CANADIAN TELECOMS REGULATOR TO AWAIT COURT DECISION ON QUEBEC INTERNET BLOCKING (Update)
Challenge to Act 74 in the Quebec Superior Court will set the scene for further federal action.
The Canadian province of Quebec's notorious Bill 74, which would enable the province's Loto Quebec gambling monopoly to direct the Internet blocking by ISPs of rivals to its Espacejeux online casino website, hit the headlines again Friday when the federal regulator Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that it is temporarily suspending its involvement in the dispute pending the outcome of litigation in the Quebec Superior Court.
The litigation has been launched by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, claiming that the Quebec measure flies in the face of net neutrality, is anti-competitive, places an unfair burden on ISPs, and is in any case outside provincial jurisdiction because telecommunications issues are the prerogative of the federal CRTC.
In its statement Friday the CRTC confirmed that this responsibility remains its prerogative under federal law.
Section 36 of the Telecommunications Act states “Except where the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.”
Earlier this year the CTRC referenced the Quebec attempt to censor the internet through Bill 74, pointing out that the federal Telecommunications Act “prohibits the blocking by Canadian carriers of access by end-users to specific websites on the Internet without prior Commission approval, whether or not such blocking was the result of an Internet traffic management practice.”
Permission to implement a blocking system, the CRTC asserted, can only be given by the CRTC itself.
The commission then solicited, and received, comments on the subject from the Attorney General of Quebec, advocacy group OpenMedia, Shaw, TekSavvy and Telus, amongst other interested parties and organizations.
All except – perhaps predictably – the Quebec AG agreed with the CRTC view.
The AG felt that the assertion was "premature" in view of the pending court action, which presumably led to the CRTC's decision to await the court's finding.