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Shofar FTP Archive File: miscellany/censorship/canada/eff-canada.0695

From Tue Jun 20 08:47:55 PDT 1995
Article: 35217 of can.general
From: (David Jones)
Newsgroups: can.infohighway,alt.censorship,,,alt.society.civil-liberty,can.general,
Subject: EFC: Will Canadians need a license to drive Information Highway?
Date: 19 Jun 1995 12:20:44 -0400
Organization: McMaster University, Computational Vision Laboratory
Lines: 130
Distribution: inet
Message-ID: <3s484s$>
Xref: can.infohighway:4859 alt.censorship:36627 alt.society.civil-liberty:21352 can.general:35217

(For immediate release --- June 19, 1995)

   Will Canadians need a license to drive the Information Highway?

	- Can the CRTC muzzle your modem? -

Electronic Frontier Canada wants to see freedom of expression remain
protected on the Internet.

"You don't need a license to own a printing press;  you shouldn't need
a license to own a modem.  You don't need a license to hand out leaflets,
or get up on your soap box, ... and you shouldn't need a license to express
exactly the same ideas in cyberspace," says David Jones, president of
Electronic Frontier Canada, and professor of computer science at McMaster
University.  Electronic Frontier Canada is a non-profit organization
founded in January 1994 "to ensure that the principles embodied in the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are protected as new computing,
communications, and information technologies emerge". 

His statement was made in response to recent calls for the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to step
in and regulate controversial speech on the Internet.

According to the CRTC neither the Broadcasting Act nor the Telecommunications
Act give the CRTC any authority whatsoever to regulate either computer
bulletin board systems (BBS's) or Internet Service Providers (ISP's).
"There's even a section of the Broadcasting Act that specifically excludes
services that 'consist predominantly of alphanumeric text', like the
Internet," comments Ian Angus, a noted telecommunications analyst.

"Messages on the Internet are still largely in the form of printed text
that you read on your computer screen," says Jones.  "This kind of interface
invites thought and reflection.  Presentation of controversial ideas often
leads to a vigorous online debate," says Jones, "but this kind of public
discussion is protected under the Charter."

"There's a tremendous diversity of electronic voices in the world-wide
Internet community of more than 40 million.  What some groups are calling
for is, in effect, some kind of government editorial control over content,"
says Jeffrey Shallit, EFC vice-president, and professor of computer science
at the University of Waterloo.  "Just like people who burn books
that they've never read, I wonder if the people calling for Internet
regulation even have an email address," says Shallit.  "Unlike radio,
television, or newspapers, people on the Internet can easily reply
to the author or express their own views in the same forum," he says.

CRTC regulation of the Internet would also spell disaster for the dozens
of small Internet Service Providers across Canada says Matt Harrop,
president of Toronto-based Interlog Internet Services.  "We simply
don't have the resources to cope with the bureaucracy needed to deal
with the CRTC on licensing and regulatory issues, unlike the telephone
and cable giants.  It would put us out of business."

And eliminating small ISP's would "stifle the creativity and innovation
that have traditionally come from smaller entrepreneurial companies
who take risks and break new technological ground," says Harrop.

"It's also just unreasonable and impractical to expect us to snoop
on the electronic communications of our customers.  If anything,
instead of forcing us to control content, we should be granted
common-carrier status, so we can provide access to customers
without being held liable for what they say online."

"To many," says Jones, "surfing the world-wide-web is like browsing pages
in the world's largest library.  Government regulation could, in effect,
confine Canadians to the children's section."


- - - - -
Background Information available online:

Broadcasting Act

Telecommunications Act

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EFC Contact Information:

Electronic Frontier Canada
 Dr. David Jones        phone: (905) 525-9140 x24689	fax: (905) 546-9995
 Dr. Jeff Shallit       phone: (519) 888-4804		fax: (519) 885-1208
 Dr. Richard Rosenberg  phone: (604) 822-4142		fax: (604) 822-5485

Electronic Frontier Canada, online archives:

 Gopher:		gopher://
 Anonymous FTP:
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Other Contact Information:

Ian Angus
  President, Angus TeleManagement Group, Ajax, Ontario
  phone:  (905) 686-5050 x222

Matt Harrop
  President, Interlog Internet Services
  1235 Bay St, Suite 400, Toronto, Ontario  M5R 3K4
  phone:  (416) 975-0294
  fax:    (416) 969-8916

CRTC - Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
  phone:  (819) 997-0313

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