interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘bell canada’

There has yet to be actual proof that throttling was ever necessary – except as a means of gouging customers

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 21, 2011

CRTC

Bell Canada has announced that it will cease throttling users.

Please note: Bell’s argument for throttling was that it was necessary to keep the Internet safe from brown-outs. Clearly, that is not/was not the case.

Rogers continues to throttle customers Internet usage, and is currently in trouble with the CRTC for violating Internet rules which “rules allow throttling of peer-to-peer file sharing programs like BitTorrent, but not of time-sensitive Internet traffic like video chatting or gaming.”  Because they claimed the Internet was getting too busy, the carriers said throttling was necessary.   Instead of slowing down all Internet traffic, the carrier/ISPs targeted peer-to-peer Internet traffic,  an efficient way of transferring large files online. Yet the CRTC granted the carrier/ISPs permission to discriminate against users who use peer to peer.

uploading and downloading

This isn’t rocket science. When customers pay for Internet service, they should get what they pay for. It is ridiculous that CRTC allowed Bell and Rogers to deliberately degrade their customers service in the first place.

It used to be called fraud when customers were deliberately shortchanged.

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Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Highlights

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 8, 2011

ACTA logo

by Sharon Polsky
President and CEO — AM¡NAcorp.ca
National Chair — CAPAPA

ACTA is an international agreement hammered out by a handful of countries (led by the US, including Canada) that requires signatories to create civil and criminal law to give force and effect to ACTA.

ACTA is intended as a global standard to ‘protect’ against intellectual property and counterfeit products, containing very specific discussion about digital information.

The negotiating parties did NOT include:

  • India,
  • Brazil,
  • China,
  • Russia
  • or any countries known as the greatest sources of counterfeit goods.

Nor did it include any:

  • consumer rights groups,
  • human rights groups, or the
  • Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

The intent to negotiate a deal was announced in late 2007. Because there’s an economic impact component to it, the US declared the draft ACTA text to be confidential as a matter of national security. A draft was circulated amongst rights-holder lobbyists (generally from the recording and motion picture industries). After three years of negotiations, the text was leaked in April of 2010. The Government of Canada released a copy of the draft in October 2010. The final text was issued in November 2010.

An unprecedented degree of secrecy for a set of copyright protection rules.

Once ACTA is approved, its member countries are expected to put pressure on their trading partners to have them join the treaty — of course, after ACTA is finalized.

The final text includes a provision for amending the agreement, and that’s viewed as a back door to get acceptance of the three strikes provision that was rejected during negotiations.

Three strikes law describes the penalty: after three allegations of inappropriate Internet use, service will be suspended for 12 months.

heavily stacked in favor of “rightsholders” at the expense of consumer human rights

Under ACTA, prosecution, remedies and penalties are acted upon based on allegations advanced by the rights holder, and all can be decided by judicial or ‘administrative’ authorities. ACTA sets out the items that can be included in calculating restitution. For instance, an alleged infringer can be ordered to reimburse the rights holder for the retail price and “lost profits” (as calculated by the rights holder), legal and court costs, etc etc. Allegedly counterfeit products must be destroyed, at the expense of the alleged infringer. If it’s ultimately found that there was no infringement, the alleged infringer can ask for damages, but no process or formula is articulated.

ACTA puts individuals in jeopardy since border officials will be compelled to carry out the injunctions obtained in other countries, even if the activity is legal in the border official’s country. Thus, ACTA empowers officials to seize medicines that are off patent in the country of production and in the countries where they are being exported to, if a company holds a patent to that medicine in any member country.

Similarly, ACTA’s border enforcement provisions empower member countries to seize and destroy exports while in transit to other countries. ACTA provides that “parties MAY exclude small quantities of goods of a non-commercial nature contained in travelers’ personal luggage”, so it still leaves it to countries to seize and inspect personal devices to determine if and how much pirated material is there; and the individual will have to bear the cost of inspection, storage, and destruction. So anyone who rips music from the CD they bought and transfers that ripped music onto their iPhone or Blackberry, and then tries to carry it through the border might not get very far. Imagine what it could do at airport screening lineups!

ACTA offers many privacy-invasive provisions, including requiring the release of information necessary to identify an alleged infringer, and any party who might be associated with that alleged infringer.

ACTA puts third parties (i.e., distributors, NGOs, public health authorities) at risk of injunctions, provisional measures, and even criminal penalties, including imprisonment and severe economic losses. This could implicate, for example, suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients used for producing generic medicines; distributors and retailers who stock generic medicines; NGOs who provide treatment; funders who support health programs; and drug regulatory authorities who examine medicines. The potential repercussions are expected to serve as a deterrent to being involved — directly or indirectly — in the research, production, sale and distribution of affordable generic medicines. Ascertaining the third party involvement will require inspecting digital records; and ACTA compels disclosure and international sharing of that information.

Deep Packet Inspection

Deep packet inspection of online activity will be used to identify alleged infringements. ISPs will be required to shut down alleged infringers’ Internet connections, and publicize the identity of the alleged offender amongst other ISPs.

DPI is also expected to cause ‘collateral damage’ when blameless sites at the same IP address get shut down along with the accused. DPI was approved for use by ISPs and telcos when, in August 2009, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner ruled on the Bell/Sympatico case (Case Summary #2009-010). The only limit was a recommendation Bell Canada inform customers about Deep Packet Inspection.

The Commissioner did note that “It is relatively easy to paint a picture of a network where DPI, unchecked, could be used to monitor the activities of its users.”

In January 2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech to members of the French music and publishing industries and said that “authorities should experiment with filtering in order to automatically remove all forms of piracy from the Internet.”

France

government approved SPYware text and magnifying glass

Liberté, égalité, fraternité?

France recently passed its HADOPI “three strikes” law that targets alleged illegal Internet file-swappers. There is no no presumption of innocence in HADOPI. After a rights holder advances an allegation of infringement and gets administrative approval, the alleged infringer receives two warnings, and then gets cut off the Internet.

And there is no judicial recourse.

Under the terms of HADOPI, Internet access is only restored after the “offender” allows spyware to be installed on his/her computer, monitoring every single thing that happens on said computer, and that could also reach to the entire network (personal or corporate) that the computer is attached to.

HADOPI has been sending out notices. Initially, it sent out about 10,000 per day, with plans to ramp up to 50,000 per day. ISPs must hand over information to the government about those accused within eight days. If they don’t, hey could get fined 1,500 euros per day per IP address.

USA

A few weeks after Thanksgiving weekend in November 2010, the US Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department seized and shut down 82 domain names during “Operation In Our Sites II” without prior notice. Not all of these domains contained counterfeit products.

The web sites included a search engine and some well-known music blogs.The released partial affidavit and seizure warrant show that that the decision to seize the domains was almost exclusively dependent on what the Motion Picture Association of America said were the facts, and the MPAA’s numbers about the economic importance of the movie industry and MPAA testimony about how piracy hurts its income.

The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America were two of the 42 individuals and groups in the US that were given access to the draft text early on.

Canada and the International Sacrifice of Personal Privacy

Canada’s Anti Terrorism Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act in conjunction with other legislation allows governments to trade and swap Canadians’ information with around the world without our knowledge.

The PATRIOT Act does the same in the US. The UK Home Office recently resurrected the so-called ‘Super Snooper Bill’ that will allow the police and security services to track the British public’s email, text, Internet and mobile phone details. And the “Server in the Sky” global biometric database will tie it all together.

Vertical Canadian Flag

Canada’s Bill C‑52 — referred to as the “Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act” — is intended “to ensure that telecommunications service providers have the capability to enable national security and law enforcement agencies to exercise their authority to intercept communications and to require telecommunications service providers to provide subscriber and other information” upon request.

No warrant necessary in Canada.

C-52 also requires the telcos and ISPs to provide the transmissions in an unencrypted form and to “comply with any prescribed confidentiality or security measures“. A gag order, in other words.

And the information to be provided is quite specific and broad: It is “any information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting the name, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the Internet protocol address,
mobile identification number, electronic serial number, local service provider identifier, international mobile equipment identity number, international mobile subscriber identity number and subscriber identity module card number that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment”.

C52 compels ISPs to spy on their customers

Under C-52, Telcos are required to have and bear the cost of the equipment necessary to comply; and the equipment can be specified by the government or enforcement agencies.

Between ACTA and other international agreements and multilateral treaties to share information it’s easy enough to circumvent the provisions of Section 8 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms by having an agency outside of Canada do the work, and then share the results back into Canada. Canada and the US have been known to do that on occasion, typically to protect ‘national security’ or guard again ‘terrorism’.

ACTA is based on allegations and assurances of the rights holder.



Guest blogger Sharon Polsky is the President & CEO of AM¡NAcorp.ca as well as the
National Chair — CAPAPA, the Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administrators. This article provides the necessary background for the Sharon’s article “The Hidden Rationale for Usage Based Billing” scheduled to be published here in the Stop Usage Based Billing blog February 10th.

Post Script:
Internet Service Providers are in the business of providing Internet Service, and ‘deputizing’ them to spy on citizen customers is an atrocious breach of net neutrality, which I wrote about a year ago in Nutshell Net Neutrality

Looking over my blogs, I was surprised to see just how much I have actually written about ACTA shared both in this blog:

as well as on my Oh! Canada political blog:

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

An Open Letter against UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 28, 2011

No Usage Based Billing

As Canada gets closer to having the Internet squeezed out of us, more people are finding out about it.
I’ve just received a letter from Lynda Fraser, another Canadian concerned about Usage Based Billing, who is active on the FaceBook Stop UBB in Canada page

Hello fellow Canadians,

Was wondering if you would be interested in looking at the recent CRTC decision to allow Bell Canada to basically kill all of us for wanting to use the internet. Sorry but that’s the way I feel about this whole decision.

Basically most Canadians will see
their internet bill double effective March 1/11
especially if they have signed up to watch television over the internet.

I am not a super user by any means, I do the normal banking, occasional shopping, email and Face Book. I will be affected by this as will the majority of internet users in Canada.

CRTC logo
One of the articles that I read said a spokesperson from CRTC said the decision was made so you pay for what you use to void throttling and caps on internet usage.

The throttling will continue and the caps are ridiculous. Most people I know will end up with an internet bill around $100.00 per month.

I thought Canada was a country that promotes healthy competition with it’s suppliers, the CRTC has ensured that Bell will end up being our only provider of internet services. Bell has even admitted in a recent statement to the public that their system for determining usage may not calculate properly and customers usage could be double counted.

And, on top of it all the announcement of large tax cuts for large corporations just tops it all off.

Not only will Bell raise prices, they will save on their corporate taxes.

The following information about costs and caps are directly from Bell Canada/Bell Aliant for Ontario and Quebec and this was all approved by the CRTC.

Old logo with text: The Bell Telephone Company of Canada - in a circle around a Bell which has the text: Local and Long Distance Telephone

Ontario:
Lite Residence – cap of 2GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over your 2GB to a maximum charge of an extra $51.00/month
Lite Plus Residence is the same as above
Basic Residence – cap of 25GB, $1.70 charge per GB if you go over 25GB to a maximum of $51.00/month

Quebec:
Lite Residence – cap of 1GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over your 1GB to a maximum charge of an extra $51.00/month
Lite Plus Residence – cap of 5GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over your 5GB to a maximum charge of an extra $51.00/month
Basic Residence – cap of 60GB, $2.13 charge per GB if you go over 25GB to a maximum of $51.00/month

Each of the above plans have a excessive usage charge as well. If you go over 300GB it is an additional $0.85/GB with no maximum.
They are offering for you to purchase an additional block of 40 GB for a monthly cost of $5.00 each and you can get a maximum of 3 of these per residence.

I could go on forever about this, actually feel like Rick Mercer doing one of his rants Smile emoticon

Please check into the media coverage on this for more information.

Here are a few of the links to the current articles:

Vancouver Sun: Consumer backlash over usage-based Internet billing goes viral

Globe and Mail: How much is that data plan going to cost you?

David Beers: A metered Internet is a regulatory failure

CBC: Extra billing for internet use a ‘ripoff’: NDP

YouTube: Do You Know
“…the Top 10 in demand jobs in 2010…did not exist in 2004 …
We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist …
using technologies that haven’t been invented …
in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet …”

For those with accessibility issues, I am also hosting the OGG version here.

Georgia Straight: CRTC ruling on usage-based billing threatens affordable Internet access, critics say

and the Face Book group that is organizing a rally of protest

You can also check out the stat on internet usage that has been collected by Stats Can which shows that 74% of Canadians are internet users and the study was from September of 2009.

more details of how we use the internet

Regards from a very unhappy Canadian internet user,

Lynda Fraser

There are still so many things to be said about Usage Based Billing.

NOTE: When UBB is implemented, Canadians will be charged for all the bandwidth they consume. That means that watching videos like the excellent “Did You Know” video from YouTube I’ve embedded above will cost much more. Don’t ask me how much, because I have no idea. From the sound of it, Bell gets to make up the figures as they go along.

Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11946 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



CREDITS:
OGG conversion via Tiny Ogg Thanks!

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Overturn the CRTC Ruling

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on October 29, 2010

No Usage Based Billing

This ruling means that Canadian Internet rates will rise dramatically.

Funny thing is, since I’ve been with TekSavvy for a long time, the grandfather clause it may very well make UBB a non-issue for my family. At least at first.

Canadian Flag CC-BY lothlaurien.ca

Even so, Usage Based Billing will impact on all of Canada.

It doesn’t matter if you can afford it or not. It will affect Canada’s use of the Internet.

Usage Based Billing will change how Canadians use the Internet.

Canada is composed of a wildly dispersed and diverse group of citizens. Our country has maintained a mosaic culture in spite of the fact that our American Cousins opted for a melting pot approach.

Instead of one large shared American Dream, Canadians have as many dreams as we need. That may well be a big part of why Canadians have so enthusiastically embraced the Internet. The ease of Internet access has allowed Canadians to share, celebrate and embrace our differences. The past decade has brought us the beginnings of a golden age of Canadian culture undreamt of in the era when I grew up. Back in those dark days Canadians were searching in vain for the “Canadian Identity”. The fact that it no longer even comes up is a sign of cultural health. The Internet allows Canadian artists to distribute their work both at home and abroad with an ease never before possible. This is a priceless benefit to all Canadians, rich, poor, strong, weak, new immigrants, old immigrants, and first nations… we’re all in this together.

Right now, at this moment, Canada is uniquely placed to continue as we have been, leading the world in making use of the Internet to the great benefit of Canadian Culture and Economy.

This isn’t to say there aren’t problems. There are.

The backbone Internet carriers have chosen not to reinvest much if any in the infrastructure, so what was once cutting edge technology fifteen years ago is now 15 year old technology. Canadians are faced with mediocre Internet service. Our premium priced fastest speeds are laughable in most of the rest of the world. The prices Canadians pay for connectivity are cutting edge, but what we get in return is mediocre service.

And that’s BEFORE implementation of Usage Based Billing.

Usage Based Billing will make the price Canadians pay for Internet access unquestionably the highest in the world.

This is unacceptable.

The CRTC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Mandate

The CRTC’s mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public. The CRTC uses the objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions.

CRTC Role in Regulating Broadcasting and Telecommunications Systems

More than a year ago I wrote letters to the Prime Minister and The Honourables Moore and Clement. The eventual response I received from the PMO was:

“We have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your correspondence to the office of the Hon. Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. His office is in the best position to respond to the issues you have raised. ”

The response that took the PMO five months to craft:

The CRTC is supposed to regulate according to laws under the purview of Industry Canada, placing it back in Industry Minister Tony Clement’s hands. And we have seen Tony Clement show that bad CRTC decisions can be overturned by the Government, as he demonstrated when he had Cabinet overule the CRTC so WindMobile could set up shop in Canada.

The response I got from Tony Clement in respect of Usage Based Billing was quite promising:

Under the Telecommunications Act, Cabinet can decide to take action in response to a petition by varying (changing) the decision, referring it back to the CRTC for reconsideration or rescinding the decision. Cabinet can also decide not to intervene and let the CRTC decision remain in place. The government’s powers to intervene expire one year from the date of the decision in question. Given that the matter is still under consideration by Cabinet, it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this time.

—Tony Clement, email excerpt We Interrupt this Prorogue…. January 2010

@TonyClement_MP Tony Clement Thx for the input, but as there is a 90 day appeal period it would be inappropriate for me to comment further. Be well.

They can do it again.

Tell Tony Clement that UBB will be bad for Canada. Postal mail, phone, write, email, tweet… Mr. Clement can be reached in a variety of ways. Tell him what you think about UBB. Tell him this bad ruling needs to be overturned.

It seems many Canadians have been asking Tony Clement about this on Twitter today.

It sounds as though the Honourable Tony Clement was saying that the Indie ISPs have another 90 day appeal period, after which time Bell would have to give 90 day notice to customers. I’ll try to confirm that.

For more information on how and who to write to, this article has a guidelines, tips and addresses for wrote a whole lot of letter writing: Write Letters to Stop UBB The time to write is now.



 

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 11075 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.
Because Usage Based Billing will harm not only Canadians, but our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

You can also call or write your MP, MP postal code look-up

Heritage Minister James Moore – email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

Industry Minister Tony Clement – email: Clemet1@parl.gc.ca

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

After all, they work for us, don’t they?

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



 

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Internet Security Tip #1 spam

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 12, 2010

red circle with a strike through over the word SPAMWe all know spam is out there. We all get it. The only real way to stop spam is for no one to ever ever answer it.
Mark it as spam and delete it. But so long as one person somewhere in the world clicks ‘reply’ or ‘buy’, it will never go away.

But there are things we can do.

don’t make it easy for spammers

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed along this advice, because it is a simple thing that we can all do.

When sending email to many people it is much better to select “BCC” than “CC”.

  • CC = stands for ‘carbon copy’
  • BCC = stands for ‘blind carbon copy’

When you use “CC” every recipient gets access to every email address.

This is important because if even a single copy of your email goes astray and falls into the hands of a spam harvester, they get the bonanza of a whole pile of email addresses to send spam to or to sell to other spammers to send spam to. Spammers aren’t going away any time soon so we should at least try to make it tough for them.

BCC means that the recipients can only see your email address, their own, and the addressee if there is one. Sending them all BCC would mean that only 2 email addresses appear in the email.

Always use BCC

And no, I’m not saying that you can’t trust the people you sending email to.

The thing to realize is that email travels across the Internet. DPI is the equivalent of unsealing our email.

But in Canada, the CRTC allows Bell Canada to use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to look inside Internet traffic– which includes email. DPI is illegal in Europe due to privacy concerns. It just takes one unscrupulous person with access and spammers have our email addresses.

history lesson: the origin of the carbon copy

Antique typewriter

Before computers, people in the 20th Century had typewriters. Typewriters were machines used for writing. Pressing down on a typewriter key worked the typewriter machine by striking the corresponding letter shaped metal die onto an inked ribbon against paper rolled into the machine.

When using a typewriter, it was possible to make an exact copy by sandwiching a piece of carbon paper between two sheets of typing paper and rolling them both into the typewriting machine. The force applied to the key would first transfer the ink to the paper and then through the flimsy carbon paper transferring the carbon onto the second piece of paper in the shape of the typed character.

The drawback was that the second copy was not crisp. The advantage that every keystroke was reproduced. This second copy was called a carbon copy. It was considered good form for the typist to type “cc” followed by the name of the person who would receive the second copy. In this way, bot copies indicate who received the letter.

A duplicate made without indicating a second recipient was called a “blind carbon copy” or “bcc” since the original recipient is not privvy to either the fact of it’s existence or information about it’s disposition. Often a file copy would be made in this fashion so that the sender retained a copy of his side of the correspondence.


image Credits:
“No Spam” image by laurelrusswurm under a Creative Commons CC0 License

Underwood 11 Typewriter photo by alexkerhead under a Creative Commons Attribution License (cc by)

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Stacking the digEcon Deck

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on July 22, 2010

[My digEcon problems are covered in this three part series, first, digEcon Backstory (Bill C-32) is in the wind, the second, digEcon scandals in Oh! Canada and the conclusion here in StopUBB]

Canadian Flag

The two month public Canadian Digital Economy Consultation ended last week. Canadians were asked for input on how we want our Government to proceed with Digital Economy policy.

Weren’t we?

The Digital Economy Homepage seems pleased so many Canadians participated:

“Between May 10 and July 13, more than 2000 Canadian individuals and organizations registered

to share their ideas and submissions. You can read their contributions — and the comments from other users — in the Submissions Area and the Idea Forum.”
digitaleconomy.gc.ca

Sounds great.

Until you contrast that figure with the more than eight thousand Canadians who made submissions to last year’s Copyright Consultation.

What happened? Why was there so little participation for this public consultation?

Probably the single biggest turnoff to citizen participation– the thing that kept Canadians away from the Government’s Digital Economy Consultation in droves– was Bill C-32. When this so called “Copyright Modernization” legislation was introduced in the house of Commons, it’s similarity to the American DMCA made it instantly clear that this Government chose to ignore the majority of citizen input from the Copyright Consultation. As a result, the prevailing feeling among Canadians seemed to be “why bother?”

Making it Hard to be Heard

The complexity of the Digital Economy Consultation leads me to the conclusion that it wasn’t put together in a day, rather it had been in the works for quite a while.   Yet I didn’t see any publicity build up.   It was announced and launched with lightning speed.   By the Federal Government.

Was the timing a deliberate attempt to to distract Canadians from our outrage about “Bill C-32: the Copyright Modernization Act” ?

NO Canadian DMCA

The Digital Economy Consultation made it emphatically clear that copyright would not be considered a valid topic. People who used the discussion forums complained that any copyright discussions were quickly shut down.

This position would have been perfectly reasonable if the Government kept of copyright and the digital technology issues separate. But the Government’s own draft copyright legislation Bill C-32 strayed from the realm of copyright into the world of digital locks– and in fact subjugates all copyright to DRM/TRM. First the Government dissolved the division between the two areas and then they refused to allow discussion of the ramifications. Clearly copyright should have been an acceptable topic for discussion in the Digital Consultation. Disallowing it resulted in a credibility loss.

After all, the magnificent response to the Copyright Consultation was not what the Government wanted to hear. Certainly they didn’t want to hear it all again in the Digital Economy Consultation. Did they set out to make this Digital Economy Consultation deliberately difficult, precisely to discourage ordinary Canadian citizens from speaking up? Certainly the Government raised barriers to participation for the Digital Economy Consultation.

First Barrier: almost no lead time.

The Digital Economy Website was announced and then it was underway.

Second Barrier: Quantities of prerequisite reading.

A lot to read onsite, beginning with the Consultation Paper Improving Canada’s Digital Advantage: Strategies for Sustainable Prosperity. Copied into Open Office it ran 32 pages. The digitaleconomy.gc.ca site was bursting with links to reference material (much of it government web pages). It listed rules and regulations, defined the terms of the consultation, provided News, FAQ’s and forums, although I never saw them since there just wasn’t enough time.

There was a fair bit to read and think about before participating in the online forums or making a submission. Which would have been fine except for the time limit.   Either the consultation period should have been substantially longer, or the reference and background material should have been made available online for at least a couple of weeks before the Consultation even began.

Third Barrier

The last problem was the submission form itself. Unlike the Copyright Consultation where you could answer all the questions in one submission, the Digital Economy Consultation was segregated into different categories. You had to choose one category or another. Some people made submissions in more than one category, and some answered questions for all the categories in one submission. Either way the very process was awkward, and more difficult than it had to be.

Did they actually want submissions?

The Submissions Page

My submission was the first posted after the extension. I could have made it in under the wire– there was an hour left to submit when I finished– but once I saw the Consultation had been extended I chose to take the time to proof read.

When my submission was posted it was disappointing to see my summary wasn’t included. Instead a portion of the submission was extracted. So I uploaded it a second time. When my resubmission appeared it was added to the submission page without replacing the original.

Multiple drafts of the same submission appear to be separate submissions. A few submissions were made in both official languages, and both these appear as individual submissions to a casual perusal, again making it look as though there were more submissions.

Wayback Machine Screenshot

It took quite a bit of effort just to separate the organizations from the individuals. Initially I thought it would be a simple matter to scroll through the submissions page. In many cases the extract didn’t clearly indicate if the submission was on behalf of an individual or an organization, making it necessary to read the entire summary, or even the submission. And even then there were some I still wasn’t entirely sure of.

When I noticed new submissions being added, I was curious if any submissions had been expunged, so I ran the URL through archive.org’s the WayBack Machine. This is an excellent online tool that makes digital snapshots of the web for safekeeping, and allowing for web searches into the past. But it seems the Canadian Government doesn’t allow this kind of oversight since they’ve elected to disallow robot searches.

The Government’s decision to lock out the Wayback Machine means Canadians have no way to tell if submissions have been quietly removed. Or not.

Even so, you don’t have to be a statistical analyst to see that there weren’t very many submissions at all.

Looking at the Submissions

Discounting duplicates, only 52 submissions were submitted before the original deadline.

Which sounds like an excellent reason to extend the deadline. After all, over 8,000 Submissions were made to the Copyright Consultation.

At the eleventh hour, the Government extended the deadline for four days.

During those four days another 206 submissions were made, bringing the grand total up to 258 submissions.

Before the deadline, individuals made 18 of the submissions while organizations made 34. Around half.

After the deadline extension, individuals made an additional 18 submissions, while organizations made an additional 188 submissions. That’s a stunningly different ratio, with only ten percent of post deadline submissions being made by individuals.

extension

Four days was an odd amount of time to choose for an extension. Last year’s Copyright Consultation announced a 48 hour “grace period” to allow all the submissions to get in. Of course, the government site was being overwhelmed by the volume of last day submissions which resulted in an enormous backlog.

In a perfect world I would have liked a week to make the best submission possible, because I think it would probably have taken a week — full time — to do it properly.

So four days wasn’t really enough time for most people to come up with a comprehensive full fledged submission from scratch. But four days might be just enough time for a team.

Clearly this isn’t the case for organizations because they can spread the work around. I have to wonder why so many of these organizations came in after the initial deadline. Is it possible that some organizations didn’t even start a submission before the deadline?

Was the deadline extension to allow entities government friendly entities an opportunity to whip up quick submissions to slant the results of the Digital Economy Consultation in the direction the Government always intended to go?

Or perhaps some submissions came in deliberately too late for discussion in the idea forum? The Digital Economy Idea-Forum on the website was shut down at the same time as the submissions deadline, leaving no official place for discussion of these late submissions. Perhaps some of the late submitters hoped to avoid public scrutiny.

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I am curious. Was this consultation doomed from the beginning by stacking the deck?

Stacking the deck?

A small trickle of additional submissions are being added. A new one today. There was one yesterday, none the day before, one the day before that. Why are submissions being added after the Consultation closed?

This is the digEcon, not the copycon. It isn’t like the government is snowed in under the response– far from it. The amount of digEcon registrants was a quarter the number of submissions made for the copycon.

Not only that, the copycon didn’t post submissions locked in PDFs (with the exception of the SOCAN submission, which asked for and received special treatment), they converted them to html so they could be easily read by anyone online without forcing citizens to use the proprietary Adobe reader. (And although PDF is quasi-open source, only the proprietary Adobe reader reads Adobe PDFs properly.)

It was plausible that it would take some time to get all of the copycon submissions online. That is certainly not true here.

If these submissions were actually submitted before the (extended!) deadline, there doesn’t seem to be any legitimate rationale as to why it’s taking so long to include them. Particularly as submissions were accepted via the digEcon site’s online form.

What possible justification is there for these submissions to be posted one at a time? The most reasonable supposition is that they are still being submitted. Is it possible that some organizations made these late submissions because the Government asked them to?

If submissions are closed they should be closed to everyone. If the consultation is open, it should be open to all. Doing it this way at the very least gives the appearance of impropriety: it appears that submissions are closed unless they says what the government wants to hear.

This simply further undermines any credibility of the consultation may have had.

Shuffling the Deck

Going back to the digEcon submissions page again tonight (Thursday 22, July, 2010) things have again changed. Duplicate submissions– or at least some of them, including my initial submission — have been removed.

I can’t say either way if there are more or fewer submissions, but my numbers seem a wee bit off. There are also menu options at the top of the submissions list which allows selection of a listing of submissions by Individual or Organization as well as by “most recent”, which may or may not have been there before. It would have been extraordinarily helpful had it been there/had I noticed before.

At this time I don’t have any more time to sink into this article, so I think it’s time to cut to the chase.

Who submitted?

The strangest submission I looked at was this: The Minister of Industry’s Advisory Committee on Assistive Devices for Persons with Disabilities, or ACAD. The digEcon is supposed to be a public consultation, but this submission was made by an Minister of Industry’s Advisory Committee. Don’t they already have access?   Even more troubling, this Government Committee didn’t actually write the submission, it was made by an outside PR firm. What’s up with that?

My vote for the most incredible submission made by a corporation is the one made by Adobe Systems Canada Inc.. This submission caught my eye as one of the very few submissions made in plain text rather than sealed into an Adobe PDF requiring the use of the proprietary Adobe reader. It seems Adobe knows when it is appropriate to use PDFs.

Of the small number of submissions that were made, there does seem to be some variety.

Individuals made submissions.

Online News Media, Educational Institutions and Library Associations made submissions.

Industry Associations, Professional Organizations, Citizen Lobby Groups, Special Interest Groups, Corporations and Content Creators made submissions.

Carrier/ISPs and Independent ISPs

Carrier/ISPs

The Internet “backbone” is made up of “Carriers”, or the companies that control the wire that the Internet travels across, namely telephone and cable wire. Internet Service Provers, or ISPs connect to the Internet through the carriers.

Some ISPs are branches of the same companies that are carriers. In addition to being Internet carriers and ISPs, many if not all of these corporations are involved in other businesses as cell phone providers, broadcasters and content creators. This certainly seems to be a recipe for anti-competitive practices at the very least, and certainly is Canada’s largest barrier to net neutrality.

Bell in particular is appears to be many different companies on paper, but in reality these are a family of Bell companies, who share similar if not the same goals. I’ve included CTVglobemedia in the Bell/Telus group since Bell is a major shareholder.


Bell/Telus Submissions

Cogeco Submission

Rogers Submission

Shaw Submission

Videotron Submission


Independent Internet Service Providers

Independent ISPs acquire Internet access through the same carriers and the same wire as the carrier ISPs. The Independent ISPs compete directly with the carrier/ISPs.

Independent Internet Service Provider Submissions

Canadian Association of Internet Providers

MTS Allstream Inc.

TekSavvy Solutions Inc.

Xittel The Coalition of Internet Service Providers inc. (CISP): The future of telecommunications competition in Canada


Total Bell related submissions: 8
Total Carrier/ISP submissions: 12

The disproportionately large volume of input from the Bell/Telus group in particular worries me.

No Usage Based Billing

Currently, Canadian Internet users are living under the threat of Bell introduction of Usage Based Billing. Although not yet implemented, UBB has been approved by the CRTC with the specific intent of discouraging Canadian Internet use. The CRTC approved this as a way for Bell the carrier to practice Internet “traffic management”. The CRTC approved Usage Based Billing because Bell Canada convinced them that the best way to manage the Internet was to curb customer use by imposing caps and high prices

Because Bell thinks decreased Canadian Internet participation is a good idea.

This seems like the absolute worst thing that Canada could possibly do in terms of growing a Digital Economy. Any proposal on how the Canadian Government should manage Canada’s Digital Economy from a corporate entity that believes reducing Canadian Internet participation is a good thing makes me very nervous indeed.



Back to digEcon scandalsBack Navigational Arrow



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10897 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.

Because Usage Based Billing will harm both Canadians and our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

UBB vs. Small Business

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on June 8, 2010

No Usage Based BillingI’ve heard it said that UBB won’t have a negative impact on Canadian businesses, because businesses have business accounts, and business accounts won’t be affected by Usage Based Billing.

But Usage Based Billing will certainly have a huge impact on many small Canadian Businesses. Big corporations like Bell Canada might have “money to burn” but small businesses almost always operate on tight budgets.

Red Maple Leaf graphic

New Business

Private start-ups and “on the side” businesses are likely to enter the Internet via personal internet accounts, not business accounts. Many small businesses start out as hobbies or spare time projects with no bank loans or investors.  There is no outside capitalization; often just an idea or a dream begun as a personal project or a hobby financially supported by the entrepreneur’s “day job”. That’s exactly how almost all those eBay sellers go into business.

A good number of these businesses are created by students.  Or at-home parents. Others are begun by people re-entering the workforce after parenting or other hiatuses or perhaps after being “downsized” (before or during the recession). The clear advantage of setting up a business in this way is that a minimal cash outlay allows you to determine if there is even a market for the business you want to launch. It isn’t necessary to go into personal debt or apply for government grants or subsidies to get a business started this way.

A wide array of online services like eBay.ca, Amazon.ca, Elance, CreateSpace, Twitter, Identi.ca, MySpace, Facebook, Reverbnation, WordPress, Craigslist and Kijiji.ca have sprung up to serve the explosion of online entrepreneurs with little or no cash outlay.

But Canadians will be far less likely to embark on these small business ventures if they can’t afford to launch due to the inflationary cost of Usage Based Billing.

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Old Business

A decade ago the Internet was a luxury item; a time waster for most small businesses. That is no longer the case.

In the beginning small businesses without a computer or Internet component didn’t have to be on the Internet. If they had an owner or employee with the ability to learn how, or the budget for training, they may have put together a web page. Or spent money to hire someone to make a web page for them. Many companies started web pages or blogs, and once they were online, they remained exactly the same. Because maintaining, adding to and changing web pages is expensive.

But it is hard for a small business to justify contracting out or using employee man-hours to create web pages because most web pages don’t generate any income at all.

Big businesses like Bell Canada may have a budget for branding but small businesses usually don’t.

Many blogs and websites are undertaken by people without expectation of recompense. People create nonprofit informational or public service websites to educate and inform people about their area of expertise or subjects close to their hearts. These sites or blogs are in essence avocations or hobbies, although they often add to the reputation of the person or business behind it. They are not income creating websites. It is reasonable and even acceptable for these websites and blogs to be conducted under non-commercial accounts.

Canadian experts may think twice in future before taking on this type of web commitment once Usage Based Billing is implemented. It’s one thing to offer your expertise gratis, but something else to have to have to pay an unwarranted price for the privilege.

Canadians have led the world in embracing the Internet which means that in today’s world small Canadian businesses must have a web presence. It isn’t enough to just have a web page, it is important to continually add content of some kind in order to draw web traffic. Because if no one goes to your web page you don’t have a web presence.

If you are a photographer or an artist, you might want to show off your work.    If you’re a fine artist, you might use your website to show techniques and features of how art is made, educating your readers using your art as examples. If you’re a cake artisan, you will want to show a gallery of your creations. If you’re a card maker you’ll want to put your catalogue onlline. If you’re a musician, you’ll want to sell your music online. If you are an actor, you might undertake a project to do 100 Jobs. If you’re a geek, you might get together with other geeks and put together a website to tell people about interesting stuff.

Taking your existing business “online” may enhance your business, or maybe only allow it to hold it’s own. Not being able to will be detrimental to your business.   Small Canadian businesses running close to the bone will certainly be penalized by these sky-high Usage Based Billing price increases, and may well have to give up their attempts at establishing a web presence as a direct result.

The exorbitant cost of Usage Based Billing may well stop many small Canadian businesses from being able to compete.

Quartzlab Ubuntu Lynx Picture disk open on an aged IBM Thinkpad running Ubuntu

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Computer Business

An unexpected movement has been happening in the computer world. It’s called FLOSS, which stands for Free Libre Open Source Software. As incredible as it may sound to those of us who grew up in the 20th Century, people whose day jobs computing devote a great deal of their spare time working with others from around the world to create and share software. For free. Both free as in speech and free as in beer.

These people often communicate and work together exclusively though the Internet. And by working together they have created such things as GNU/Linux, the operating system used by most of the world’s supercomputers (like the ones at the University of Toronto), as well as a growing number of personal computers. (I don’t know about you, but I think freeing people from the tyranny of Microsoft and Apple is a good thing.) Wikipedia is another bit of altruism that could never have come to exist were it not for people working together for the good of all. The Internet allows people to come together to accomplish these things to benefit all.

Canadians who participate in these non-commercial ventures will now be penalized by the inflationary Usage Based Billing.

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Cultural Business

Like Vincent Van Gogh, who was unable to make a living selling his art in his lifetime (although his paintings are worth something today), artists create their art regardless of whether or not it is profitable. A tagline on a talented Canadian singer/songwriter/musician/recording artist’s website reads:

“Why music?” “Why breathing?”

Allison Crowe website

For half a century the Canadian Music Industry was been almost entirely controlled by the CRIA, a very small handful of very powerful branch plants of American recording companies. By virtue of their exclusive control of the distribution network they were able to force Canadian artists to sign contracts that were terribly beneficial for the record companies, but more akin to indentured servitude to the recording artists, who generally had to give up some or all of the copyright to their own work in exchange to have their music recorded, promoted and distributed.

Shirley Russwurm, Stompin' Tom Connors, Lynn Russwurm, Lena Connors

Pretty much the only notable exception to this regime was Canadian troubadour Stompin’ Tom Connors. But if you read his autobiographies you will see just what was involved in becoming an Independent recording star in a world dominated by the CRIA.

For most creators just being able to get their work before an audience is the most important thing. The Internet gives Canadian creators unprecedented opportunity to be heard. For the first time in history the Internet has given Canadian creators relatively easy and affordable access to the entire world to disseminate their art and find an audience. Canadian culture is thriving in a way it hasn’t been able to since the 1950’s now that artists can distribute their music yet still retain their copyright and control over their art. Many Canadian artists who might not otherwise been able to get established are able to make a living with their art.

Some will succeed and be able to do business, and some will never become viable propositions. But at least they can take their shot, which is why 30% of the Canadian recording industry is now independent of the CRIA. The horizons of our cultural smorgasboard have expanded. But like anything else, until creators begin generating income, it is reasonable for them to use a non-commercial internet access. Yet this is precisely the type of Internet connection that will at least double if Usage Based Billing is implemented.

Under the old music business model, the best way for a recording artist to become known was through radio airplay. This was such a crucial component of success that a huge scandal erupted when it became known that representatives for the big American record companies had been engaging in “Payola” which was the fine art of bribing Disk Jockeys to play records. After all, no one was likely to go out and buy records of music they had never heard.

One of the chief marketing methods of modern Independent recording artists is to make their music available to their potential audience, by offering the opportunity to listen to it on the artist’s website or download it. Recording artists may well give away digital copies of their recordings freely under creative commons licenses. If the website is in Canada, and the website traffic increases as the music becomes well known, Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing may well put many Independent recording artists out of business — right at the point they are about to become a viable business.

Many Canadian creators may find Usage Based Billing makes access to the Internet prohibitively expensive.

canadian paper money - photo by laurelrusswurm

Coming and Going

Every private Canadian who has chosen to host their own website and paid extra for a domain name– even those who have paid a premium to be get a CIRA dotCA domain name– these Canadians who create content on their own will be hit both ways: they will be charged Usage Based Billing when they upload content to their websites as well as when others visit their site and view it.

What this means is that the more successful the site is, the more expensive it will be to host.

If you are a recording artist, it often takes a while to build a following. Being able to cover the costs of your recording session is not the same thing as being able to make a living from your art. It takes time to get established in any artistic endeavor. And now it will be more difficult as creators will need to pay Bell’s inflationary Usage Based Billing during the difficult early days.

The only way to avoid being penalized for our success will be to make the painful but economically sound decision to put our primary content on commercial sites. A trade-off of exclusive control of our own creations in order to be able to participate on the Internet.

What does that mean exactly?

Canadian paper money, photo by laurelrusswurm

Certainly everyone is aware of the Facebook privacy issues. When Facebook first began their default privacy settings offered users a very high level of privacy, and over the years they have summarily changed them, leaving the onus on their users to scramble to understand and try to re-protect their private information. So that’s the first thing: when your content is hosted on someone else’s site, they can change the rules without your consent.

Another issue is that most of these sites are physically housed in the USA. and so fall under the terms of American law, not Canadian. The United States has had the DMCA for twelve years now, and under this law it only takes is an allegation of copyright infringement before your content would be taken down by American hosts like YouTube. This is an allegation understand, facts don’t have to enter into it. Brit Rocker Edwyn Collins had his own music to which he was the rights holder pulled from his MySpace page after his former label alleged he was infringing copyright. So when Canadians put our content on American web pages we are placing it under the jurisdiction of American Law, in particular the DMCA, even before our own Bill C-32 is passed. That’s something else to consider.

But economic constraints may in fact force Canadian creators to place their own content under the control of others and outside Canadian legal jurisdiction because of extortionate Usage Based Billing costs.

Usage Based Billing will punish Canadian creators for their very success.

The Flip Side

The CRTC accepted Bell Canada’s application to apply Usage Based Billing to the customers of the Independent ISPs as a means of “traffic management”. The intent is to force Canadians to use the Internet less.

This will impact not just on small businesses but big businesses too, because Canadians will use the Internet less because using it the way we do today will cost us more. Since most of us don’t have the first idea of how much bandwidth we are actually using, we will simply cut back on anything non-essential. Instead of casually using the Internet for everything at the drop of a hat as we do now, Canadian Internet traffic will go down. It isn’t just small businesses that will feel this crunch. We are still in a recession after all.

Usage Based Billing will mean that all Canadian Internet traffic to all Canadian businesses will go down.

The first time we met Cody.

#1 Cody on the Deck...Original Size 18.5KB

Bell Canada’s Bandwidth Estimator?

Clearly Canadians don’t know how much bandwidth we are using. Most us us don’t understand what Bandwidth is.

That this estimator is even necessary is a good indication why Usage Based Billing is an incredibly bad idea.

If we don’t understand what our usage is, how can we be expected to budget for it?

Or pay for it?

As far as we know. they will be making it up as they go along. Certainly without understanding how our bandwidth consumption is even being measured we will be unable to effectively budget our usage.

Because I’ve been taking digital photographs for quite a while, let’s take a look at measuring digital photographs.

On the Bell Canada’s Estimator virtual gauge I’ll select 40 photographs as my monthly usage. The Bell estimator tells me that this would be an Estimated Total Monthly Usage of 0.30 GB

I have spent most of my life as a mathphobe. That said, even I can see a serious problem with the Bell Estimator page which is supposed to tell Canadians how much bandwidth what we do online will consume. It’s quite simple really.

All photos are not created equal.

Cody in a Field original size 141KB

#2 Cody in a Field original size 141KB

This is the part that doesn’t make sense. To demonstrate, let’s look at this sequence of photos of my dog Cody.

#1. Cody on the Deck: This image was 18.5 kilobytes. To use 40 photos this size would be = 740 kilobytes

#2. Cody in the Field: This image was 141 kilobytes. 40 photos this size would be = 5,640 kilobytes

#3. Cody on the Beach: This image was 1918 kilobytes. 40 photos this size would be = 76,720 kilobytes

#4. Cody at Soccer: This image of him was 4241 kilobytes. To use 40 photos this size would be = 169,640 kilobytes

Because my photo sizes are in kilobytes, first I’ll convert 0.30 GB which would be 300,000 kilobytes.

Forty copies of my smallest images adds up to a mere seven hundred and forty kilobytes.

Two hundred times that amount would give you a mere one hundred and forty eight thousand kilobytes, again half of the three hundred thousand kilobytes that Bell estimates would be the bandwidth needed for 40 photos.

The largest of my images is Cody at Soccer.

4241 kilobytes is quite a large photograph, yet forty images this size falls short of 300,000 kilobytes, only makes one hundred and sixty nine thousand six hundred and forty kilobytes. Yet Bell says I will be using three hundred thousand kilobytes, or almost twice as many kilobytes as forty copies of my large images would add up to.

Cody at the Beach original size 1918KB

#3 Cody at the Beach original size 1918KB

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the measurement of download speed, measured in how many bits per second you can download.
Bandwidth has also come to refer to the transfer cap being placed on Canadian internet users, which is measured in gigabytes.

Put another way, bandwidth is a data transfer measurement of
(a) how fast you can go at any given time – your rate of speed, or
(b) how how far you can go in any given month – your allowed capacity.”

Usage Based Billing: A Glossary

Since we are talking here about allowed capacity, I can’t begin to imagine what the measurement of usage is based on if not on the physical size of the photograph.

Then if we look at the difference in the size if the large and small images. Forty copies of the largest photo are much bigger than the smaller images. More than two hundred times greater in size. Yet Bell’s Estimator makes no such distinction. Bell says Forty pictures = .30GB = 300,000 kilobytes

Cody at Soccer Original size 4241KB

#4. Cody at Soccer Original size 4241KB

But in my world Forty pictures = (size 4) 4241 kilobytes = (size 3) 169,640 kilobytes = (size 2) 76,720 kilobytes = size (2) 740 kilobytes.

That’s quite a size range.

The kilobytes sizes I’m talking about are the physical size of my digital images. But even forty of the largest images only adds up to half the number the estimator says are necessary for 40 photos. How can that be? What is the bandwidth Bell is talking about?

I’ve also read somewhere that there was a considerable difference of opinion between Bell Canada and the Independent Internet Service Providers in respect of bandwidth measurement. As much as 800% discrepancy. So how will these usage figures to be determined? Will Bell Canada pulling figures out of a hat?

If Bell’s photo guideline is so vague as to be useless, even nonsensical, how can Canadians possibly be expected to keep track of our usage?

At least back in the days when AOL charged by the minute, Canadians could budget our internet use accordingly. We understood minutes.

Red Maple Leaf graphic

Cut to the Chase

Start-ups and trial sites ventured on personal web accounts will be less likely to use the internet as much or as freely — if at all — when Usage Based Billing is added to the cost. Doubling (or more) the cost to slow down Internet use will work. Canadians will be less inclined to use the Internet.

This will be bad for all Canadian business.

Bell Canada Logo

Oh wait: there is ONE Canadian Business that this won’t be bad for: Bell Canada.

Unlike businesses that have to function in a free market, Bell doesn’t have to trouble itself with reinvestment to improve the aging infrastructure.

Bell now has CRTC permission to charge whatever it likes, not only for their own customers, but for their competitors. I have no doubt that Bell Canada is happy that they will be able to double their rates without even having to improve the service. Sounds like a dream business plan to me.

Any corporation trying such a thing in a free market would shortly find themselves out of business. That really doesn’t sound very healthy for Canada’s economic future.



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10848 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.

Because Usage Based Billing will harm both Canadians and our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

CRTC Approved UBB

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 6, 2010

No Usage Based BillingAccording to the CBC Story, CRTC approves usage-based internet billing this will probably come to pass in September.

Canadian Flag Submerged in American FLAG

More than 8,000 citizens told the Stephen Harper Conservatives that they did not want copyright law that is a Canadian DMCA. But it looks like Prime Minister Harper is going ahead with it anyway.

Around 4,000 citizens protested against Bell Canada’s imposition of Usage Based Billing on the customers of the Independent Service Providers. The CRTC ignored the protests from the consumers and the Independent Service Providers and gave it provisional approval.

Another 10,000 Canadians signed the Dissolve The CRTC petition. Yet the CRTC is still there. Making bad rulings that demonstrate they don’t understand.

This Canadian Government just doesn’t even listen to citizens.

Conservative Party logo

It seems that citizens aren’t listened to even when we have a minority government.

Even with a minority government we’ve been screwed with UBB. CRTC has approved Bell Canada’s request to implement Usage Based Billing on the Independent Service Providers customers. On average, Canadian internet costs will at least double come September. They were already among the highest in the world. (For mediocre service too.) It was too bad, I was really attached to my Internet Service Provider, but it will be a miracle if they can stay in business.(I will never grasp the rationale of why Bell can collect money from people who are not their customers.)

Usage based billing will put Canada at a huge disadvantage internationally. We just lost a huge bit of Internet access…

Konrad von Finckenstein


To get an idea of where the CRTC is coming from in approving Bell Canada’s imposition of Usage Based Billing I offer this exerpt from Jesse Brown’s October 2009 Interview with CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein.

CRTC

CRTC

12:30 KvF: Well, well just a second. You know, you have, uh, If somebody comes forward and says this, uh, Internet Service Provider is it in, applying Internet Traffic Management, and he is, uh, this, that, unfairly, uh, discriminating against me or, uh, it may impairs my use, and the first, then the onus, as we set out in our, uh, the, our decision, is on the ISP to come forward and say either “No I’m doing it” or “Yes I’m doing it and I’m driven to it by this and this” and you go though the analytical framework. So you’re positing right away that actually that, that is happening. I don’t, you have to, that’s exactly what you are trying to do, trying to be preventive and, uh, prompt. If and when congestion arises, if it doesn’t arise then of course there’s no issue. If it does arise, then, as I said before, that’s, they may build extra infrastructure, if not they put in economic measures to, to have people pay for the use and thereby modu, modulate the use. If that doesn’t work then only you go to technical ones. Then, uh, uh, you want me to prove a disaster before it has happened. How can I do that?

—CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein
Search Engine with Jesse Brown: The Neutral Throttle? An interview with CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein
Transcript on This Blog Is Not For Reading

In listening to Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein’s answers all through the interview, he clearly indicated that he accepts everything Bell Canada told the CRTC as truth. It sounds like there was never any evidence. But if Bell Canada says they have to throttle people of course they do. Nad things might happen if not.

But the very saddest thing is the CRTC Chairman’s idea that the way to address an inadequate Internet infrastructure is to curb customer use by imposing caps and high prices.

The Canadian Internet is too successful seems to be the problem the CRTC is addressing. Too many people use it for too many things.

Instead of asking Bell Canada why they have not been upgrading infrastructure (beyond maintenance) over the last 15 years, the CRTC solution is to curb Canadian Internet use so that we will use it less. This does not bode well for our children’s future. Much less an economy that runs more and more online.

That’s the CRTC strategy. Now, I’m not an economist, but somehow that doesn’t really sound like a recipe for fostering online economic growth to me.

Canadians need to pay more and use the Internet less.


Since this will make the Internet so much more expensive for Canadians, probably a lot of the copyright stuff will be moot. Independent musicians and other artists will have a much harder time finding an audience when the audience can’t afford to wander freely online.

I’m open for suggestions.

Here’s an oldie but goodie:

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10603 signatures

If you have, who can you get to sign it?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.

Because Usage Based Billing will harm us all.

Usage Based Billing is a Disservice to Canada.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

Trollbusters

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 1, 2010

Trolls: Sometimes Trolls are Welcome.  There are many different types of Troll.  This Troll was the hit of a D&D convention.  The one place trolls are never welcome is on the internet.

StopUBB seems to have acquired its own troll.
(Click on the troll to see a larger image.)

Instead of simply leaving my responses to troll-dom buried in the comments, I thought my time would be better spent with an article about Internet Trolls.

No Usage Based Billing

Internet Anonymity

One of the strengths of the Internet is that it usually possible to comment anonymously. The reason that this is a strength is that it allows people to share information — whistle blowing information in particular — with less personal risk. This is good for society.

Another strength of the Internet is that it is largely “self-correcting”. Because commenting is encouraged most places, and an awful lot of information is available for user-editing, when someone gets something on the internet wrong, there is usually someone who will correct them. So if a “whistle blower” turns out to be someone spreading malicious information, they will be outed and discredited very quickly. This is fabulous.

Now, I have never made any secret of the fact that although I deal with a lot of technical things in this blog, I am not a technical person. If I get something wrong, I want to know about it, so that I can correct it. That’s one reason that my name and email address are plastered all over my blogs. It has to do with credibility. If you want to correct me loudly, you can do it in a comment. If you prefer to do it quietly, you can send me email. (Don’t worry, thanks to some really smart tech people I have a very good spam filter.)

The reason I started this blog was to help other non-technical internet users understand the issue of Usage Based Billing. As an ordinary person myself I have to first learn about the issues and processes before I can hope to write about them. I have lately increased the scope of this blog to cover internet freedom issues like Net Neutrality and ACTA which will also impact negatively on ordinary Internet users. The point of this blog is to demystify the computerese so that ordinary people can understand the issues that will affect us all. Computers and the Internet are no longer luxuries.

I am fortunate in that I’ve had some good instructors, and for things I’ve researched on my own I’ve had excellent feedback. As well I know I have a few very technically astute readers who will not hesitate to provide technical correction where warranted.

European troll with a walking stick stands on a city street.

Trolls

A problem that has emerged out of Internet anonymity is a type of commenter which has come to be known as a “Troll”. Trolls comment wherever they think they can do damage. In forums, Facebook, blogs, and news articles.

Some trolls are just the internet version a vandals; they want to wreck things, or stir things up. Some delight in the power they feel in arguing about anything or everything. They will jump into any argument and take the contrary position just for the fun of it. This type of troll has been around since the earliest days of computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes were the early forums on independent computer networks that predate public access to the Internet of today).

As the Internet has achieved wider readership and acceptance, there has emerged a new class of troll, Professional Lobbyist Trolls. I’m guessing that at least some of these trolls receive a paycheck for their efforts, although it’s conceivable that some simply work for the corporation they are lobbying for. Whether they are officially remunerated for troll comments or not, I consider these people to be Professional Trolls because they engage in troll behaviour for gain.

The first kind of troll exists because they feel empowered through the argument. These trolls often engage in bullying tactics. The standard advice for dealing with these amateur trolls is “Don’t feed the troll.” This means that they should be ignored, because they will never back off. The more you respond, the worse they get. By ignoring them you deprive them of their power. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work because some of them will simply continue to escalate the abuse until a response is forthcoming.

The second type of troll exists because a special interest group – usually a corporation or a political party – is engaging in activity or behaviour that the public will not agree with because it is not in the best interests of the public. The professional troll’s job is to con us into thinking that it will be in our best interests, or if that doesn’t fly, that it’s necessary to make a sacrifice for some reason.

When CBC online runs a story decrying a bad corporate behaviour or government policy, something that triggers thousands of public online comments, often the special interest group behind the bad behaviour or policy tries to stem the tide of public negativity by sending in Professional Trolls. These trolls spread misinformation intended to muddy the waters and try to dissipate or minimize the public outrage. Trolls will attempt to deflect criticism by suggesting a different scapegoat, or more commonly by trying to cast doubt on the credibility of the information. Professional trolls have a whole arsenal of weapons for attacking an idea on every front except merit. That’s the biggest problem professional trolls have to overcome — a lack of valid arguments.

You can usually spot a Professional Troll because they are arguing against the good of society. The corporation, political group or ideology that the troll is advocating/lobbying for, will always gain something at the expense of others, usually the public. Because ordinary citizens don’t have lobbyists.

The StopUBB Troll

First I’ll reprint the Troll Comments I received today followed by my Comment Reply. Then I’ll break the troll’s comment down and analyze the flaws.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Wow so much FUD in this article. Not a Rogers employee, but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense, and guess what, carriers all pay on usage, broadband customers can to. You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Lol the Troll is spreading misinformation again… Although protesting that it is “Not a Rogers employee”, Lol the Troll‘s email address is through an offline “holding company” website with a Rogers IP address. Certainly looks suspicious.   Lol the Troll claims that “carriers all pay on usage”. Either Lol the Troll truly doesn’t understand (intelligence is not a pre-requisite for troll-dom) or is being disingenuous. Bell Canada is a “carrier”.  I doubt Bell Canada pays usage to anyone.

Admittedly, Rogers is also a carrier. Rogers doesn’t usually have to pay for internet access on it’s own cable, but there are some parts of Canada where Rogers is forced to go through Bell Canada’s Gateway Access System (GAS), so I expect at those junctures, Bell is charging usage to Rogers. You would think that Bell and Rogers would be able to play nicely together, but neither share very well, and though they seem to work in conjunction at times, both want to be the only Canadian Internet monopoly.

The Independent Service Providers… that is to say, the Independent ISPs that Industry Canada mandated into the Canadian Internet market in order to provide Canadian consumers with access to competition, must purchase access to Bell Canada’s GAS as well. My understanding is that the Independents are ISPs not carriers. They do in fact pay a great deal for their internet access.

The Independent ISPs have contracted for blocks of bandwidth access with Bell Canada. Bell Canada was able to set the excessive prices they wanted, and the Independent ISPs agreed to pay the high prices Bell Canada set.   So Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth the Independent ISPs get through GAS. These independent ISPs do business by packaging the bandwidth differently than Bell Canada does. Bell Canada is already being paid for the bandwidth that these ISPs re-sell to their own customers.

Usage Based Billing would mean that the Independent Service Providers’ customers would be forced to pay Bell Canada for “usage” that has already been paid for. The Independent ISPs are fighting against UBB because they don’t believe that their customers should have to pay more for the same service they get now. Usage Based Billing will also force the Independent ISPs to use Bell Canada’s pricing system, which will unfairly shackle their business model and most likely put them out of business.

Lol the Troll also attempts to discredit me personally as someone who doesn’t pay for my own Internet connection. Lol the Troll is accusing me of being an unproductive young person, without life experience, living in my parents basement, presumably off my parents.

First of all, a young person living in their parent’s basement is not necessarily unproductive. And age does not always bring life experience.   Considering that Lol the Troll made a second post with the same type of denigration on the About UBB and Me a page that very clearly says who I am, it is reasonable to think that Lol the Troll just wanted to try to discredit me, not caring about accuracy.

Now for the point by point Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Wow so much FUD in this article. “
Broad statement. Opinion, not fact. Attempt to establish street cred by using the acronym “FUD”. This actually backfires since the wikipedia definition points to someone with a marketing or political background. Precisely the demographic for professional trolls.

FUD: Fear, uncertainty and doubt, a marketing or political strategy.

Wikipedia

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Not a Rogers employee,”
Attempting to discredit my information without any validity. I’m sure Rogers has competent as well as incompetent staff just like any other large corporation. Working for Rogers wouldn’t make me an expert. Anymore than not working for Rogers would.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “but your understanding of how the DPI works is nonsense,”
Saying the information is wrong without any supporting information. aka “Because I say so”. Lol is spouting nonsense. Thanks to research I quite understand why DPI is illegal in Europe, and ought to be here. At minimum it needs oversight.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “and guess what, carriers all pay on usage,”
Argument based on Fallacy. Partly correct, not remotely logical. Having just read the Wikipedia page I am amazed… the fallacy page is pretty much a Troll Primer. If you think a comment was made by a troll, chances are their argument will contain at least one of the fallacies listed on the Wikipedia page.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “broadband customers can to.”
Presence of the incorrect “to” indicates someone overly reliant on spell check.
The argument is specious. The points have nothing to do with each other.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “You will one day, don’t worry and suck it up. Move from your parents basement and become productive.”
Inept inaccurate personal attack as a means of discrediting the accurate information I provide.

As mentioned, the other appearance of Lol the Troll is on my About UBB and Me page.

a naked rainbow haired troll doll, a naked blue haired troll doll with blue gem inset at navel, yellow haired and pink haired baby trolls wearing bibs and nappys, a white haired baby troll in a bunny suit, and a yellow haired troll wearing balloon trunks

My younger sisters were quite into troll dolls when we were kids. I couldn't see the attraction.

I actually saw this one first.

lol said
March 31, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Move out of your parents basement and stop whining kid. Usage based billing is out transit has worked in the carrier space for decades, it will come to broadband and will make the internet cheaper for average users, and more money for torrenting brats. Guess what, I’m sorry your mom got mad that you cost her an extra $25 downloading your porn!

Since the attempt at putting me down is so patently “out there” I didn’t bother arguing the point.

Laurel L. Russwurm said
April 1, 2010 at 8:26 am
Ooohh look— StopUBB got its very own troll! My very own troll! Awesome.
And not only that, a troll who can’t read!
Even funnier, one who is parroting misinformation. Guess that’s why it calls itself “Lol”.

Now for the Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Move out of your parents basement and stop whining kid. “
Ridiculous attempt at a personal attack especially considering that it is made directly below my biographical information.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Usage based billing is out transit has worked in the carrier space for decades, it will come to broadband and will make the internet cheaper for average users, and more money for torrenting brats. “
Aside from the incoherence, it appears that Lol the Troll is trying to sell the lie that Usage based billing will make the Internet cheaper for people who do not use torrents. Usage Based Billing charges will be assessed in addition to what users currently pay in Internet rates. Nowhere in any part of the official Bell Canada Usage Based Billing submission to the CRTC did Bell ever make any claim that any user would be paying less than they are paying now. But trolls can say what they want.
Lol the Troll is also attempting to imply that all torrent traffic is illegal or bad in some way, when readers of StopUBB know that isn’t accurate.

Troll-Analysis:
Lol the Troll: “Guess what, I’m sorry your mom got mad that you cost her an extra $25 downloading your porn!”
Another vague attempt at personal attack in combination with casting aspersions on the excellent BitTorrent protocol, which is not only legal, but used for many excellent things, like distribution of Free Open Source software. Or Project Gutenberg.


I hope this article has made troll spotting a little easier.

I’ll leave you with my kid’s favorite web comic XKCD‘s take on amateur trolls:



[Image Credits:
D&D Troll photograph by Benny Mazur (benimoto)
European Walking Stick Troll Photo by HuBar, Wikimedia Commons
Troll Family Group, photo by Felicity Green, aka mygothlaundry, Flickr
the Troll in the “Troll Busters” logo was provided by Roixa RRG You can see more of her work in her ROIXA RRG blog
And of course thanks to Randall Munroe for publishing XKCD under a Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution Non-Commercial license which allowed me to reprint his comic in its entirety.]

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We Interrupt this Prorogue….

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on January 21, 2010

No Usage Based BillingBoy, was I surprised to be flashed with n email notification from Industry Canada.

(Particularly as I have not always been… er… most charitable to The Honourable Tony Clement.)

However, the email bearing his name bears repeating, so I’ll just pop it in entire:

Subject: Regulated access to wholesale telecommunications services
From:Minister.Industry@ic.gc.ca

Thank you for your e-mail expressing your concerns regarding regulated access to wholesale telecommunications services.
The MTS Allstream LogoAs you may be aware, three petitions to the Governor in Council have been filed, appealing several decisions of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Each decision concerns the extent that the large former monopoly telephone companies (e.g., Bell Canada) are required to provide competitors with wholesale services at regulated rates and terms. MTS Allstream has appealed Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-117 and Telecom Regulatory Policy 2009-34, and is seeking more stringent wholesale rules. Bell and TELUS have each appealed Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-117 and Telecom Order CRTC 2009-111, and have requested that certain wholesale obligations be removed.
Bell Canada Logo
The public record of these appeals is available under “Gazette Notices and Petitions” on Industry Canada’s Spectrum Management and elecommunications website at ic.gc.ca/spectrum. You will find electronic copies of the petitions, public comments made by interested parties, and links to the CRTC decisions under appeal.

CRTCUnder the Telecommunications Act, Cabinet can decide to take action in response to a petition by varying (changing) the decision, referring it back to the CRTC for reconsideration or rescinding the decision. Cabinet can also decide not to intervene and let the CRTC decision remain in place. The government’s powers to intervene expire one year from the date of the decision in question. Given that the matter is still under consideration by Cabinet, it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this time.

Once again, thank you for writing. I trust that this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Clement

Interesting.


When Cabinet overturned the ill advised CRTC WIND Mobile decision, much ado was made of the idea that Cabinet interference in CRTC doings was in fact a one time thing.   The second last paragraph of Tony Clement’s letter today rather strongly indicates otherwise.

Very interesting.

Prorogue or no, seems that Mr. Clement is out there working.


Sign the Petition:
http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing

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