By Luke Simcoe - Monday, April 9, 2012 - 0 Comments
Lately, it seems you can’t swing a LOLcat by its tail without hitting some public official flaunting their ignorance of the Internet. We’ve seen everything from Vic Toews trying to haul Anonymous before the Canadian Parliament to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly claiming that “the Internet is the new Afghanistan.”
Not wanting to miss out on the party, legislators in Arizona recently tried to make it illegal to say mean things online. Two weeks ago,the state senate unanimously passed Arizona House Bill 2549, which reads:
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”
Regardless of the fact that we shouldn’t be legislating civility, or that the right to be as asinine and hyperbolic as possible is one of the basic tenets of the Internet, the law had “First Amendment violation” written all over it. The language was overly broad, and no definition of terms like “annoy” or “offend” was given, meaning the bill could have criminalized being a jerk in the comments section of a website.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM - 0 Comments
They never forgive, they never forget. Vic Toews should expect them.
Our Public Safety Minister painted a giant digital bullseye on himself today by continuing his silly crusade against an organization that doesn’t really exist. “Anonymous,” he told a Parliamentary committee, “is a threat to us all”. You could almost hear the lulz.
One has to feel a bit sorry for Toews. Few middle-aged technology neophytes have so successfully summoned the dregs of the Internet as Toews did when he told Canadians that they either stood with his Internet snooping bill or they stood “with the child pornographers”. Quicker than you could say “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice,” Toews was dealing with a tell-all Twitter account and a threatening ultimatum video from Anonymous. In it, Toews is asked to withdraw Bill C-30 and resign, or face the consequences.
As it turned out, the @vikileaks30 Twitter account was the partisan work of a Liberal staffer, who fumbled the ball by accessing his account through a Parliamentary computer. He was traced, exposed and forced to resign. Emboldened, Toews is now pursuing a far more nebulous foe- the “group” that posted that nasty video. He doesn’t know how to proceed, but asks for the help of the police and of “experts” to help him gain satisfaction. He won’t get it, but may end up with more than he asked for.
My instinct is to mock, but instead, I will educate. Vic, if you’re reading, here’s how it works:
- Anonymous is not a group. There’s no clubhouse, no membership fees, no secret handshake. Anyone can drop in and participate for a moment and then leave without a trace. Members have no persistent identities, even to each other. Anonymous is better described as an online culture. Or just, y’know, this thing that happens.
- The threatening ultimatum that scared you so might have been whipped up in 10 minutes by a 10 year old. As chilling as they seem, these “official” Anonymous videos are trivial to make, often created by inputting a few sentences into a text-to-speech program and laying it over stock footage with scary movie-trailer music. Thousands of these videos have been created, lobbing threats at everyone from NATO to Justin Bieber .
- Usually nothing happens as a result of these videos. Each is a piece of bait, and most wriggle away on the hook and die un-nibbled. But if a target responds and throws some punches into the air- then it’s on. The more high-profile the victim, the bigger their response; the more attention it gets, the better.
- Video “operations” then become full-on “raids,” and soon thousands of faceless goons the world over come at you with whatever they can. This usually means hacking, mockery, and sending pizzas to your house. It can feel like you’re under physical attack, but it’s usually all just zeros and ones. Ignore it, and it goes away. Lean into it, and it never ends.
- Fighting Anonymous is impossible by design, but it’s funny to Anonymous when someone tries. The more laughs (lulz) a target creates, the longer a raid lasts.
This could be a long one.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
Scytl Canada, the company that conducted the NDP’s online voting, explains what happened this weekend.
This was an organized and large-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack launched against the voting system in an orchestrated, professional, albeit illegal manner.
Well over 10,000 malevolent IP addresses (computers) have been identified so far, as having generated many hundreds of thousands of false voting requests to the system. This effectively “jammed up the pipe” into the voting system, delaying voter access. This network of malevolent computers, commonly known as a “botnet”, was located on computers around the world but mainly in Canada.
The required organization and the demonstrated orchestration of the attack indicates that this was a deliberate effort to disrupt or negate the election by a knowledgeable person or group.
By Peter Nowak - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 3:08 PM - 0 Comments
Yeah, baby! Canadians are the most awesome YouTube watchers and Facebook photo uploaders in the world, woohoo!
But deriving actual value from the Internet, as in jobs and money savings–you know, the kind of usage that actually matters–well, not so much.
That’s the conclusion reached by a new report released on Monday by the Boston Consulting Group, which looked at the economic impact the Internet has had on G20 countries. It turns out in Canada it accounted for about $49 billion or three per cent of GDP in 2010. That ranks ninth in the G20 and below the group’s average of 4.1 per cent.
The Internet’s contribution to Canada’s GDP is expected to grow to 3.6 per cent by 2016, which will place Canada even further behind the expected average of 5.3 per cent. By then we’ll be twelfth.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 19, 2012 at 2:44 PM - 0 Comments
This graph has been making the rounds as a possible indication of how the NDP leadership candidates are running with a week to go, the theory being that interest (as expressed by Google searches) corresponds somehow with support.
How much credence to give those lines? I have no idea. For the sake of comparison, here is a similar graph for the time period covering the last federal election and here are the last few months of the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, March 2, 2012 at 3:22 PM - 0 Comments
It’s 8 p.m. on a Wednesday in the Joe Blow household. Mom’s in the living room, watching a Netflix movie in HD. Dad’s making a video Skype call in his office. And Joe Jr. is playing World of Warcraft in the basement. The Blows are decent, law-abiding and bandwidth-thrifty folks. Piracy is not tolerated, and all screens are off by 10 p.m. They’ve never exceeded their monthly bandwidth cap.
So how much should they expect to pay for their Internet? According to George Burger, a veteran telecom executive currently advising the independent ISP TekSavvy, mainstream use like that could soon cost upwards of $150 a month.
That’s what’s to come in the post-UBB Canada, says Burger. This may come as a bummer to the 100,000+ Canadians who were active against Usage Based Billing, and who thought they had won. When the CRTC ditched Usage Based Billing for a capacity-based pricing model, it seemed to many onlookers (myself included) that reason had won. Continue…
By Luke Simcoe - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 3:24 PM - 0 Comments
Luke Simcoe is a guest technology blogger. He will be contributing the occasional post on the Internet and the various kooks and cranks who inhabit it.
As Public Safety Minister Vic Toews watches the sordid details of his divorce get published online by an anonymous critic, he might find an unlikely shoulder to cry on.
Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Toews-sponsored Bill C-30, which would grant police warantless access to Internet users’ private records. She’s called the bill a “a major intrusion into our personal lives” and a “gold mine for hackers.” But once this whole “Lawful Access” dust-up is over, Toews and Cavoukian might well be able to sit down, grab a drink and bond over being ridiculed on the Internet.
For the past two years, Cavoukian has been dogged by a satiric doppelganger on Twitter. Dubbed the Fake Ann Cavoukian, the account frequently lampoons the privacy commissioner’s policies. The real Cavoukian’s website says she “encourages the combination of privacy and security in a proactive, positive sum manner when developing new technologies.” In contrast, the counterfeit Cavoukian boasts that she has been “faking concern for privacy since 1997” and dismisses her detractors as “privacytards.”
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM - 0 Comments
In today’s National Post, Andrew Coyne ponders the sudden “hysteria” that has erupted around Vic Toews’ Lawful Access legislation. Why has this Internet snooping bill suddenly inspired so much debate, controversy and activity, when a near-identical version introduced in 2005 by the Liberals was barely discussed?
After considering all possibilities, Coyne nails it: it’s the Internet, stupid. But here’s what he gets wrong: “The Internet” does not exist. Teh Internets (sic) do. Coyne considers the value of “the online community as a political force.” Interchangeably, he refers to this community as “anonymous… digital vigilantes.”
By Gabriela Perdomo - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 10:51 AM - 0 Comments
Reporters at the Ottawa Citizen have traced the @vikileaks30 Twitter account back to a…
Reporters at the Ottawa Citizen have traced the @vikileaks30 Twitter account back to a House of Commons computer. The Twitter feed went viral earlier this week as it spread lurid details of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’s private life gleaned from court records from his divorce proceedings. The account is intended as a protest against the erosion of online privacy that would happen if the government approved the “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.” (AKA Bill C-30).
The feed now boasts over 9,000 followers. Liberal MP Justin Trudeau was one of the first adopters, and has been an avid “re-tweeter” of the posts.
The Citizen tricked the poster into revealing his or her IP address, which is assigned to a computer inside the House of Commons. The report notes the same address has been used to “update Wikipedia articles often giving them what appears to be a pro-NDP bias.” There is no indication that the person—or persons—behind the Vikileaks30 account has been identified. Only a formal complaint by the minister or anyone else in the House would trigger an investigation into the matter.
In part because of the backlash caused by the Twitter feed, the government has indicated it will re-consider some aspects of Bill C-30.
UPDATE: According to the CBC, Toews will send a letter to House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer requesting an investigation into the Twitter feed.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 5:15 PM - 0 Comments
Thus begins the Vikileaks Twitter account, a mean-spirited, vindictive, and very effective effort to humiliate and discredit Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. The account claims to draw its material from publicly available court documents from Toews’s divorce. In less than 100 tweets (so far), its anonymous author assassinates Toews’ character in ways personal and professional. I learned more about Toews than I cared to.
I won’t pass along the dirt. I don’t have to. It’s out there for anyone to read—and a lot of people are reading. As I write, the account has been active for about 48 hours, and it already has over 7,000 followers. Even if the account is shut down, its revelations will live online forever. And it probably won’t be shut down. Publishing court records is perfectly legal. Continue…
By Gustavo Vieira - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Opposition MPs and critics of the online-surveillance bill tabled by the government of Stephen…
Opposition MPs and critics of the online-surveillance bill tabled by the government of Stephen Harper lashed out at the Conservatives on Tuesday, after Public Safety Minister Vic Toews caused outrage on Monday by referring to opponents of the bill as siding with child pornographers. During Question Period on Tuesday, NDP MP Charlie Angus said the government was setting out to “snoop and spy” on average Canadians, while Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae asked the Prime Minister whether the alleged friends of pedophiles included the provincial privacy commissioners who wrote an open letter to Toews last year criticizing the bill. In addition to concerns about police being able to obtain information on Internet users without a warrant, the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, also raised the issue of the bill requiring Internet service providers (including Rogers, which owns Maclean’s) and websites to collect and store users’ data, which, she said, could create a “Fort Knox of information” for hackers and criminals to prey on. It’s an issue Maclean’s blogger and TVO host Jesse Brown also pointed to on Tuesday. An online petition against the bill has already collected close to 90,000 signatures. Steve Anderson, the executive director of OpenMedia.ca, which organized the Stop Online Spying petition in May, compared the effects of the bill to the Orwellian online surveillance practiced by the governments of Syria and China.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
The Ontario privacy commissioner dismisses both the government’s argument and its rhetoric.
“Simply put, criminals have moved beyond 20th-century technology,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson declared at a news conference Tuesday. “We need to ensure that law enforcement has the tools necessary to fight crime in the 21st century.” To which Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner, replied: “Nonsense.” She called the bill “a major intrusion into our personal lives.”
… Ms. Cavoukian, the Ontario privacy commissioner, said she “was so offended” by Mr. Toews’ statement in the House. “But what it showed to me was the weakness of their case.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 12:15 PM - 0 Comments
The government has tabled its online surveillance legislation, now dubbed the “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.”
Holding up his BlackBerry, NDP digital critic Charlie Angus said the bill would undermine the privacy of average Canadians. ”Now, every single Canadian citizen is walking around with an electronic prisoner’s bracelet,” Angus said after the tabling of the bill. ”I say to Vic Toews, ‘Stop hiding behind the boogey man. Stop using the boogey man to attack the basic rights of Canadian citizens.’ Is Vic Toews saying that Stockwell Day supports child pornography? Is Vic Toews saying that every privacy commissioner in this country who has raised concerns about this government’s attempt to erase the basic obligation to get a judicial warrant, is he saying that they’re for child pornography?”
As public safety minister, Mr. Day rejected the notion of giving police the power to obtain online information without a warrant. The privacy commissioner has said the Harper government has not provided sufficient justification for such power. And police forces have so far been unable to explain why they need the power. More from our Jesse Brown here, here, here and here.
By Gustavo Vieira - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
If you’re worried about the government snooping on your online activities, then you’re siding…
If you’re worried about the government snooping on your online activities, then you’re siding with the child pornographers, according to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Toews is expected to introduce a bill on Tuesday that would expand the police’s powers to conduct online surveillance without a warrant. When Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia pointed out the privacy concerns involved, Toews responded, “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.” Among the many contentious items in the bill are the provisions that would force Internet service providers (such as Rogers, which owns Maclean’s) to hand over data, including names, mobile phone numbers, email and IP addresses, all without a warrant.
This is not the first time Toews refers to opponents of the bill as siding with child pornographers. Toews made similar comments on Twitter earlier this month and during Question Period back in November. And as The Globe and Mail‘s John Ibbitson points out, similar remarks by Stephen Harper may have cost him the 2004 election.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 5:51 PM - 0 Comments
Evgeny Morozov is a smart young guy. At just 27, he is an editor for Foreign Policy magazine, a paid brain at the New America Foundation think tank, a TED fellow, and a published author. His bailiwick is the Internet, a topic he has important things to say about. Unfortunately, Morozov has marketed himself (or allowed himself to be marketed) as a professional naysayer. A grumpy pundit. A debunker.
You see, publishers of “Big Idea” tech books want to make life easy on our frantic little brains. They want book titles to quickly tell us what we’re getting into. They want talk show producers and conference programmers to be able to quickly cast debates with ready-to-rumble pundits, clearly labeled pro and con, like good guy/bad guy wrestlers. So they cleave thinkers into two categories: Utopians and Debunkers.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 2:49 PM - 0 Comments
Correction: in an earlier version of this post, I bungled the numbers of every copyright bill mentioned, each time they were mentioned. You realize that I’ve been covering this stuff for years, right? I regret the error, and will try to get more sleep tonight.
A ragtag group of plucky idealists stand up to bullying corporations who seek private profit at the expense of public freedom. The protesters’ message spreads, their numbers swell, and the people stand united. They demand action from politicians whose allegiances have strayed, and they speak truth to power in creative and inspiring ways. Their voices combined cannot be ignored. The people prevail.
It’s awfully cheesy—a Hollywood remake of a much darker foreign film. In the original Canadian version, the people got screwed.
That’s how SOPA is different from Bill C-11. When the anti-SOPA protests were heating up a few weeks back, I’ll admit it, I was bored. I’d seen this movie before, and I knew how it was going to end. I was wrong. SOPA is dead, while Bill C-11 is set to pass.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 10:28 AM - 0 Comments
For the past 12 years, Canada’s cops have been pushing for new laws that would allow them to skip the pesky formality of having to get a warrant before spying on us on the Internet. (For some background on these Lawful Access laws, check out these posts.)
Critics of Lawful Access, such as our federal Privacy Commissioner and every provincial Privacy Commissioner, argue that police have yet to provide sufficient evidence that court oversight has actually slowed them down or stopped them from fighting crime. And now, Canadian police themselves are saying the same thing.
The online rights group OpenMedia.ca has obtained and released a message it says was recently sent by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) to law enforcement colleagues urgently requesting that they provide “actual examples” of cases where the need to get warrants before accessing private information from Internet Service Providers “hindered an investigation or threatened public safety.” The message goes on to admit that though a similar request had been made two years ago, it failed to produce “a sufficient quantity of good examples.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 13, 2012 at 11:24 AM - 0 Comments
The original purpose of the ban was to prevent Western Canadian voters from knowing results from the Atlantic Provinces before casting their ballots. At the time, there was a four hour difference between the closing of the polls in Atlantic Canada and in British Columbia. To address this gap, Parliament introduced staggered voting hours in 1996 which ensures that the outcome of any general election cannot be known before polls close anywhere in Canada.
“We’re in the 21st century,” added Minister Uppal. “The ban, which was enacted in 1938, does not make sense with the widespread use of social media and other modern communications technology.”
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 5:00 PM - 0 Comments
Another article that I heard a few people talking about over New Year’s was this piece on “The Joy of Quiet” by Pico Iyer. It’s a contribution to a familiar subgenre: talking about the need to slow down and collect our thoughts in an era where we’re being bombarded by screens, technology, information. After reading it, a friend speculated that there will come a day when people boast about not being on the internet, the way they used to boast about not owning a TV (a boast that no longer has any value, since you can watch TV without owning a TV). Even the writer of the article, you’ll notice, does not go that far; he takes a break from the internet sometimes and doesn’t connect when he leaves his computer, but some kind of internet connection is a necessity in his job.
That may prevent internet-bashing from being quite as big as TV-bashing was. Most of what a TV provided could be provided by some other medium – even real-time news updates, which the radio was fine for. So all you really had to reject by giving up TV was the entertainment programming; and that, of course, was precisely the point. But the internet is a combination of so many things, and some of them have replaced or supplanted other things. It was possible in 1997 to say you weren’t on the internet and be proud of it. Now, for many people, it would sound like a person of another era claiming not to use telephones. (There were people who refused to use telephones, I’m sure, but I don’t think it was cool the way doing without TV was considered sort of cool.)
Which may answer a question I’ve floated once or twice: why is it that bashing the internet has never quite taken off the way bashing TV did? Sure, there are lots of articles about what the internet is doing to our brains, and some of the things they say may even be true, but they usually carry with them a sense that the writer is descending into fuddy-duddyism. Whereas bemoaning the influence of TV has been a cottage industry literally since the medium became popular, and that attitude doesn’t carry the same penalty as being anti-internet. Criticizing the internet is taken as a sign that the writer cannot accept technological change and is mistakenly, nostalgically remembering the past as being smarter than it was. (And sometimes, maybe most times, that’s exactly how the writer comes off.) Saying the exact same things about TV – that it eats up too much of our time, paralyzes us with infinite choices, makes us passive, overloads us with meaningless information – has never carried the same stigma. But as I said, I think that’s partly because TV never became – for most people anyway – a necessary part of living and doing business, the way the internet is for many people.
Also, perhaps, there’s a selection bias here: attacks on one media tend to be most prominent in another, separate medium. So TV-bashing was most common in print and, before Hollywood studios accepted TV, in the movies. But print has been integrated with the internet for a long time now, and it just looks silly to bash the internet in a piece that is being read on the internet.
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 4:20 PM - 0 Comments
On Tuesday, independent Canadian ISP Teksavvy announced its new service plans, effectively dropping the other shoe in the long-running usage-based internet billing debate. While on the surface there are some things to like, at the core the new plans–and regulatory system they’re based on–paint a disturbing picture of the future of Canada’s Internet.
The CRTC set things in motion in November with its government-ordered revisit of the issue and came up with something called capacity-based billing, a sort of diet UBB. In essence, instead of large network owners charging indie ISPs for every byte their customers download, the new system requires the smaller companies to buy chunks of capacity based on how much they think they’re going to need on a monthly basis.
As Jesse Brown noted on this site earlier this week, while some commentators praised the decision, others–including Teksavvy–said the regulator screwed things up again. While the system itself was okay, the fees that a few big network owners are allowed to charge through it were way too high, the company said, which will inevitably result in price increases for customers.
All eyes have since been on Teksavvy, one of the largest and most vocal of the UBB opponents, to see what it would do. In the end, the company’s new plans and the accompanying explanation are something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, most existing plans are going up by $3 to $4, which fits the predictions by some observers that the CRTC’s ruling would push up rates by 10 to 15 per cent. The issue, as Teksavvy puts it, is that while its fixed costs actually went down somewhat thanks to the decision, the variable ones can potentially go up significantly. The company’s pricing notice reads:
If left to stand, these prices will ensure that residential Internet service prices will increase dramatically as consumer usage at peak times increases… in the face of the recent decision, we have to modestly adjust our rates.
On this front, if Teksavvy is to be believed and the rate increases are essentially going to further compensate network providers, the impact of capacity-based is the same as the intended effect of usage-based billing: Prices for consumers are going up.
On the plus side, Teksavvy is now officially offering higher speeds–up to 24 megabits per second–with usage limits that are generally much more generous than those of the incumbents at significantly lower prices. As many people pointed out on Twitter, even with the price increases, the company’s plans are still way better than what can be found elsewhere.
But there are plenty of downsides as well. For one, Teksavvy has introduced the concept of non-peak usage–meaning that customers can download all they want in the wee hours of the night without it counting against their caps. Some observers call this “innovative,” but it may well be the first step down a slippery slope. It heralds a future where internet usage is further compartmentalized–if it starts with file-sharing overnight, how long till someone makes it more expensive to watch online video in the evening, or call on Skype during the afternoon? Not only can this approach become confusing, it can also become expensive and limiting.
The only countries I know of that have adopted such non-peak usage concepts are Australia and New Zealand, both of which are in the process of building multi-billion-dollar next-generation fibre networks because their telco monopolies have failed to provide decent infrastructure on their own. The two countries, along with Iceland and Canada, are also the only ones where unlimited usage plans are uncommon if not completely absent. As I’ve pointed out before, one those countries (cough, Canada, cough) is unlike all the others. As far as anyone can tell, in fact, Canada is not an isolated island that must buy capacity on cables that run under the ocean.
Is the idea of compartmentalized internet service–where Canadians can only watch Netflix or other online video in the early hours of the morning for fear of exceeding their caps– an absurdist notion? It is indeed. It portends a dystopian scenario, which may or may not come true, but would be just as absurd as imposing a capacity-based billing scheme in response to congestion problems that large network owners have yet to prove exist.
It’s also thoroughly absurd to suggest that limiting how Canadians use the Internet–rather than expanding their use of it–is in any way “innovative.”
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 4:11 PM - 0 Comments
Last November the CRTC killed Usage Based Billing, the pricing scheme imposed by Canada’s telecom giants on small independent Internet providers that threatened the existence of unlimited (and high limit) download plans. When the news came, the 500,000+ Canadians who had protested against UBB celebrated their victory over big business. That lasted for about a minute.
Almost instantly, indie ISP’s pooped on their own party. Sure, UBB was dead, but what was it to be replaced with? A “capacity” based pricing scheme that seems fair in principle, but which breaks down when you get to the actual numbers–tariffs set by the same big ISPs without any transparency. These rates varied wildly between providers, suggesting that the big players would still find a way to gouge the little guys out of existence, while keeping unmetered internet out of reach for Canadians. Teksavvy, one of the biggest little guys, called the CRTC’s new plan an “unfortunate step back for Canadian consumers.”
In fact, when I interviewed George Burger, TekSavvy’s formidable representative, he all but suggested that the new pricing scheme would kill OTT (Over The Top Television) altogether. It was too soon to provide numbers, but the implication was that indie ISP customers were about to see their bills skyrocket.
That may have been an overly grim projection. Today, Teksavvy announced its new rates, adjusted to reflect the CRTC’s new pricing scheme. Most customers will pay $3 to 4 dollars a month more for unlimited plans or plans capped at 300 gigs a month (Teksavvy’s most popular plans).
It’s a sizeable bump, but nowhere close to the gouging that would have occurred under UBB. If “cord-cutting” indie ISP customers who get their TV and phone through the internet suddenly saw their rates double or triple, they may have gone running back to the big boys for landlines and cable boxes. But three or four bucks a month seems like a reasonable fee for a one-pipe solution to your every telecom need. What’s more, Teksavvy is turning their own meter off each night during off-peak hours. No matter what plan you’re on, you can download to your heart’s content while your neighbours sleep.
In other words, the unmetered Internet is alive and well in Canada for those who want it. Teksavvy’s bigger problem is that not enough Canadians seem to want it. Or, if they want it, they don’t know where to get it. All of the indie ISPs combined still only hold about five per cent of the market in Canada.
Perhaps Teksavvy (and the other small players) should have done a better job of using UBB’s defeat to make themselves known to the greater public and woo those 500,000+ protesters (and anybody else) over to their services. The media won’t likely pay the same amount of attention to small ISPs again. They could have used their victory to pitch their wares to the overwhelming majority of Canadians who are using more bandwidth than ever.
After all, unlimited access is not just for us BitTorrenting “bandwidth hogs” anymore. As mainstream services like Netflix get bigger, more and more non-geek Canadians are being hit with big overage fees. The only thing holding many of them back from switching to an unlimited plan is a lack of awareness that these plans exist. That, or a general sense that indie ISPs are only for the technologically savvy.
I wonder where they get that idea from?
By Julia Belluz - Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 10:49 AM - 0 Comments
Radiation can give life and take it away. Sunlight, therapy to kill malignant tumors, powerful x-rays, and radio waves are all forms of radiation. Lately, much has been made of the health risks related to another source of invisible waves: WiFi.
In recent years, politicians and leaders in the health field have tried to do something about the perceived threat of exposure to radio-frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields, on which WiFi, cell phone networks, radio signals, microwave ovens, and cordless home phones depend. Public fears about RF fields may have hit a fever pitch when, last summer, the World Health Organization designated them as a “possibly carcinogenic” agent—alongside others like coffee—for which evidence of harm is uncertain. Since then, we’ve heard our nation’s doctors raise concerns about the health risks related to cell phones; politicians, such as Elizabeth May, warn publicly about the potential harms posed by WiFi; and frightened parents say they’d move their children away from the invisible threat, as schools impose bans on wireless internet.
But what do we actually know about the health effects of RF exposure—and, in particular, the health risks related to WiFi?
Different technologies give off different amounts of radiation, explained Dr. Patrizia Frei (PhD), a research fellow at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, who has conducted reviews on the health effects of RF exposure. “While mobile phones cause mostly localized exposure to the head,” she said, “WiFi usually causes far-field whole-body exposures which are usually much lower.” According to the UK’s Health Protection Agency, “the signals are very low power, typically 0.1 watt (100 milliwatts) in both the computer and the router (access point), and the results so far show exposures are well within the internationally-accepted guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.”
By Jesse Brown - Friday, December 23, 2011 at 5:07 PM - 0 Comments
This week, Bell Canada, announced that it will cease its long-standing practice of throttling (stunting the speed of) BitTorrent traffic. Throttling has been a controversial practice of Internet providers–one that Bell has long argued it absolutely needs to do in order to stop “bandwidth hogs” from slowing speeds for everyone (only in Canada’s competition-deprived telecom industry would a company actually call its own customers “hogs” for using too much of the service they provide).
So why did Bell have such a radical change of heart? Continue…
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
For background on this potentially Internet-breaking bill, see my last post on the subject.
How much does the Internet hate America’s proposed Stop Online Piracy Act? A LOT.
In anticipation of a congressional hearing on the bill on Thursday, online activists are mobilizing in a big way: Continue…
By Peter Nowak - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 4:37 PM - 4 Comments
Last week, I had the honour of speaking at the Online Educa conference in Berlin, an annual meeting of education professionals that this year attracted 2,000 visitors from more than 100 countries. Conference organizers have put up a video of my speech, which was about how food technology is driving economic growth in the developing world and, as a consequence, the collective demand for education there.
I also had the pleasure of participating in a debate on technological developments and their effects on privacy and learning. My teammate Peter Bowers, a teacher in the U.K., and I had the task of arguing against the following statement:
This house expresses its concern about the effect developments in technology are increasingly having on personal liberty and believes this will have serious consequences for learning in the future.
On Thursday, before the debate, I wrote about how I thought the statement was indefensible; that technology enabled liberty and therefore learning like no other force on the planet. While true, the debate was ultimately quite lively and resulted in an almost even split among the audience. Alas, our side lost by a narrow margin.