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Monday, December 22, 2014

Delusions of regulating the Internet. Part 1

Posted by William on November 4, 2011

I’ve decided that if I were to ever lose my sanity, I would run for Parliament.

Of course, were I to run, I would need a legislative agenda – my plan of action to provide for a better Canada.

Now, knowing that we have an electorate ever-weary of their political leaders, I wouldn’t go overboard with electoral goodies – instead, I would make two basic election promises. Keep things simple, that’s my motto!

“I will pass a law that will allow us to regulate the Internet,” I’ll scream with abandon, recognizing that it’s a good populist issue by which to draw voter support across the country. That’s right – I promise to rid the Internet of all of these evil dweebs who have nothing better to do on-line than use the network to share information on how to build bombs, access dirty pictures, and trade information on where to buy satellite dishes in Canada.

“And my second law will make winter illegal in Canada!” I’ll yell with religious fervour. That’s right! C’mon, winter is a terrible thing – it’s cold, yucky, and we have to wear these awful large down-filled coats, which have the nasty effect of making us look like the Michelin tire man. It does nothing for our emotional health, so why can’t we just outlaw winter, allowing common folk in downtown London and Toronto to walk the streets in February in their shirtsleeves!

You see, being a politician, I would make sure that I would pick two promises that would appeal to the average citizen – even if either promise had little chance of success. (ed. note. How interesting this sentence looks, in light of the recent CBC Town Hall.) That’s the nature of politics!

I have no intention of being a politician – I believe myself to be quite sane.

Even so, I remain extremely frustrated with the many politicians and bureaucrats in Canada who continue to make silly statements involving regulation of the Internet. They might as well promise to outlaw winter at the same time.

There is no doubt that we are in for interesting times, as the noise level around the concept of Internet regulation increases. As we wrote in the 1997 edition of our Canadian Internet Handbook (which was released in October of 1996), “a battle rages worldwide for control of cyberspace, a battle being fought between government authorities and the denizens of the on-line world.”

Sadly, the battle is often fought with those who don’t really know the nature of the beast that they are dealing with. And in fact, some of those on the government side who purport to regulate the Internet are a few memories short of a chip.

Case in point — we’ve had the recent situation in which the new chair-woman of the CRTC, Francoise Bertrand, announced that she would like to see the CRTC regulate the Internet, and ensure that there is more Canadian content online.

With all due respect, I think that someone like she is suffering from delusions of grandeur. The CRTC will have as much success in controlling the flow of information through the Internet, as it has in keeping satellite signals from raining down on Canadian backyards.

Not only that, but the concept of ensuring enough “Canadian content” on the Internet is a joke. Does she honestly believe that the traditional old game of shoving Canadian culture down our throats will work in the era of 100-million channel universe?

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