Canadian ISPs Plan Net Censorship
Concerns grow that Canada's plan will wipeout alt news sites and spread to U.S.
By Mike Finch
A net-neutrality activist group has
uncovered plans for the demise of the free Internet by 2010 in Canada.
By 2012, the group says, the trend will be global.
and TELUS, Canada’s
two largest Internet service providers (ISPs), will begin charging per-site
fees on most Internet sites, reports anonymous sources within TELUS.
“It's beyond censorship, it is killing
the biggest ecosystem of free expression and freedom of speech that has ever
existed,” I Power spokesperson Reese Leysen said. I Power was the first group
to report on the possible changes.
Bell Canada has not returned calls or
The plans made by the
large telecom businesses would change the Internet into a cable-like system,
where customers sign up for specific web sites, and must pay to see each
individual site beyond a certain point. Subscription browsing would be limited,
extra fees would be applied to access out-of-network sites. Many sites would be
“We had inside sources
from bigger companies who gave us the information on how exclusivity deals are
being made at this moment between ISPs and big content providers (like TV
production studios and major video game publishers) to decide which web sites
will be in the ‘standard package’ offered to their customers, leaving all the
rest of the Internet unreachable unless you pay extra subscription fees per
every ‘non-standard’ site you visit,” Leysen said. “We knew the source to be
100% reliable, but we also knew the story would be highly controversial if we
released the information. We did it because we knew that we’d get more official
confirmations once we’d come forward with it. And indeed that is what happened.
Dylan Pattyn, who is writing the soon-to-be published article for Time
Magazine, received confirmation from sources within Bell
and TELUS after we released the information.”
The plans would in effect
be economic censorship, with only the top 100 to 200 sites making the cut in
the initial subscription package. Such plans would likely favor major news
outlets and suppress smaller news outlets, as the major news outlets would be free
(with subscription), and alternative news outlets, like AFP, would incur a fee
for every visit.
“The Internet will become
a playground for billion-dollar content providers just like television is,”
said Leysen. “It won’t be possible for a few teenagers in their parents’
basement to start a small site like E-bay that then grows out to be the next
big thing anymore. Right now the Internet belongs to those with the greatest
ideas. In the future, it’ll belong to those with the biggest budgets.”
With plans in Canada uncovered, I Power thinks that companies
in the United States
and other nations are also planning similar actions.
“By 2012 ISPs all over the
globe will reduce Internet access to a TV-like subscription model, only
offering access to a small standard amount of commercial sites and require
extra fees for every other site you visit. These ‘other’ sites would then lose
all their exposure and eventually shut down, resulting in what could be seen as
the end of the Internet,” Leysen said.
Such a subscription plan
could possibly restrict free speech far beyond even the current restrictions
set by the governments of communist China. Not only would browsing be
limited, but privacy would be invaded, as every web site viewed would likely be
recorded on a bill in a manner similar to a phone bill.
Why would the ISPs
institute such a plan? One word: money.
“This new subscription model is
commercially far more beneficial to them than how it is now,” Leysen said. “If
Fox wants to launch a new television show online, they’ll have to pay big money
to all major ISPs to ensure that their new show will be offered and pushed in
the ‘standard package’ of sites/services/channels that people will get through their
Internet access. Plus ISPs will also gain extra revenue out of people trying to
access the rest of the Internet, as they’ll pay extra subscription fees for
every web site they visit.”
But it’s not just the big
ISPs that stand to gain.
“Marketing and big budget
‘content-pushing’ just doesn’t seem to work on the Internet, and this is
something that several industries want fixed. ISPs know this and will benefit
greatly by fixing this for the marketing and entertainment industry,” Leysen
The ISPs are said to be
confident they can institute such plans through deceptive marketing and fear
“The Internet will be more and more
marketed as a place full of child pornography and other horrible illegal
activity in order to get people on their [the ISP’s] side once they start
restricting it and make it ‘safer,’”
Leysen said. “Unless we really make a stand for this and make sure that
mainstream media thoroughly covers the issue, the whole thing will be eased in
with proper marketing to make sure that most mainstream customers won’t make a
big deal out of it. They will only realize what was lost long after it’s gone.”
For more information about this story see http://ipower.ning.com
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