Censorship in Canada
Following the loss of net neutrality in the United States, a handful of Canadian tech companies have begun to follow suit. A coalition of telecom giants lead by Bell are fighting for approval and implementation of a website blocking system. The coalition, ironically calling themselves FairPlay, has disguised this as a method of preventing piracy; however, this will ultimately create an Internet censorship committee if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) allows this to happen. Should this happen, FairPlay will be the arbiters of what content can and can’t be viewed or shared online, as they will get to decide what they deem to be participating or aiding in the act of piracy. What’s even scarier? The lack of awareness, discussion and publicity on the matter amongst Canadians.
Who is FairPlay?
As mentioned, FairPlay is the coalition of Canadian telecom giants who are asking the CRTC to implement a website block system and a censorship committee within the federal government. The coalition is lead by Bell, a company already involved in controversies surrounding their #BellLet’sTalk campaign, and consists of other giants such as Cineplex, Rogers, TVB, tiff, and Scotiabank, just to name a few.
What Exactly Are They Doing?
The coalition is currently claiming their efforts to be in the name of piracy and to help content creators, however their proposal not only threatens net neutrality but our freedom of expression online. Their proposal asks that the organization be responsible for deciding which websites are to be blocked without oversight of the courts. This poses a grave threat to our rights to freedom of expression, as expressed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because this means that FairPlay can block any website that they deem to be involved in content theft, essentially allowing them to censor websites however they see fit.
The implications are that FairPlay’s proposal are dire, as they directly violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Internet has lead to a remarkable increase in connectedness, engagement and sharing of information, and to deny anyone the right to this is simply morally and ethically wrong.
Although the organization has not explicitly stated intentions to do so, giving an organization of powerful fatcats the power to be arbiters of what information is to be accessible would be devastating, as the censoring can quickly and easily go beyond those who are participating in piracy. Such power is simply too dangerous in the wrong hands and given to an organization like this, opinions and voices can be silenced. Minority groups or any group with ideals that clash with FairPlay would be a risk, allowing FairPlay full control over what Canadians see online. The danger runs even deeper, as this control over information can lead to manipulation of Canadians opinions on certain topics, similar to how China utilizes its own censorship to do this.
This isn’t about whether or not FairPlay will actually do this, –this is about how no person(s) and/or entity should ever have the power to do this.
How to Help!
If this isn’t the dystopian future you want to have in Canada, then here are a few way you can take action!
1. Send a comment to the CRTC voicing your opposition to FairPlay. This can be easily done through DontCensor.ca as they include an easy to use tool with a pre-written comment for you to submit.
2. Use your profile pictures on your social media platforms to show your opposition. Once again, DontCensor.ca provides many free pictures to use.
3. Voice your opposition on social media directly at FairPlay. Unfairplay.ca offers an easy tool with a pre-written tweet tagging FairPlay and those associated. Remember however to add the hashtags #needneutralnet, #netneutrality, and #DontCensor!
About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fairplaycanada.com/about-us/
Here’s how we stop Internet censorship in Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://unfairplay.ca/
Say no to website blocking in Canada. (2018, March 06). Retrieved from https://act.openmedia.org/DontCensor#top-of-the-form
Why the CRTC should reject FairPlay’s dangerous website-blocking plan. (2018, February 12). Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/why-the-crtc-should-reject-fairplays-dangerous-website-blocking-plan/article37818403/