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Canadian ISPs Debate Over Piracy Site Blocking

Written by Nitish Singh
Last updated September 27, 2021

In the fight against piracy, several Canadian telecoms teamed up with copyright holders to form the Fairplay coalition. Bell, Rogers, and other Canadian telecommunication companies are currently encouraging CRTC to implement a nation-wide piracy site blocking program.

They have proposed that an “Independent Piracy Review Agency” (IPRA) - which is yet to be established - will work together with CRTC to create a Canadian blocklist of piracy websites and that the Federal Court of Appeal would oversee all the activities. Currently, CRTC is asking for public input on the plan.

Supporting the program are the MPAA and the Premier League. Both of them had also applied for a court-ordered blockage in the UK. Then there is the Canadian ISP Shaw Communication, which has also voiced their support. Do note; Shaw is not a part of the Fairplay coalition. According to shaw, “New regulatory tools are needed to provide a comprehensive and coordinated response to combat piracy, and the Fairplay Proposal provides an expeditious, effective, and fair process.

On the other hand, there is the ITPA (Independent Telecommunications Providers Association), which spoke on behalf of several smaller ISPs in the country, “The ITPA would object to any regime that imposes costs without a cost recovery mechanism for service providers.

And so with Shaw and other copyright holders backing up the plan, and ITPA along with many other ISPs portraying a neutral role, TekSavvy - an independent ISP servicing 250,000 Canadian homes and businesses is of the opinion that the program if happens, will be “neither efficient nor effective.

TekSavvy claims that the site blocking program will result in a direct violation of the Common Carrier doctrine of the Telecommunications Act. Then the ISP goes on to recall past data which shows blocking individual websites is challenging as well as expensive and thus the site blocking program goes against the network neutrality principle that any regulation should be efficient and effective.

teksavvy against site blocking

Image Courtesy of Canadian ISP

Along with TekSavvy, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium is also against the Fairplay Proposal, and argues “CNOC is not convinced of the efficacy of FairPlay Canada’s proposal, and, in fact, believes that mandatory website blocking could be circumvented with such ease that expending any resources on it is unlikely to be productive, yet it would impose significant costs on ISPs.

Now, regardless of what decision the CRTC will uphold based on these arguments, it is evident that they won’t be able to please all ISPs.



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