Several of the largest ISP’s in Canada (including Rogers and Sympatico) have Today Opted in to a scheme to secretly block access to websites throughout Canada. The secret blacklist will be kept up to date by cybertip, an organization that is responsible to neither consumers nor the government. Thankfully, my ISP has not yet sold out; however, it’s only a matter of time until they do, or laws are passed requiring them to. The excuse for this secret blacklist of websites is child pornography. However, consumers and the government are not allowed any say in the process of deciding what is and is not child pornography. Also, for website owners who have websites blocked, their is no appeal process what so ever to get these websites removed. Obviously, consumers are allowed no say into the list, as they aren’t allowed access to the blocked websites in the first place. A similar list in Denmark has already been used to block most file sharing websites, as well as other websites (including various religious websites) as hate speech. One of the companies that has control over the Canadian list, Telus Communications has already gotten in trouble for blocking access to the web page for the Telus employee union during a labour action at that company. It will be a matter of days until websites like LiveJournal are blocked by this list; first, LiveJournal can be used (and has been used) to host child porn on various users journals. Second, Rogers and Sympatico both have contracts with providers of websites that compete with Live Journal (Yahoo! 360 and MSN Spaces respectively). Now that this list is in place, there is no incentive, or legal requirement, for internet service providers to allow Canadians access to websites that compete with their service in any way. Expect to see skype and other voip providers blocked, as they are in competition with Rogers Home Phone and Bell Sympatico’s landline phone services. Expect to see google blocked (or redirected to msn search or yahoo search), as all Canadian ISP’s participating in this filtering list have contracts with other internet search providers. Today, November 24, in the year of our lord 2006, marks the first death throws of the internet in Canada. It was good while it lasted; enjoy it, as you’ve got just weeks or months left.
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