interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘access’

Tell Vic Everything: Stop The ITU Internet Coup

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 2, 2012

ITU Logo a red lightning bolt on a globe Governments around the world are seeking to assume control of Internet Governance through the International Telegraph Union. Oh, wait, the organization changed its name to International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.) in attempt to deal with modern telecommunications issues.

An essential problem, however, is that the organization itself continues to function as it did in the 19th century. This is an antiquated hierarchical international association of countries. The ITU does not welcome, nor even listen to the concerns of citizens. It exists to paternalistically impose the policies it makes in secret, behind closed doors, on the world. This would have the effect of turning the Internet as we know it inside out. The Internet is Mine, and yours, and theirs. It doesn’t belong to governments, but to all users collectively.

An ITU Coup would strip us of our freedom to use the Internet as we wish, whether for recreation, community or business. We would be forced to follow Orwellian authoritarian edicts that would grant local governments unassailable unilateral power to control what is on the Internet. I might be prevented from selling my books, you from selling your songs, she from sharing recipes, while he might locked out of the Internet entirely. Citizens would have no recourse, our governments would just be following orders.

An organization like this is far less accountable than even our supposedly democratic First Past The Post electoral systems we presently struggle with in Canada, the US and the UK.  If this organization assumes authority over the Internet, it would absolve our local governments from any requirement to follow local laws regarding citizens rights.  It would make it so easy to grant Security Forces and Secret Police agencies the wherewithal to pracfrom the ITUtice warrantless surveillance and website takedowns, without any pesky requirement to convince Parliament or Congress that these draconian surveillance are needed.

Governments keep trying to make treaties like ACTA and TPP and laws like SOPA/PIPA.

Canadian Flag - Close up of Maple Leaf

In Canada, we’ve been protesting and pushing back against a majority FPTP government that wants to dispense with due process and allow unprecedented warrantless access into our digital lives without requiring the barest shred of evidence of wrongdoing. Yet Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews keeps trying.  I have no doubt Vic Toews would support an  ITU Internet takeover because it would support his agenda.

If ITU takes over, everything from privacy to free speech could be purged from the Internet.   If this comes to pass, we won’t be able to stop bad laws like SOPA or treaties like TPP or ACTA. Not a very happy thought.

We need to speak out against this now, so 2012 doesn’t become the new 1984.

The Internet Defense League has posted a video.   You can watch the video  below, but if you’re uncomfortble giving up so many javascript permissions you can just read the subtitles as a plain text version underneath.

Fight for the Future and Access collaborated on this short, informative video about a serious threat to the free and open internet that could have devastating effects for human rights and free expression around the globe.

How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.

“The Internet gives us the freedom, to talk with friends, make art, start a business or speak out against our governments, all on an unprecedented scale.

This isn’t a coincidence.

The Internet’s design came out of open inclusive discussions by a global community of scientists and engineers, So there was no pressure from above to lock it down.
But now a government controlled international body is making a play to become the new place where the Internet’s future gets decided. It’s called the International Telecommunication Union (or ITU). And in December the worlds governments will meet, to decide whether to expand its mandate to making important decisions about the net.

The ITU could pose a risk to freedom of expression on-line everywhere.
Here’s why. First the basics.

Nobody owns the Internet.

It’s a collection of independent networks around the world. Anybody can build one.
The common standards on which the Internet was build grew out of open on-line discussions,
not on the priorities of a particular government or company.

But now let’s meet the ITU!
First the ITU is old. Really old. Not CDs old, not rotary phone old, telegraph old, as in Morse code. When founded in 1865 it was called the International Telegraph Union. Unlike the Internet the ITU was not build on open discussion among scientists and engineers. Instead only governments have a vote at the ITU. And these votes take place behind closed doors.

If governments succeed in giving the ITU more power to make decisions about the Internet, we get
an old-school, top-down, government centric organisation replacing the open bottom-up governance
that made the Internet so world-changing. And that’s just the beginning of our problems.

The ITU is not transparent.

The ITU’s draft proposals aren’t public, and its “one country – one vote” model gives governments all the power.
They get to make decisions about our Internet, without us even knowing what they’re discussing, and then tell us, once the decision is made.  What kinds of decisions will be considered at the ITU meeting this December?
Well, here’s some actual proposals that have leaked:

  • cutting of Internet access for a number of broadly defined reasons;
  • violating international human rights norms;
  • giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent;
  • defining Spam so broadly that they could justify blocking anything from photos of cute cats to human rights campaigns.
  • And new rules to charge online content providers to reach users, which could mean less content going to the developing world, and blocking sites that don’t pay up.
  • But the really scary part: the countries pushing hardest for ITU control are the same countries that aggressively censor the Internet.

In Russia, making a YouTube video against the government can get you two years in jail.
In China you can’t even get to most social media websites.
And Iran is trying to build its own national Internet and email network, to keep the entire population under its control.

Now the ITU also does good work:
They help the developing world establish telecommunication networks and expand high speed broadband connections. And existing Internet governance isn’t perfect.  The US has out-sized influence and authority when it comes to this.
But we need to fix these problems in a way that preserves the openness, pragmatism and bottom-up governance, that made the Internet so great.

This December our governments meet to make their final decisions about the Internet’s future.
It’s up to us Internet users, in every country of the world, to tell them: to stand for the open Internet.
If everyone who sees this video speaks out and contacts their government, we’ve got a chance of winning.

Help us share this video and visit this site to speak out and contact your government right now!
Let’s use the Internet’s global reach to save it!
Tell your leaders to oppose handing over key decisions about the Internet to the ITU.”

— “How the ITU could put the internet behind closed doors.” English Subtitle Text  by Michelle Matthew.

Take action at

Internet cables connected to a router

…giving governments more power to monitor Internet traffic and impose regulations on how traffic is sent…

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Dear Mr Harper

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 11, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Dear Mr. Harper:

You were quoted as saying:

“The potential benefits of expanded broadband services are enormous, particularly for the thousands of Canadians who live in rural and remote communities,” said the Prime Minister. “The jobs of the future will increasingly depend on people in communities like Thetford Mines having consistent and reliable access to broadband services such as distance education, telehealth coverage and new online business opportunities. These are services that more and more Canadians rely on; they should also be services that all Canadians can count on.”

30 July 2009-Press release: PM announces major improvement to broadband internet access in rural Canada

I am writing to you today to ask,

“Will you stand behind your words?”

If you really believe what you said, how can you allow the CRTC’s approval of Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing to stand? Implementation of Usage Based Billing is diametrically opposed to those words.

The CRTC’s own website lists the overwhelmingly negative comments from Canadians at 2009-03-13 – # 8740-B2-200904989 – Bell Canada – TN 7181 – General Tariff – Gateway Access Service

Independent Internet Service providers asked the CRTC to deny the Bell Canada request for Usage Based Billing. Several thousand Canadian internet users (also known as Canadian Citizens) submitted comments to the CRTC website site asking the CRTC to deny Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing proposal.

In the face of this strong opposition from two sources, the CRTC went ahead and ruled that Bell Canada could in fact implement Usage Based Billing. The only reason they seem to have ignored their mandate in order to do this was because Bell Canada wanted them too.

“The CRTC’s mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public.”

CRTC Website



If the Usage Based Billing ruling is allowed to stand, it will severely compromise the ability of the Independent Service providers to compete, and so destroy all real competition in the Canadian Internet market. This decision will particularly damage the Independent ISPs since Bell Canada is continuing its practice of flagrantly ignoring the earlier CRTC ruling which directed Bell Canada to provide the Independent ISPs with equitable access.

Destruction of the independent service providers would certainly compromise any hope of “consistent and reliable access to broadband services” for Canadians.

This will not serve the Canadian public.

If the Usage Based Billing ruling is allowed to stand there will be an enormous problem in accurately measuring internet usage (I have read of accuracy variations divergant by as much as 800%). Industry Canada’s department of Weights and Measures doesn’t seem to be either prepared or equipped to deal with verifying and policing the accuracy of the measurement of “usage” necessary in usage based billing.

Making matters even worse, Bell Canada’s CRTC approved practice of “throttling” artificially inflates the “usage” figures. Throttling means that accurate measurement of usage will be virtually impossible. Most Canadian internet consumers like myself are not prepared to simply accept Bell Canada’s unsubstantiated word in determining what my usage is. In the absence of a fair and trustworthy means of auditing the measurement of Usage Based Billing by Weights and Measures Canada, I really don’t understand how Usage Based Billing can implemented at all.

This will not serve the Canadian public.

If the Usage Based Billing ruling is allowed to stand, it will harm Canada’s economy because it will change how Canadians use the internet. The insidious thing about Usage Based Billing is that the only way it will allow Canadians to keep our internet rates within our budgets will be for us to curtail our internet use.

  • Canadians will be in the unenviable position of paying the highest rates for internet service in the world. Certainly not because we’re getting better service, but because the CRTC has given Bell Canada permission to charge extortionate rates. This means that small businesses who count on online advertising revenue to pay for their websites may not get enough traffic to maintain their websites.
  • It means that many Canadian performers, artists and writers and film makers will not be able to afford to strenuously promote their arts and our culture, because suddenly it will cost too much. It means that many private Canadian citizens who have been making sure that Canada and Canadian achievements are adequately represented on wikipedia will no longer be able to do so once UBB makes it too expensive.
  • It means that many Canadian scientists and inventors will be limited in the use they can make of internet research because it will now be too expensive. Canada may never produce another Corel Draw, we may never create another Blackberry.
  • It means that families will have to consider how much to restrict our internet use so we can stay within our budgets. It means that some families will not be able to afford access to the internet at all. It means Canadian children will be at a disadvantage.

It is true that “The potential benefits of expanded broadband services are enormous” but the CRTC’s implementation of Usage Based Billing would restrict that potential, limiting or eliminating any benefits for Canadians, while citizens of the other countries will be free to realize that potential.

This will not serve the Canadian public.

Usage Based Billing will negatively impact on “The jobs of the future” as well as the jobs of today, here and now in the recession. Not only will Canadians not be able to rely on broadband access, many of us will not be able to count on access at all.
6670 signatures

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Why Usage Based Billing Won’t Bring Bell Canada the Profits they Expect

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 8, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Bell Canada applied to the CRTC for permission to implement Usage Based Billing.

Incredibly, the CRTC completely disregarded the wishes of the thousands of Canadians who told the CRTC they wanted the Bell Canada cash grab application to be denied.

Naturally, the Independent Internet Service Providers also asked the CRTC to deny the order which will at best seriously damage their ability to do business in Canada.

Bell Canada is not actually providing any new services to the Canadian internet users who will be hard hit by the additional fee being levied in exchange for… nothing.

Customers will be paying more for the very same service only because the agency that exists solely to regulate the telecommunications industry on behalf of Canadian citizens has completely ignored our wishes by granting Bell Canada’s request to unreasonably elevate out rates in exchange for… nothing.

If you believe that the CRTC should have done their mandated job and used their regulatory power to prevent Bell Canada from gouging Canadians rather than granting them the authority add additional costs to Canadian internet users in exchange for…. nothing… you may wish to express your disapproval of the CRTC by signing the online petition at

The saddest thing is that Bell Canada probably won’t even realize
the vast unearned profits they expect from Usage Based Billing.

Rich Canadians
The only Canadians who will be able to easily afford to pay the unreasonably inflated costs without a murmur are unlikely to do so. Because of course, one reason why the rich retain their wealth is because they don’t squander money for… nothing.

Since Independent ISPs are being forced by CRTC to implement Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing, CRTC has effectively legislated them out of independence, and it will be a miracle if they can continue to exist. So the only way rich Canadian internet users will be able to express their anger would be to switch to Rogers, Canada’s other over endowed Internet Service Provider.

Marginalized Canadians
Of course the people who can just barely afford to be connected to the internet now, and the people who were hoping that they’d be able to connect to the internet in the near future will be out of luck. They just won’t be able to do it.

In the midst of this global recession, people who are out of work will have a much harder time finding jobs since an increasing number of employment listings are handled exclusively online.

Ordinary Canadians
The people who can afford to access the internet today may in fact stay connected to Bell Canada or the newly emasculated Independents after Usage Based Billing is implemented. Most ordinary Canadians like myself will not provide Bell Canada with the big profits they hope to realize for the simple reason that our budgets will not allow it. At least not after the first *GASP* that many of us will have when the first Usage Based Billing invoices are issued come November.

So Bell Canada will receive a one time pure profit spike largely because most Canadians won’t be prepared for it since there has been next to no media coverage. (That’s the kind of thing that happens when a Regulatory body like the CRTC allows the carrier to own the media outlets and control news media content.)

Bell Canada is expecting to charge these usurious rates to Ordinary Canadians so that they realize a big profit for doing… nothing.

Since the internet has become such a big part of our lives, Ordinary Canadians are unlikely to just walk away from it.

But Canadians will no longer be able to participate online as fully as the rest of the world’s citizens.

We will stop being bold.

Because the thing about Usage Based Billing is that if we are very very careful, we may be able to keep with our budgets. Of course if our inboxes have a heavy dose of spam we may have to stay offline a bit more for that month. What other things will change? We’ll be unlikely to participate in Wikipedia. So all those Canadians who have been freely contributing to wikipedia’s store of internationally accessible knowledge will think twice before they do it again.

Big deal, the CRTC might say. Wikipedia isn’t even Canadian, they might say.

And I would agree that wikipedia is not Canadian, it is international. And Canadians have been promoting Canada to the world through wikipedia.

Which is why wikipedia has a large proportion of Canadian Content. (Maybe even more can con than you would get on a Canadian radio station.) Up until the advent of Usage Based Billing, like everyone else in the world, Canadians have been adding information we feel is important to wikipedia. The kind of information that would be found in an old time encyclopedia. But in addition to all that, wikipedia hosts an impressive amount of information on Canadian art, artists, musicians, etc.

The List of Bands from Canada is only one small way that ordinary Canadians have supported Canadian culture on the internet. But some of the Canadians who promote Canada to the world in that way are no longer going to be able to afford to do so. And many other Canadians will never have the opportunity to even try to participate in anything like wikipedia. It will just cost too much.

Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing Canadian will certainly cause contributions by Canadians to fall off. It will be too expensive.

How much amazing art and music will Canada miss out on by preventing many perfectly good Canadians from getting internet access. How much independent research and development will be done in Canada if it is too expensive for average people to utilize the internet full strength.

Canadian Small Business
How many small businesses will simply not be able to compete? Even though as far as I know “business” connections (currently substantially more expensive than individual connections) are not supposed to be affected by the introduction of Usage Based Billing. Except that many small businesses who are either starting out or just hanging on by the skin of their teeth (this is after all still a recession we’re in) don’t have “business” connections.

And of course businesses that rely on website advertising revenue will suffer a big downturn thanks to the drop in casual Canadian internet use.

Usage Based Billing will certainly change how Canadians use the internet and make it much more difficult for Canada to compete in a global economy.

Even if you work for a big company who can afford a business connection, they are unlikely to provide an additional business connection to allow you to work from home. So Usage Based Billing will impact on the ability of employees to “telecommute” because it will be too expensive.

And Bell Canada?
In order to implement Usage Based Billing Bell Canada will have to spend money to handle the administration of this new billing procedure. So Bell Canada is going to be spending a little bit more money to do that. But particularly in this economic climate Bell Canada is not going to take in the big pots of money they are expecting Usage Based Billing to generate.

We’re in a recession. Even if ithe recession is beginning to ease off, the money just isn’t there.

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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Thing One: Speak Up

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 19, 2009

I’m going to try to do one thing to fight UBB every day. Today I went to Honourable James Moore’s website and selected “Contact the Minister” to send my message to The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

This is the message I sent electronically through his online form:

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

I am very upset about the CRTC’s decision to allow Bell Canada to implement Usage Based Pricing. Inexplicably the CRTC is also allowing Bell the unprecedented right to charge UBB to non-bell customers.

As “a big fan of information technologies” you need to understand the gravity of this threat to Canadian internet access. As one of the overseers of the CRTC it is imperative that you look into this matter immediately.

I can tell you right now that if this ill advised system were already in place I would never have undertaken to create the web page (heritage).

Or made contributions to wikipedia (promoting Canadian Culture).

Or begun blogging (culture again).

Personally I have been working hard learning to make good use the internet but this extortionate pricing will most certainly force me to modify my internet behavior. The ramifications are simply frightening, particularly in the area of Culture.

These reply forms are awkward to use, so perhaps the best thing would be for you to visit the blog I’ve begun which is dedicated to this issue:

In addition to voicing my own concerns, my Stop Usage Based Billing blog also links to as much of the other internet online commentary on this and related issues that I have been able to find (and which I will continue to update). Perhaps you’d be interested in becoming a contributor to this blog when you get up to speed on this issue.

I believe that it is imperative for Canada to be able to participate in the Internet to the fullest capacity. The worst side effect of this decision is that it will curb Canadian internet use, which will certainly put Canada at a global disadvantage.

Like me until recently, most Canadians have no idea that this is happening. If it is allowed to be implemented, I expect that the Canadian response will not be a happy one.

Laurel L. Russwurm

Canadian Flag

Canadian Flag

You can also contact the Minister by snail mail at:

The Honourable James Moore
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Amazingly enough, I believe that it is still free to mail letters to government officials in Canada.

If you wish to become a contributor to this blog contact

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What We Can Do To Stop Usage Based Billing

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on August 18, 2009

Although they began low, over the past few years Canadian internet rates have been escalating to the point where we are paying some of the highest rates in the world for internet connectivity.

In the midst of a recession.



And the CRTC has just given Bell Canada permission to implement Usage Based Billing. In just a few months every Canadian who accesses the internet through the phone lines will be paying more than we’re paying now. In some cases double or more. Bell Canada even gets to charge those of us who get our service from independent ISPs. Usage Based Billing will force Canadians to be paying Bell Canada for everything we do online. Including email. Including spam.

In the midst of a recession.

At a time when so many Canadian Families are struggling to put food on the table, many parents will be forced to curb their children’s internet access because reducing service will be the easiest way to keep internet costs down (short of cutting it off). In a world which increasingly relies on internet access for so many things, this will not be good for our children.

Usage Based Billing will put Canada at a decided disadvantage in the global economy. It will certainly make it much more difficult for Canadians to create innovative software or hardware because the creators and inventors will be stifled by the necessity to watch the clock when they are online.

In the midst of a recession.

If enough Canadians speak up loud now we may still be able to stop this. But once they begin raking in our cash, it will be difficult or even impossible to stop. Remember the GST? It’s never going away.

Things we can do:

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Although I am aware that submissions have closed, as a private citizen I have put in the following complaint to the CRTC. Here is How you can do this:

  1. Submit to the CRTC
  2. For the type of application select Tariff,
  3. and as a subject, use File Number # 8740-B2-200904989 – Bell Canada – TN 7181.
  4. Thanks to Antonio Cangiano for these instructions!

This is what I said in my submitted complaint:

“I am extremely angry that the CRTC has decided to allow Bell Canada to charge Usage Based Billing on my connection to the internet. My business relationship is with Teksavvy, NOT Bell Canada.

Even worse, there is no possible justification of Usage Based Billing.

Not only will this greatly increase my own costs in using the internet, it will most certainly damage the lives of all Canadians, particularly marginalized Canadians. The worst of it is that it will have such a negative impact on our children.

Although Bell Canada shareholders will see short term profit, they will suffer long term from the damage this move will cause to the Canadian economy. Because the result of increasing Bell Canada’s profits will have the larger and more serious ramification of placing Canada at an unfair disadvantage to the rest of the world in our ability to compete in the global market.

Even before this change was announced I was disgusted that Bell Canada was receiving the lion’s share of the payments I make to my ISP. Yet my ISP has been able to provide me with much better service than I’ve seen others get from Sympatico (Bell Canada). The profit Bell is likely to realize from this new deal is ridiculous.

I cannot imagine why the CRTC would see fit to increase for Bell Canada profits over the good of Canadian Citizens. Especially during a recession.

The CRTC is supposed to exist to benefit Canadian citizens.”

What else can we do?

If anyone has any other suggestions please let me know.

This issue will touch all Canadians.  Most people still aren’t aware that this is happening, so spreading the word is probably the most important thing to do.


STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

P.S.  If you are interested in becoming a contributor to this blog, please contact me.

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