law-making processes, and provide legal assistance to under-represented organizations and individuals on matters involving the intersection of law and technology.”)
1 – Full intervenor status. The Federal Court has put no restraints on CIPPIC’s participation – meaning they will be allowed to cross-examine the plaintiff’s witnesses, a big tactical advantage. The one issue tabled for the hearing judge’s future consideration concerns possible cost awards to CIPPIC. The order sets out the following five conditions for CIPPIC’s participation:
- CIPPIC shall be permitted to produce affidavit evidence and to cross-examine the Plaintiff’s affiant.
- CIPPIC shall be permitted to make arguments on points of law.
- The rights of CIPPIC to seek or its liability to be made subject of any order for costs on the motion shall be determined by the Judge seized of the motion.
- CIPPIC shall be served with all materials filed and to be filed by other parties, non-party respondents and Interveners, if any.
- The schedule for proceeding on the Plaintiff’s motion pursuant to Rule 238 of the Federal Courts Rules shall be as set out in sub-paragraph 3 of the Order of January 18, 2013. Continue reading
A version of this post was published yesterday at Cartt.ca.
Piracy is a lot like religion and politics. It tends to polarize opinion and get in the way of finding common ground for thoughtful discussion. That’s the pattern we’ve seen in Voltage Pictures’ demand for information from TekSavvy about putative pirating of their movies. Clashes between the studio and the ISP have touched off a rancorous debate that has divided even like-minded members of the pro-Internet community.
The single issue that has most divided the pundits concerns whether or not TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault let down his customers and the public interest by not opposing the Voltage motion from the get-go. Most of the arguments share one principal concern: that opposing the Voltage motion would have been the most effective and maybe only way to protect customer privacy, as well as to ward off future suits of this kind.
A lot of ink has now been spilt on this point, especially in light of the fact that Marc and his lawyers arrived at their decision after considering factors that remain confidential. Nevertheless, some further comment seems to be in order.
Putting privacy in perspective
First of all, I’m no longer convinced that the biggest public interest issue in this case is privacy, a sentiment I know will not win much sympathy. For one thing, I believe Marc did his best to protect his customers’ privacy by giving everyone, especially those on the charge list, advance notice despite it not being a legal requirement. TekSavvy has also spent a great deal of time and money weeding out numeric IPs that didn’t match an account, in an attempt to protect otherwise innocent customers. Continue reading
For anyone who hasn’t had time to read through my lengthy Friday post, our rich-media associate Devin has recorded an easy-listening audio version, which is available at the press of a button right here…
Score another win for TekSavvy – and its customers. Especially its customers.
After weeks of getting bashed in the blogosphere, TekSavvy emerged from the hearing today in the Federal Court with a big bright check-mark against the privacy problem, CIPPIC’s involvement, the mapping of IPs against human beings, and the what-have-you-done-for-us-lately problem. Continue reading
Who knew being an indie ISP could be so tough?
Previously on davidellis.ca…
One of the most striking things about this case concerns the complaints I’ve seen online about TekSavvy’s role. Probably the busiest place for this conversation is the forum on dslreports.com, which attracts a lot of hardcore geeks. On Saturday [Dec 15], Marc Gaudrault posted a lengthy comment headed “Why we are not opposing motion on Monday” [see Dec 17 post].
On Tuesday, December 18, the day after I posted some comments entitled Watching Voltage and TekSavvy duke it out in Federal Court, my analytics showed almost 1,500 uniques. That number almost doubled by the end of the week, while the bounce rate stayed well under 1%. Continue reading
Heading down to court Monday morning, I was concerned I might be late to get a seat for the Voltage hearing. I had my iPhone ready to record protestors and general ruckus. But Guy Fawkes was a no-show. I arrived to find the courtroom eerily quiet and half-empty.
What has TekSavvy been required to do for its customers up to now?
Short answer: absolutely nothing. As you read on, keep in mind this case is Voltage vs John Doe and Jane Doe – not vs TekSavvy. Continue reading
Mandatory mittens for men on casual Fridays has been shown to reduce sexual harrassment at Voltage*
Some updates and changes (Thursday, December 13)
Monday’s court hearing. Voltage has managed to schedule a hearing at the Federal Court for Monday, December 17, which leaves little time for targeted TekSavvy subscribers to organize their defence. TekSavvy couldn’t notify these customers until it had churned through a huge pile of logs, in order to correlate subscribers with the thousands of numeric IP addresses Voltage dumped on them. And it wasn’t until December 7 that TekSavvy was served with the final Notice of Motion, the document that compels TekSavvy to attend at court where, Voltage hopes, it will be ordered to turn over all relevant customer information so the bullying can proceed.
Many people I’ve talked to seem to have missed the crucial point that TekSavvy itself is not a defendant in this case as it is not liable for any putative infringing activity on its network. In Canada, when a customer requests a file from, say, The Pirate Bay, and the customer’s ISP simply provides the platform over which to have the file delivered, that ISP is deemed to be acting as a mere carrier. The ISP is not deemed to be a “user” nor considered to be “authorizing” the download. Hence TekSavvy is not a defendant in the Voltage claim. I raise this point simply so that interested parties, especially possible defendants, are clear on TekSavvy’s legal standing in this action. Continue reading
This is the 3rd instalment of my comments on the CRTC’s wireless code consultation.
In part 2, I strayed into some wireline data to make a larger point about shortcomings in the CRTC’s handling of two major duties: conducting research and communicating with the public. Today I want to add some followup on the issue of competition.
Tuesday marked the official end of the online portion of the public consultation. In the Toronto Star, that milestone warranted a piece from personal finance columnist Ellen Roseman, who talked with the Commission’s new consumer chief, Barbara Motzney. Continue reading