CRTC Net Neutrality Comments

Connie wrote a couple of days ago about the submission deadline for the upcoming CRTC network neutrality / network management / traffic shaping hearings. Since then, some submissions have been made public that illustrate how important this hearing will be, and how it will affect Canadian consumers and content providers.

The federal Privacy Commissioner has filed an well written submission that discusses the privacy aspects. The Commissioner’s blog post on the topic starts with:

What would you think if you wrote a letter and it could be opened up by a postal or a courier service before it reaches its destination? What would you think if that happened to your online communication? It’s not necessarily a hypothetical question.

Michael has a post that talks about the submission of the parent company of the Weather Network, quoting from their submission:

…the Commission should adopt a more expansive definition of net neutrality and traffic management that would encompass the commercial practices of both wire-line and wireless network operators. In our view, the Commission needs to take steps to ensure that, with respect to both wire-line and wireless network operators, traffic management practices are applied equitably and treat like-traffic in the same or comparable manner. Any management practices that treat certain types of content, particularly content produced or provided by the ISP or network operator, in a preferential or advantageous manner should not be permitted.

And they back that up with examples of actual wireless network neutrality violations they have encountered.

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Comments

  1. Asking whether or not someone wants the post office to open their mail is a largely incorrect analogy that obviously would alarm most people. As sensational as it sounds, the truth is much less glamourous.

    A better analogy is: would you want the post office to look at the envelope to see whether or not you paid for expediated/overnight service or would you prefer they dump it all in the same ‘standard service’ bin that everything else goes in regardless of how critical your mail is?

    Most service providers aren’t considering going into the payload (reading your mail) – and they don’t need to. The information they require to identify the application being used is generally part of the TCP header or can be identified through heuristic techniques. Knowing what the application is, is enough to properly sort traffic.

    And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some application traffic (think voice, video) *must* be delivered expediantly and in order to work, other applications (think file transfer) aren’t as sensitive to jitter and latency. Without intervention *all* Internet applications are teated as ‘best effort’ and are subject to the same congestion management algorithms. Would you like your time sensitive applications to work or not?

  2. There are other concerns aside from these important privacy issues.

    Clearly the goal is to hinder file sharing by reducing P2P traffic. Bandwidth however is not costly, not in short supply, and it is getting cheaper and cheaper. There would never be any reason to throttle bandwidth – and therefore no need to engage in DPI and monitoring – when internet traffic is not at or near capacity.

    I think there is a serious negative consequence – that traffic from “preferred” sources will be expedited automatically because of some ostensible reputation benefit. Service from other less-known sources will have their traffic throttled making it far more difficult for an upstart to compete with a site like youtube even though it may offer some unique and novel advantages.