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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Michael Geist on CRTC ruling - implications

Michael has reflected on the CRTC ruling, and offers a glass half-full analysis of what CRTC mandated:
1. 'adopted a new test to determine reasonable traffic management practices. Where a consumer complains, ISPs will be required to describe their practices, demonstrate their necessity, and establish that they discriminate as little as possible. The CRTC added that targeting specific applications or protocols may warrant investigation and slowing down time-sensitive traffic likely violates current Canadian law. '
2. 'rejected arguments that the market would ensure ISPs provide adequate disclosure on how they manage their networks. Instead, it mandated full disclosure of traffic management practices, including information on when they occur, which applications are affected, and their impact on Internet speeds.'
3. 'banned the use of personal information obtained through deep-packet inspection for anything other than traffic management purposes. By also prohibiting the disclosure of such information, the commission ensured that inspecting user traffic cannot be parlayed into marketing opportunities.'

He then offers three suggestions for improvement without needing new legislation:
'Critics of the CRTC approach rightly note that the onus falls to consumers to compile evidence of traffic management practices that run afoul of the commission's test and file complaints. [Clement] can go several steps further by asking the CRTC to conduct regular compliance audits of ISP traffic management practices and by providing financial support to consumer groups who wish to conduct their own investigations. Clement could incorporate net neutrality requirements directly into the [analogue TV refarmed spectrum] bidding process, effectively mandating neutrality into new wireless services. Finally, Clement should acknowledge that net neutrality concerns are largely a function of an uncompetitive marketplace that allows ISPs to leverage their positions without fear of losing customers.'
Fix that and things might improve - though I have long maintained no ISP has incentives to allow free P2P hosting.

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