The feds’ plan to block entire websites in the name of public safety is a “slippery slope”, warns a national internet manager.
“It’s my observation that legislators legislate and regulators are going to regulate in ways we haven’t seen before,” said Byron Holland, CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority that manages dot-ca domain names.
Any regulations must target “in a very narrow way” specific cyber threats, said Holland.
The Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission in a January 13 notice proposed to have internet service providers block websites suspected of “malicious cyber activity.”
The Telecommunications Act currently prohibits regulation of content on any website.
“The Commission considers that it has a number of powers under the Act that would allow it to establish either a mandatory or voluntary framework,” said the CRTC notice.
“The Commission is considering the development of a network-blocking framework to prevent harm.
“The Commission’s preliminary view is that network blocking is a viable strategy to prevent the harm botnets cause to Canadians. An independent party with expertise in cyber security would be best suited to assess the impact of blocking a particular domain or IP address with a view to protecting public interest and to decide whether blocking is warranted.”
The CIRA in a submission to the CRTC questioned the proposal.
“Canadians depend on the internet, have strong views about the internet and have a sophisticated understanding of internet policy and its contradictions,” wrote CEO Holland.
“Canadians care deeply about privacy, net neutrality and provider choice, and insist the trusted internet they deserve be reconciled with this.”
“It must not introduce a slippery slope or convenient kill switch. Technical measures to make the internet safer must not allow for a slippery slope towards blocking content or free speech.”
Regulations “cannot be used to block content or online speech, a remedy that is rarely necessary, generally disproportionate and, if not held at arm’s length to the technical matters canvassed in this proceeding, the beginning of a slippery slope to kill switches,” wrote Holland
“Censoring websites based on their content would not only be inappropriate under this framework, the framework would also render it impossible. There are already pre-existing legal tools to address the harms suffered by rights holders.”
The Authority counts more than three million dot-ca domain names nationwide.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
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