If an Internet service provider offered faster access to some websites for more money per month, would you pay?
Or what if one search engine paid an ISP to slow down another, so its search results displayed much faster?
Organizers of a rally held yesterday on Parliament Hill fear scenarios like those if a looming CRTC ruling on Bell Canada’s Internet traffic “throttling” practices paves the way for ISPs to exert influence on online content.
“If we don’t ... inform people that are oblivious to this issue we will likely have an environment where the Bells and the Rogers of the world are going to control what people see, do and think on the web,” said Rocky Gaudrault, CEO of TekSavvy Solutions.
The rally, hosted by the Campaign for Democratic Media, called on the federal government to legislate ISPs to act only as pipelines. Gaudrault said ISPs have the technology to view the data people download, which could be used to direct web traffic.
Philippa Lawson, of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, said “net neutrality” means ensuring all content is equally accessible.
“It means not letting ISPs charge big bucks for a fast lane, so that well-financed websites get premium access to consumers while everyone else is relegated to a much slower lane.”