The Internet

Letter to Rahim Jaffer: Internet policy mentioned at Conservative policy convention

Mr Rahim Jaffer,

Like many Canadians I am watching the Conservative policy convention that brings together a diverse group of people trying to articulate an alternative vision. As a person highly involved in trying to articulate an alternative vision on technology policy from what we have seen over the past decade, I was happy to hear you mention the Internet in your speech.

Read full letter in forum.

Toronto Star: Say no to Big Brother plan for Internet

This article by Michael Geist includes:

Notwithstanding the Internet's remarkable potential, there are dark clouds on the horizon. There are some who see a very different Internet. Theirs is an Internet with ubiquitous surveillance featuring real-time capabilities to monitor online activities. It is an Internet that views third party applications such as Vonage's Voice-over-IP service as parasitic. It is an Internet in which virtually all content should come at a price, even when that content has been made freely available. It is an Internet that would seek to cut off subscriber access based on mere allegations of wrongdoing, without due process or oversight from a judge or jury.

This disturbing vision of the Internet is not fantasy. It is based on real policy proposals being considered by the Canadian government today.

Vonage's Citron Says VoIP Blocking Is 'Censorship'

When we allow network intermediaries to break the End-to-end principle that is the core of the Internet, and allow them to filter packets, we head down a dangerous path.

An article by Paul Kapustka includes one such possibility.

CEO of leading VoIP provider says port blocking of VoIP traffic is one potential small step toward an unwanted future of IP-based censorship.

Mac Enterprise editor asks: Is Apple Worth It?

Executive Editor (Mac Enterprise) Matthew Rothenberg weighs in on the Apple- vs.-Mac-sites case. He says Apple should be ashamed.

I frankly hate the spectacle of a company that has made its fortune promulgating a post-hippie image of individual expression riding the crest of what Dan Gillmor refers to as "the gathering storms" threatening free speech.

I agree.

Toronto Star: Say no to Big Brother plan for Internet

Michael Geist's latest Law Bytes column highlights several potential Canadian policies that may create a very different Internet. They include ubiquitous network surveillance through the lawful access initiative, ISPs that engage in packet preferencing as in the two cases last week involving Vonage and Telkom Kenya, a new “extended license” that would require schools to pay millions of dollars for content that is currently freely available on the Internet, and rules that make it far easier to remove an allegedly infringing song than to remove dangerous child pornography. It concludes by riffing on an old Nortel ad campaign by asking whether this is really what we want the Internet to be?

Grokster case: seventeen computer science professors file brief

On March 1 seventeen computer science professors filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Grokster case. It goes into some of the technical issues around the Internet, including the underlying end-to-end design of the Internet which makes peer-to-peer communication the norm, and client-server a temporary anomaly due to historical bandwidth constraints.

A document we need to see filed is a more lawyer-friendly version of the Microsoft Research DRM talk by Cory Doctorow which explains how cryptography can never be successfully used to protect copyright. Once it is understood that technology cannot achieve a specific goal, the legal community may discontinue trying to give legal protection for concepts that don't make sense.

Having legal protection for DRM makes about as much sense as having legal protection for the concept of a flat-earth: making any discussion of or use of the fact the world is round-ish illegal.

Grokster case: What is at stake is the future of technology innovation...

An important US Supreme Court case to be watching and understanding is MGM v. Grokster. Like many other cases it is not what it seems at first glance, which is MGM claiming it is suing to stop Grokster from supplying technology used to distribute unauthorized works. What is really at stake is whether those who make technology which is under the control of the citizen, and has both infringing and non-infringing uses, should be held partly liable for the activities of the citizen. This question was asked with the VCR and it was rightly decided that private citizens should be held liable for their own actions, and modern technology was allowed to exist.

Imagine a world without the VCR and any derivative devices such as the camcorder. Imagine a world with no new consumer/citizen controlled electronics being deployed since 1984 when The Betamax Case was decided. If you can imagine that world, you can imagine the world that MGM is asking for.

Participating in Crossing The Line: A Citizens' Inquiry on Canada-U.S. Relations.

I will be participating in the Council of Canadians event: Crossing The Line: A Citizens' Inquiry on Canada-U.S. Relations. The topic in Ottawa on Tuesday February 8 is Media and Culture. A schedule of events and a link to my submission were posted to the forum.

A PDF of my submission was made available from their Discussion Papers page.

Invitation to join a National Round Table Discussion on Broadband

On Wednesday January 26th 2005, Canada Connects moderated a National Round Table Discussion on how broadband technologies could be used for the competitive advantage of Canada and Canadian's.

We are inviting you to participate in a much larger debate that will provide all Canadians with an opportunity to take part in the exploration of how our businesses, institutions, communities, citizens and country can adapt to the new opportunities provided by Internet connectivity.

To register for the National Vision announcement list, or to find out how you can be heard in this national debate please visit:

The beginning of the end for the Recording Industry (*RIA*)

As one of his 15 predictions for 2004, Robert X. Cringely wrote:

4) The Recording Industries Association of America will continue to sue customers while their business slowly dissolves. The big threat here isn't file swapping, but affiliate programs like Apple's iTunes Affiliate Program that I am sure will be shortly copied by all the online music stores. These affiliate programs turn bloggers into shills and blogs into record stores, with the result that record company's last source of power -- marketing clout -- is taken away. This will take time, but it is the beginning of the end for old-style record companies.

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