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Canada Leads World With Net Neutrality Regulatory Framework

Mark Goldberg

There is a difference between rhetorical leadership and actually instituting regulations. As the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) chair Konrad von Finckenstein said on October 21:

Canada is the first country to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to internet traffic management practices.

In a regulatory policy decision, the CRTC affirmed that it already has sufficient legislative authority within Canada's Telecom Act to police discriminatory practices by ISPs. Similar clauses do not exist in US legislation.

The generalized nature of anti-discrimination provisions in Canada's Telecom Act have continued to provide sufficient tools for the CRTC to protect consumer interests on the internet.

Further, the CRTC has stated in the policy framework that it expects mobile wireless internet services to abide by the principles set out in this decision — likely the first regulator in the world to apply such provisions in a mobile context. Even though it currently lacks the ability to enforce these provisions, the message is clear to the mobile industry.

No other country has regulatory certainty, enforcement processes and a clear framework for defining and dealing with violations of principles that balance the interests of internet users and service providers.

The FCC and its chair may have made policy statements, but it has not completed a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). The FCC is only starting what promises to be a long consultation process for its new proposals.

Providing clarity for consumers and the industry alike, Canadian regulators are leading rather than following the FCC.

By Mark Goldberg, Telecommunications Consultant
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