interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘public domain’

Cat Joke: Making Light of A.C.T.A.

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on March 12, 2010

No Usage Based BillingThe following cautionary cat tale was found in one of the Pirate Party of Canada’s forums.

Pirate Party of Canada logo

Hindgrinder
Re: ACTA Task Force

3 Canadians and 1 American were sitting together watching the Mens Gold Medal Game in Vancouver bragging about how smart their cats were.

The first man was an Internet Service Provider,
the second man was a Copyright Law Professor,
the third man was a New Democrat Member of Parliment, and
the fourth man was a US Corporate Lobbyist.

To show off, the Internet Service Provider called his cat, “Broadband”, do your stuff.”

Broadband pranced over to the computer, logged in as admin and started downloading the entire internet.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Copyright Law Professor said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Public Domain, do your stuff.”

Public Domain went over to the computer, instantly sorted all of what Broadband was downloading and printed off a fair copyright royalties due spreadsheet.

Everyone agreed that was good.

But the New Democrat M.P. said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Parlimentarian, do your stuff.”

“Parlimentarian got up slowly to the computer, created a Facebook page, linked it to Broadband and Public Domain, drafted a dozen emails and bill 398, made a YouTube video meowing for transparency from ACTA cat and meowed an indian war dance song.
Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

Then the three men turned to the US Corporate Lobbyist and said, “What can your cat do?”

The US Corporate Lobbyist called his cat and said, “ACTA, do your stuff.”

ACTA jumped to his feet…….

Throttled Broadband’s torrents to a crawl and initiated a lawsuit for copyright infringement against both Broadband and Internet Service Provider……..
Scrambled Public Domains online excel sorting rules and shit on the fair royalties due spreadsheet……..
filed an inflated grievance lawsuit for RIAA lost revenue…….
bypassed due process to convict 90% of humans under 40 years old of copyright infringement……
screwed the other three cats and claimed he hurt his back while doing so…….
put in for Corporate Compensation for injury on the job in a foreign country……………and
went home for the rest of the day on paid sick leave…………

Internet Service Provider, Copyright Law Professor and N.D.P. M.P. where last seen pooling their money to buy a dog.

Geist

Angus

Of course, I’m wondering who everyone is…

Copyright Law Professor would have to be Michael Geist.

And it’s more than reasonable to assume that the N.D.P. M.P. would be the most vocal Canadian MP opponent of A.C.T.A. Charlie Angus, but who could the Internet Service Provider be?

talktalk logoIf this was the U.K., it would be talktalk, the brave ISP waging war with the dread Digital Economy Bill (the U.K.’s opening act for A.C.T.A.)

Within the joke, “ISP” couldn’t possibly be Bell Canada or Rogers, since their use of consumer monitoring tools like DPI to help run their empires clearly place them in the pro-A.C.T.A. camp.

MTSallstream logo

So if we’re going to extrapolate the casting for this joke, for Canada the ISP would have to be one of our endangered Independent ISP’s like MTS Allstream or Tek Savvy (you can find a comprehensive listing of Independent Canadian ISPs here).

pseudo FBI Warning

And the U.S. Corporate Lobbyist, well, lobbyists are faceless representatives of the business, or in this case group of businesses in back of a piece of legislation, or in this case a whole body of international legislation.

These businesses have been trying to convince the citizens of the world that we don’t own what we’ve purchased for years. They started by placing supposed FBI warnings on videotapes threatening huge fines for non-commercial infringement. Then the earliest attempts at copy protection (DRM/TPM). Followed by aggressive marketing campaigns directed at the media customer base, in attempts to demonize personal use copying.

Now, in the face of these failed attempts to change global attitudes about copyright and ownership through advertising/propaganda, the copyright lobby seeks to change the laws to force the world to follow their rules.

They’ve been pursuing this war actively on two fronts. First, by lobbying individual countries to criminalize copyright infringement. But lately, this group (dubbed by Michael Geist “The Copyright Lobby”) has gone much further, by convincing the U.S. Government to push the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” which seeks to force the world to change copyright law through this secret treaty on a global scale.

The “Copyright Lobby” is made up of the American led Movie and Music Corporations along with their Interested Associations and Copyright Collectives. Of course this lobby group is attempting to remain faceless. because the real victim in their nefarious activities is their customer base. This is why they are attempting to get governments to do their dirty work, particularly through secret treaties like ACTA. They have the vain belief that they won’t alienate their customers.

The copyright lobby doesn’t have a logo, precisely because the companies they represent are attempting to stay out of the public eye. It’s a thinly veiled secret that the corporation unofficially leading the fight for terrible copyright “reforms” is the same company that once had to be legally compelled to give credit to the animators, actors, writers, musicians, technicians etc. who actually created their movies. Though he hadn’t actually picked up a pencil himself in years, the corporate founder felt that the only name attached to movies made by his corporation should be his own. In those days the law disagreed.

Nearly a century later this same corporation seeks to change the laws of all the world so they can maintain control of a mouse cartoon. Which is why interested parties have created this logo (right) for A.C.T.A.

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

D: BitTorrent

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 24, 2009

No Usage Based Billing
No Usage Based Billing

[The First Part of this series was <<A: Open Source. The second installment of the Stop Usage Based Billing alphabet series was <<B: Packets and the Internet. The third installment was <a href=”<<C: Deep Packet Inspection, and the final installment will be E: Open Source Deep Packet Inspection]

What is BitTorrent Anyway??

“BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used for distributing large amounts of data. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it accounts for approximately 27-55% of all Internet traffic (depending on geographical location) as of February 2009.”

Wikipedia on BitTorrent

BitTorrent is an extremely fast and efficient means of uploading and downloading. BitTorrent is an excellent way to distribute large materials to many people via the internet.

Radical Ideas

Like so many of the radical new ways to do things that technology and the internet have made possible, BitTorrent can only work through co-operation. BitTorrent requires a network of “peers”, or other people’s computers who are willing to share the file. This is referred to as “peer to peer” or “p2p.

If I have a large file I want to transfer, the first step is to “seed” the file, transferring portions of the file to multiple members of the p2p network.

BitTorrent begins seeding portions of the file for transfer

Diagram 1: Seeding

It only takes a small fraction of the file to be passed along before the process speeds up enormously.

Seeding continues, but peers have begun exchanging data

Diagram 2: Seeding and Sharing

Once I have a small portion, i pass it along at the same time as I’m receiving new bits of the same file, either from the original seed source of another peer.

uploading and downloading

Diagram 3: Upload + Download = Speed

With many participants (peers) uploading and downloading at the same time, large files can be distributed very quickly indeed.

Diagram 4: Finish Fast

Bell Canada “Throttles” BitTorrent

Bell Canada

When Bell Canada was first caught “throttling” internet traffic to the Independent ISP customers, Bell Canada’s justification to the CRTC was that the internet was too crowded, and that it was necessary to “manage” the traffic. Bell claimed that they needed to employ Deep Packet Inspection to identify BitTorrent Traffic so that they can “throttle” it.

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

CRTC Role, CRTC Website

Amazingly, the CRTC had nothing to say about Bell Canada’s plans to discriminate against particular Canadian internet users.

The CRTC has accepted Bell’s unsubstantiated contention that this discrimination was necessary, and in approving it they have allowed Bell Canada to think that this discrimination is acceptable. In no way does this serve the Canadian public.

You might almost think that the CRTC mandate was to suppress Canadian creativity and the creation of Canadian movies and music. The availability of the technologies that exist to make it easy to create our own movies and music should be welcomed as an opportunity to add to and help grow our Canadian Culture.

Why single out BitTorrent traffic for throttling if it is an efficient use of the available bandwidth?

One of Bell Canada’s arguments for implementation of Usage Based Billing is that Canadian internet bandwidth is in short supply, making it necessary for them to “manage” bandwidth by penalizing heavy users.

So how could anything as efficient as BitTorrent possibly be seen as a bad thing if the Internet is so crowded?

It doesn’t make sense to discriminate against BitTorrent use. There is nothing inherently bad about BitTorrent use or BitTorrent internet traffic. But Bell Canada’s contention is that BitTorrent is bad because people use it to download movies and music.

Which begs the question: how does that make BitTorrent bad?

The Copyright Red Herring

The “Copyright Lobby”, which consists of large media producers and distributors (like Disney), and corporations and organizations (like MPAA), who distribute commercial movies and music, want us to believe that this is a bad thing.

This corporate special interest group has spent a great deal of time, energy and cash trying to promote the “pravda” that any digital copying of copyright works is bad. Making no distinction between commercial bootleggers who distribute illegal copies for profit and legal purchasers who seek to make a back-up copy or digital format shift for personal use, the Copyright Lobby has been pressuring governments the world over to criminalize personal use copying.

The problem for ordinary citizens is that these corporate interests have vast quantities of money to spend and a great deal of media power. This makes it incredibly difficult for governments to stand up to their onslaught. In some parts of the world this persistent advocacy has paid off for the Copyright Lobby, as lawmakers knuckle under and legislate to the detriment of their own citizens by making it illegal even to copy or download movies or music for personal use.

Here in Canada the Copyright Lobby is seeking to influence our lawmakers to criminalize personal use copying. They are trying to make Canadians think that people who make copies for personal use are performing criminal acts, and should be penalized the same as a a bootlegger who films the latest theatrical release off a theatre screen and proceeds to sell hundreds of thousands of bootleg DVDs.

Once again, Channel Four’s hilarious I.T. Crowd puts this question in perspective with this send-up of a video piracy commercial I found on YouTube.

Strong and free?

Strong and free?

Canadian Law says

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, personal use copying is simply not illegal.

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, use of the BitTorrent file transfer protocol is also perfectly legal.

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, peer to peer (p2p) file sharing is legal; Canadians break no laws simply by joining in a p2p network.

The Copyright Lobby’s smear tactics have gone a long way toward making the world believe that BitTorrent is inherently bad.

Bell Canada has convinced the CRTC that it is acceptable to “throttle” BitTorrent, because of BitTorrent’s reputed connection with possible copyright infringement. So although BitTorrent is perfectly legal, Canadian internet users are paying the price for the success of this Copyright Lobby propaganda.

Myth: All BitTorrent/p2p internet traffic consists of copyright movies and music

The Corporate world doesn’t understand radical ideas like Open Source software and p2p file sharing because these concepts are so different from anything appearing in the old business models. Even more incomprehensible to the outdated business models is the fact that it may or may not generate a direct monetary profit.

International Business Machines

The classic example of corporate myopia is:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. ”

—attributed to Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines, circa 1943

IBM For many years IBM has taken the rap for this quote whether or not Mr. Watson really did say it. (Most likely not.) Maybe proving it wrong is part of why IBM is such a going concern in the 21st Century. Having weathered the storms of fortune today’s IBM is a world leader by continuing to innovate and adapt alongside evolving attitudes and technologies. IBM has been steadily increasing their participation and involvement with Open Source software in this new century.

The reality is that IBM not only understands the importance of open source, the corporation has actively supported and promoted adoption of Linux and Open Office in the corporate world. And naturally BitTorrent is a part of the equation because it is such an efficient means to distribute large files (like for instance, Canonical’s Ubuntu.)

“Think.”

—Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines

Seems IBM actually does heed their most enduring slogan (which definitely was coined by Mr. Watson). Sadly, this type of foresight is uncommon. Because BitTorrent is such a radical idea, most entrenched corporations simply aren’t capable of understanding it.

There are other uses for BitTorrent that are not only legal, but even perfectly acceptable in polite society.

The Nightingale and the Rose
Probably my favorite use of BitTorrent is the amazing Project Gutenberg. This organization has been digitizing books in the public domain and distributing them freely… via BitTorrent, since this is such an efficient method of digital distribution. After all, BitTorrent is used for transferring very large files like music and movies because it is very efficient.
firefox logo

BitTorrent file sharing is not all movies and music. Like IBM, many people actually use p2p to help distribute open source software like OpenOffice via p2p. There is a growing body of open source software available, for instance my favorite web browser is Mozilla’s Firefox.

In fact, there the awesome SourceForge website which provides a place to find all manner of open source software, or where you can release your own.

When a new distribution of Ubuntu is released, people around the world gather together and have Ubuntu Release Parties making more good use of BitTorrent

And of course the Pirate Party of Canada has established Captain: the Canadian Pirate Tracker, their own BitTorrent site where Recording Artists and Filmmakers (and I imagine novelists, and software creators as well would be welcome to utilize this) to freely distribute their work.

Every bit of music and every movie transferred is not a copyright infringement. If I get to the point where my home made movies may prove marketable, I would certainly be looking at BitTorrent Distribution. In fact it would probably be easier to distribute home movies to family via BitTorrent than it would be to try to burn DVDs. (DRM makes the two commercial movie making software packages I’ve purchased almost unusable. Of course it doesn’t slow down the bootleggers.) If YouTube is an indicator, I’m not the only person who wants to transfer music and movies freely … not as copyright infringements. I have paid levies to the music industry for home movies I have made and burrned to CD for distribution to friends and family. If I choose to transfer them via BitTorrent now I can avoid the levy but instead suffer the added expense of Bell Canada’s deliberate throttling inflation?

Another really good legal use of BitTorrents are the actual commercial websites where people can go to to purchase downloads of music. So far no one seems to have found anything wrong with this practice.

But that’s not all. Canada’s own CBC Television Network tried their own experiment by releasing an episode of their program Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister via BitTorrent. Unfortunately the BitTorrent didn’t work so well because of Bell Canada’s CRTC approved BitTorrent “throttling”.

Geist tweets about the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation

Which is not to say it wasn’t a good idea. Not too long ago Michael Geist tweeted about the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation‘s foray into BitTorrent use. All accounts indicate that their experiment was very successful indeed, which is having a big impact in the way they do business.

Ink Poster

The sad tale of a pirated Independent film can be found in this TorrentFreak article Indie Movie Explodes on BitTorrent, Makers Bless Piracy.

I guess it isn’t such a sad story after all.  

Thanks to piracy this Indie film called INK was has been achieving a distribution level that the filmmakers had never dreamed of.  They are of course extraordinarily pleased.

I think what is being called piracy here is BitTorrent p2p personal use sharing. Friends sharing with friends is one of the most effective ways to achieve recognition. They used to call it a “grass roots” movement. This is one of the major issues for the large movie studios. This is the place where they complain of being ripped off. What they don’t seem to realize is that this is a good thing. Exposure garners fans, makes a “name”. Fans buy stuff.

BitTorrent Traffic is not the only thing Bell Canada is Throttling

keys
Rumour has it that there are people who actually work from home.

Time was the government encouraged the idea of people working from home. There are all sorts of advantages to society, like reduced congestion on actual highways, less wear and tear on our roads, a decrease in commuting based pollutants in our environment, a reduction of human depletion of fossil fuels.

But if you work from home, you are probably going to have to transfer files back and forth between your home and workplace. Chances are good that you are going to encrypt this type of traffic for security reasons. Although Bell Canada says they are only “throttling” BitTorrent traffic, in fact there have been instances of Bell throttling encrypted internet traffic on the assumption that if it’s encrypted, it must be BitTorrent traffic.

Bell places the onus on the customer to prove their “innocence” before they will consider stopping throttling.

Since the CRTC gave Bell Canada permission to use Deep Packet Inspection to inspect our packets, the only way to ensure that our private information remains private is through encryption. And in Canada any encrypted internet traffic will most likely to be throttled.

Canadian Copyright Consultation

The Canadian Government is looking at updating Canadian copyright law. They held a copyright consultation process this year, traveling around Canada soliciting opinions of stakeholders. Even better, they set up a website where they accepted submissions from any Canadian who wished to contribute. This website was flooded with thousands of submissions. Some are simply a few lines, some are extensive essays covering all sorts of topics, but all I’ve read are heartfelt. Because of the overwhelming response it took a long time to get all the submissions posted. (My own submission finally made online.)

This process led a lot of Canadians, including me, to believe that the copycon process might actually mean that our elected representatives were listening to us.

Unfortunately there is currently a lot of pressure on our government to make copying movies, software and music for personal use illegal. The secret ACTA meetings have caused a feeling of dread to settle over most Canadians. There has been deprecating talk about weak Canadian copyright law.

Except it isn’t true.canadian copyright

If anything, Canadian copyright law is probably more robust than is good for us.

The essential problem that the copyright lobby is attempting to overcome the problem of suing their own customers for what they imagine are infringements. They have noticed that fighting personal use copying garners bad publicity. This problem can be neatly solved by passing the responsibility for finding and prosecuting copyright infringement to governments. And of course the only was to get government to take ob the responsibility is to convince them that the copyright infringement is a criminal offense.

Regardless, currently copyright law is imprecise as regards personal use copying. So we’ll just have to wait for an actual law to be passed before it becomes illegal. (This pressure is actually largely from foreign owned interests– like Disney. It will be interesting to see if our government caves to this outside pressure.)

mixed messages


The government mandated levy we pay every time we purchase a blank CD is a tacit governmental admission that it is legal to burn CDs of our own music.

In the pre-Tivo era, Canadian cable networks actively encouraged Canadians to videotape the movies that they showed so we could watch them when it was convenient. They called it “time shifting” in their massive advertising campaigns. But no media giants took our cable companies to court back then. For the same reason artists will lend or give away their work for free when they’re starting out (because they need to build and audience– exactly like the INK producers mentioned above), back then even Disney didn’t have a channel in Canada. So Disney didn’t kick up a fuss even though they had to have known this was happening. They let it go because it was in their best interests to allow time shifting (i.e personal use copying). Disney knew this was in their best interests because it would help the Canadian cable companies build their market.

Of course now Disney doesn’t want us to record their movies for personal use. Disney would be happy if our government decided personal use copying was illegal. They would be happier still if our government spent time and energy searching out and charging people who download Disney movies.

Disney would be happy they no longer had to expend time and energy chasing down copyright infringements. They would be ecstatic if our Mounties were to do it for them. Gratis.

But this precedent indicates copying movies for personal use is also legal in Canada

So even though p2p networks or copying movies and music are not actually illegal in Canada, our friends the CRTC gave Bell Canada permission to “throttle” anyone using BitTorrent transfers. Because the assumption is that even if you’re not technically performing criminal acts, per se, anyone who uses BitTorrent can’t be very nice.

The CRTC, the government body that is supposed to safeguard Canadian telecommunication consumers, gave Bell Canada legal permission to mess with BitTorrent traffic. Its discriminatory for one thing. If there are copyright infringements happening, there are laws to handle them. It isn’t any of Bell Canada’s business. Or the CRTC’s.

[More on copyright in my other blog– in the wind: Personal Use Copying vs. Bootlegging]

Dudley Do-Right?

Eirik Solheim's metaphorical image of the internet is the best I've seen: The internet is a series of tubes

Even if it were true that Canadian consumers were downloading music or movies, and even if it had been made illegal under Canadian Law, it should not make a whit of difference.

Because Internet Service Providers or Internet Carriers are NOT branches of Canadian law enforcement. They have not been deputized to enforce the law by the RCMP. If Bell Canada was in fact a Law Enforcement entity they would not be allowed to peek in any citizen’s packets without first acquiring a search warrant. Corporations don’t exist to uphold laws, they exist to make money.

The internet has been called dumb pipes, or a series of tubes, or a highway. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, what is most important is access for all.  
The people who control the pipes should not be allowed to discriminate against particular users for ANY reason. Net Neutrality is so important: the internet should be accessible to all.

revolutionary ideas

In the United Kingdom The Times Online Do music artists fare better in a world with illegal file-sharing? article looked at the benefits of personal use copying applied as peer to peer file sharing with some dramatic results.

Canada’s own ThisMagazine presented this thought provoking article Pay indie artists and break the music monopoly — Legalize Music Piracy which advocates making the law serve the artists and consumers rather than just the corporations.

Further rumblings about changing the way we look at this issue were reported recently by the The Globe and Mail blogs article NDP, Billy Bragg make case for free music


http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
sign the petition!
10227 signatures

 

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Usage Based Billing: CRTC Complaints Department

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 2, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

FIRST: I mentioned in Psst… Pass It On: Stop Usage Based Billing that everything in the Stop Usage Based Billing blog was in the public domain. It occurred to me that it might help to make this announcement a little more formal. So I have now officially registered this blog with a Creative Commons CC0 listing to place my Stop Usage Based Billing blog in the public domain. This will allow everyone the right to borrow any bits of this blog they may find useful. For letters of complaint, for example. You’ll find the creative commons badge at the bottom of this post, but applies to the entire Stop Usage Based Billing blog.

Of course the downside of registering a Creative Commons CC0is that supporters of Usage Based Billing people may attempt to use material provided in this blog in their continuing misinformation attempts.

You might ask: who in their right mind would support Usage Based Billing?

Sadly, the answer to that one is easy, the main pro-UBB lobby is of course those who expect to profit from Usage Based Billing. That is to say primarily Bell Canada, but can include everyone and every company associated with Bell Canada, including CTVglobemedia and every one they can control either through economic plums or economic sanctions. I’m sure that this type of manipulation is a lot easier during a world wide recession.

The only others supporting UBB are those who have bought into the misinformation being spread and promoted by pro Usage Based Billing lobby. There is no shame in that, after all you can’t beat the talented writers and advertising folks employed by CTVglobemedia. It’s even conceivable that some of those talented people don’t really understand the jargon and might not realize why this is such a big problem. I’d expect controlling the jargon would make it a lot easier to put your own spin on it.

I know we think of a lobbyists making a big noise to sell their cause, but when you’re lobbying for acceptance of something like Usage Based Billing which can’t possibly be supported by any rational argument, lobbying for a silence would certainly be the way to go.

If you’ve already signed the http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/ online petition, and are looking for something else to do to try and stop UBB, as a concerned Canadian it is always within your rights to make a complaint to the CRTC.

CRTC

CRTC

Even if you have already submitted your comment or complaint to the CRTC specific to CRTC Ruling File Number # 8740-B2-200904989 – Bell Canada – TN 7181 to protest the CRTC’s extremely bad decision to allow Bell Canada to implement Usage Based Billing, you are still well within your rights to place another complaint through the CRTC complaints page I’ve just stumbled across on the CRTC website.

These pages offer you advice and explain the complain procedure to make it easy for Canadians to submit specific customer complaints to the CRTC in the areas of :

  • television and radio (Broadcasting complaints: TV and Radio | CRTC),
  • phone (Telephone service: making a complaint) including both land lines and cell phones, and
  • internet service in Canada (rates, quality, access, legal actions and complaints)

I would venture a guess that a completely different group of CRTC staffers deal with the complaints made through this web form. In fact there would probably be different CRTC complaints staff sections to deal with each of the three different areas the CRTC is supposed to regulate.

At any time you can go to the CRTC online complaints department and submit a complaint here:

Ask a question or make a complaint
Send us your question or complaint about television, radio, telephone, cellphone, Internet or other services. CRTC responds to most questions within 10 working days. Find out more about how we handle complaints for Television and Radio, phone and internet.

1. Make a Complaint about Broadcasting

Perhaps you might wish to make a complaint about broadcasting. The CRTC first recommends that you complain to your broadcaster before complaining to the CRTC. This is reasonable. So first you should contact CTV and ask them why they are not covering Usage Based Billing. Remember, the CRTC first announced UBB in April, but just approved it in August. In all that time, why has CTV not covered Usage Based Billing? My most recent CTV web search came up with this:

Screenshot: CTV Usage Based Billing Search

Screenshot: CTV Usage Based Billing Search

The fact that more than six thousand Canadians have already signed the online petition calling for the dissolution of the CRTC– in spite of the apparent news blackout of Usage Based Billing– hasn’t raised a single microphone at CTV. Isn’t that a strong indication that Canadians are very are interested in the CRTC Usage Based Billing decision? Six thousand concerned Canadians would trigger CTV coverage of any other story. Yet CTV is not covering Usage Based Billing. Why?

CTV is covering the CRTC and CTV is covering news about the Canadian Internet. Here is an example in a CTV online article about the multi-billion dollar revenues generated by Canadian internet services CTV: Telecom Growth. But they are doing it selectively.

Could it be that Bell Canada isn’t allowing CTV news to cover this news? You can ask CTV news yourself. Send in your questions directly:

When that doesn’t work, you may send your complaint along to the to the CRTC about the fact that CTV is only selectively reporting the news to Canadians.

2. Complain about the Telephone Company

It would not be unreasonable to wonder about Bell Canada’s “confidentiality of customer records” I certainly would not trust any company who read their customer’s mail without permission, which is essentially what Bell Canada is doing with its internet “deep packet inspection”. Maybe they really are only reading the bits that say what kind of packets they are. Personally, I wouldn’t take Bell Canada’s word for it.

(Actually, its even worse than just reading their customer’s mail, they’re interfering with it too.)

Like everyone else in Canada, I’ve had issues with Bell Canada over the years. Even though they were incredibly high handed in the days of monopoly, the influx of competition seemed to make them ease up. After all. Bell Canada has always been there. Why not trust them?

Hmmmm. Not too long ago I had a problem with Bell Canada, and I ended up talking to someone in their “loyalty” department. To smooth my feathers he fixed the problem and gave me a $30.00 discount on my next bill. Then he actually told me that if I called back in three months and asked for the loyalty department and said I was going to switch to a different telephone carrier, they would give me another $30.00 discount. He also told me that Bell Canada would give me this “discount” every three months if I kept calling back.

What kind of business is Bell Canada running? I think that policy is twisted. In the first place Bell Canada is essentially bribing customers from switching to the competition. Class action suit anyone? Adding insult to insult, Bell Canada has such a low opinion of Canadian consumers that they don’t even trust us to stay bought.

If Bell Canada can afford to do this it strikes me that they are making too much money already. Lets look at this as a business practice. The first thing that really bothers me is that the Bell Canada Loyalty department is actually penalizing Bell Canada’s loyal customers. The granny who would never dream of switching doesn’t get that annual $120.00 savings because she is loyal to Bell. Call me crazy, but I just can’t figure out why Bell Canada doesn’t just improve service? Reduce charges? Compete fairly? Maybe they are so sure that they are going to get to be a monopoly again that they would rather bribe customers piecemeal as needed than clean up their act.

Personally. I would rather not deal with a company that treats its customers so shabbily. I’m going to be switching my land line to Teksavvy. The savings (yes, in fact they offer better deals than Bell Canada for telephone service too) will help my family budget for the increased internet costs that Usage Based Billing will cause us.

Warning: If you decide to do the same, make sure you call Teksavvy or whoever your new carrier is going to first. Arrange with the NEW CARRIER to arrance the transfer of service. If you do this, you will be able to port your existing Bell Telephone number to the new service. If you call Bell first and tell them you want to cancel, they are likely to disconnect you before your new service is in place, which means that you will not be able to keep the same phone number. (Just another way Bell Canada likes to mess with us

So, after you’ve talked to the phone company, you are supposed to go to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) and find your telephone companytheir list on , you are supposed to deal with them in an effort to clear up the problem.

If you don’t get satisfaction through this process, or if your company is not on the list, you can always go back and make your complaint to the CRTC.

3. Complain about Internet Service

I wouldn’t think there would be any limitation on how many complaints any one citizen is allowed to submit, so long as the topics are different. For example you could reasonably complain to the CRTC about:

  • the fact that CRTC is allowing Bell Canada to implement Usage Based Billing at all
  • the fact that the CRTC would rule in favor of Usage Based Billing in the absence of any meaningful public consultation
  • the fact that the CRTC would rule in favor of Usage Based Billing without making sure that the Canadian public was informed of this sweeping change before the fact
  • the fact that CRTC is allowing Bell Canada to charge you for Usage Based Billing if you (like me) are not a Bell Canada internet customer
  • the fact that CRTC’s ruling will allow Bell Canada to increase your costs in accessing the internet
  • the fact that CRTC has jeopardized your privacy by allowing deep packet inspection of your internet usage, and
  • the fact that CRTC is allowing Bell Canada to “throttle” internet use by inflating customer bandwidth, and
  • the fact that this CRTC decision to allow Usage Based Billing will allow Bell Canada to fraudulently bill internet users for the Bandwidth which the customer has not actually used but which has been deliberately inflated through Bell Canada “throttling”
  • the fact that CRTC is allowing Bell Canada to implement Usage Based Billing in addition to what customers are already paying without providing any additional service to the customer to justify this increase
  • the fact that CRTC is allowing Bell Canada to implement Usage Based Billing in spite of virtually unanimous opposition from the public (the small segment of the public that found out about UBB)
  • the fact that CRTC allowed Usage Based Billing will make Canadian internet the most expensive in the world, and therefore unreasonably expensive, which is the opposit of &ldrquo;affordable&rdquo’
  • the fact that CRTC allowed Usage Based Billing which will make internet access less accessible to Canadians due to these excessive new costs
  • the fact that CRTC allowed Usage Based Billing will damage the Canadian economy by limiting Canadian internet access for purposes of education, technology, art, music, writing, resarch, film, science, research, business etc.
  • the fact that there does not appear to be any good nor auditable way vouched for by Measurement Canada of measuring the usage in order to assess “Usage Based Billing” charges.
  • the fact that CRTC allowed Usage Based Billing will interfere in the internet consumer market to the extent of eliminating the independent ISP’s ability to compete, and
  • the fact that CRTC allowed Usage Based Billing will interfere in the internet consumer market to the extent of forcing Bell Canada’s (Sympatico) competition, the independent ISP’s, to break contractual agreements with their customers, and which will certainly damage and possibly destroy these companies, which will
  • effectively neutralize and wipe out all Bell Canada (Sympatico) competition.

CRTC would like you to go through the same process as with the telephone complaint, where you try to resolve the problem with the service provider. So if you are in fact a Bell Canada (Sympatico) customer, you can direct your questions and complaints directly to Bell or the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services Inc. (CCTS) first.

Of course my problem is not with my ISP, my problem is with Bell Canada’s interference in my business relationship with my ISP and with the CRTC’s ill advised approval of Usage Based Billing. So for me, it is a case of going back to make your complaint to the CRTC. Perhaps if enough Canadians ask enough questions we will actually get real answers. Perhaps if enough Canadians complain, the CRTC will be clever enough to quash the Usage Based Billing regulation, and then consider actually adhering to their mandate.

It should be more difficult for CRTC to ignore these complaints as these complaints are supposed to be handled by a staff member within ten days. THESE consumer complaints are supposed to generate a human response. Perhaps if we help to use up their budgeted resources they might be able to grasp why it is bad to allow implementation of Usage Based Billing which will certainly affect the budgets of the Canadian citizens they are supposed to be looking out for. Maybe then the CRTC wouldn’t be so eager to completely ignore the wishes of the citizenry, as did in making this bad decision in the first place.

To the extent possible under law, Laurel L. Russwurm
has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Stop Usage Based Billing.
CC0

This work is published from Canada.

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Psst… Pass It On: Stop Usage Based Billing

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 1, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

I’m nobody important.  I’m not a “Name” commentator.  I’m not an “expert” on the internet.  I’m only a member of the public.  A Canadian.  An individual.

Just a mom, with a blog.

Like you, I’m a member of the Canadian public that the CRTC believes does not matter. In granting the Bell Canada request for Usage Based Billing the CRTC casually dismissed the Canadian public– the very people they exist to serve– in one sentence:

Telecom Order CRTC 2009-484 – Ottawa, 12 August 2009 – Introduction

“2…. The Commission also received a large number of comments, mostly from individuals;
these submissions generally opposed the Bell companies’ applications.”
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2009/2009-484.htm

Like most Canadians I didn’t know about Usage Based Billing, so I wasn’t one of the “nobodies” who posted the comments so cavalierly dismissed by the CRTC.

Some people in the Canadian computer community were in fact aware of the Usage Based Billing issue because American ISPs had been trying to get Usage Based Billing approved in the States. So pros and cons of Usage Based Billing had been discussed in technical forums, often alongside net neutrality. (Something else I’d never heard of.) But the FCC turned them down. So the Americans have provided a bona fide example of a telecommunications regulator actually operating for the public good. Huzzah!

None of those technical folks with their thumbs on the pulse of the internet were prepared for the sudden onset of Usage Based Billing. The first even THEY seemed to have heard of it was on the last day (the only day?) submissions were to be accepted by the CRTC.

Why don’t Canadians know that their internet costs will double in less than three months?

Strong and free?

Strong and free?


Because Usage Based Billing has not been in the news.  That’s the way the CRTC and Bell Canada want it.  The last thing they want is for ordinary people to find about about this.

They need to keep Canadians in the dark.

After all, CTV is ignoring it. The Globe and Mail is ignoring it. Of course Bell Canada is a very large shareholder in both of these news outlets. And of course the news media controlled by Rogers isn’t covering Usage Based Billing either. Coincidence? I think not.

The only coverage I’ve been able to find is some stories on CBC online, but the story apparently hasn’t been big enough to keep alive. But still, thank goodness for CBC, because their coverage has been better than nothing.

The big problem is that although most people who know about this are understandably annoyed:


Most Canadians still have not even heard of Usage Based Billing

The first time most Canadians will even find out about Usage Based Billing will be when they are suddenly hit with a huge bill.

The problem is, Usage Based Billing will have a huge impact on Canada.

Short term, it will cost us twice as much as we’ve been paying to go online. Which will make Canada far and away the most expensive place on earth to access the internet.

And we’re not talking about improved service. Canadian’s won’t get anything new or better for the privilege of paying twice as much.

The reason Bell Canada wants to introduce Usage Based Billing is to be able to inflate the take.
And incidentally kill off Bell Sympatico’s surprisingly robust competition.

The CRTC’s own website says:

“But the CRTC’s role in telecommunications is evolving. In many telecom markets, several consumer choices are available. This natural competition results in better prices and packages for consumers. In these cases, CRTC allows competition, not regulations, to drive the market. The CRTC regulates only where the market doesn’t meet the objectives of the Telecommunications Act. CRTC’s website http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/backgrnd/brochures/b29903.htm

Yet the CRTC’s approval of Bell Canada’s Usage Based Billing does precisely the opposite of what they claim they do.

Usage Based Billing will directly harm the independant ISPs who purchase bandwidth wholesale through Bell Canada’s Gateway Access System. These ISPs have done a good job. They’ve brought competition into the Canadian marketplace in exactly the way they were supposed to. Because they offer great service and great deals, they have been getting customers. Maybe even customers who are dissatisfied with Bell Canada.

The introduction of Usage Based Billing means that all the people who have contracted for internet service through the independent ISPs will find our service providers can no longer meet the terms of the contract. The fledgling Independant ISPs will be hit badly. This will stun, stall or eliminate Bell Canada’s internet competition. Usage Based Billing is here because the CRTC used regulations to drive the market into the ground. Not for the benefit of Canada. But for the benefit of Bell Canada.

Bell Canada is a soulless corporation, and as such they are entitled to be greedy and desirous of making make twice as much money for the same service.

Usage Based Billing is NOT what the CRTC is mandated to do.

The CRTC exists expressly to regulate soulless telecommunication giants so they can’t double costs to Canadians for no reason beyond corporate greed.

Usage Based Billing will compromise or eliminate both access and affordability. The CRTC has no excuse for giving Bell Canada carte blanche to gouge the taxpayers they are supposed to represent. This CRTC regulation is in direct contravention of their own stated objectives of the Telecommunications Act.

This is what the CRTC is supposed to do on behalf of all us nobodies:

According to the CRTC’s own website, the CRTC is supposed to:

  • CRTC Mandate: ….ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public.
  • Broadcasting: ….ensures that all Canadians have access to a wide variety of high-quality Canadian programming….
  • Telecommunications ….ensures that Canadians receive reliable telephone and other telecommunications services, at affordable prices.

CRTC Website: About the CRTC

The CRTC is incompetent, or the CRTC is corrupt. It doesn’t really matter which because the result is the same.

The point is that they are not only NOT supposed to do harm to Canada the CRTC is supposed to protect Canadian interests.

And this ruling will unquestionably harm Canada. At minimum CRTC is not doing their job.

And this will harm Canada how?

The increased cost means that Canadians will be paying much more than citizens of other countries to access the internet.

The costs to Canada will include (but not be limited to) Canadians paying to:

  • receive spam in their email,
  • see advertisements on websites,
  • or to upgrade Windows.
  • Job seekers may not be able to access jobs requiring online response.
  • School web access will be underused as families may not be able to afford the bandwidth.
  • Grandmothers downloading photos may be forced to choose between internet access and dinner.
  • The people who can barely afford to get online now will find it much more difficult when the cost is so much higher.

Economic damage done to Canada, although more difficult to quantify, will happen nonetheless. For instance:

  • Research and development will not be undertaken by scientists, inventors and web developers because of exorbitant cost constraints not faced by scientists, inventors and web developers in other countries.
  • Many Canadian Arts start-ups will not happen because suddenly Canadian graphic designers, artists, musicians and writers will no longer be able to avail themselves of the low or no-cost internet that will still be available to the other artists, writers and musicians in the rest of the world. Without this means of promoting their work in the face of exorbitant internet charges, many budding talents will be lost to Canadian culture.
  • Canadian IT Businesses who have already invested in websites dependent on high traffic counts neccesary to generate advertising revenue may find themselves floundering and failing in the face of a drastically reduced Canadian customer base. The artists, writers and musicians who do manage to commission websites or contract with hosting sites, will still have a much harder time connecting with their potential audience because the audience will need to be more careful in how they use the internet due to exorbitant usage costs not faced by consumers in other countries.

This economic damage won’t just impact on internet users, it will impact on all of Canada. Economically. In the midst of a recession.

Since the news media isn’t reporting this, we need to spread the word because the word MUST spread.

The petition to http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/ has slowed to a trickle. I think most of the people who know about Usage Based Billing have already signed it. But it is still very important to get more signatures. Hitting the 10,000 mark would be a big enough story that the major news outlets would not be able to ignore it without losing credibility.

But in the mean time, since the major news outlets aren’t telling anyone, WE must be the ones to pass it on.   It’s time for us nobodies to reach out and touch someone.  Individually none of us have the reach to spread the news to very many people at all. But if we all took the time to tell just a few people, the story would get around.

Write a letter to your Member of Parliament.   If you don’t know who that is, you can find out at :Members of Parliament. Snail mail to elected officials is still free.

If anyone needs to borrow bits from the Stop Usage Based Billing blog to use in any letters, everything in this blog is in the public domain. So feel free to help yourself if any of what I’ve written will help. Also, the UBB Glossary is pretty good reference material.

Another way ordinary Canadians can tell total strangers about Usage Based Billing is through writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Smaller newspapers, even free ones have an audience. Even if it doesn’t get published, at least somebody will read it. And if they don’t publish, you can always send it along here and I will publish it.)

I’ve signed up with Identi.ca where I’m starting a StopUBB group at http://identi.ca/group/subb

Canadians need to find out about this before the damage is done.   Do what you can.

So please, pass it on!


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