An Open Letter to the Government of Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

17 May 2021

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

We are Canadian Internet policy and technical professionals, writing as concerned experts and on behalf of all those who care about the future of a free and open Internet. We call on you to stop harming the Internet, the freedoms and aspirations of every individual in this country, and our knowledge economy through overreaching regulatory policies that will have significant, yet unintended consequences for the free and open Internet in Canada.

Now more than ever, all members of Canadian society rely on the Internet. A recent series of proposals and actions taken by your government threaten to adversely impact our freedom to access online content of our choice, to post legal content without fear of censorship, and even risk disrupting the technical infrastructure of the Internet. Such proposals include amendments to the Broadcasting Act in Bill C-10, forthcoming online harms legislation, and proposals from both the CRTC and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to block content at the network level.

We understand that some online regulation may be necessary, and that policies need to be updated. But decisions about Canada’s Internet policy can’t be taken lightly – they have social, economic and cultural implications and could harm the technical foundation that makes the Internet work for everyone.

We urge you to carefully consider decisions through consultation and impact assessments to avoid negative implications for individuals, our economy, and our democracy. More than ever, we need evidence-based policies that reflect the interests of every individual in this country – not rushed, politically-driven processes that respond only to those of a few.

We believe that the Internet should remain an open, globally-connected and secure resource for everyone – a model that Canada has historically supported and championed. This is underpinned by open participation and collaboration, both of which have helped Canada earn global recognition as a digital leader.

However, it appears that Canada is not immune to the growing trend of government intervention to curtail freedom, and seek to control parts of the Internet’s infrastructure, in ways reminiscent of actions taken by authoritarian governments.

In 2017 you committed to protecting an open Internet and net neutrality. Late last year you pledged to connect 98% of households in Canada to high speed Internet by 2026. Why is your government now making uninformed decisions that threaten to undermine the Internet and innovation in Canada?

We ask you and your team to pause and take the time to study the harmful implications of recently tabled Internet policies and regulations. We are happy and available to assist in this process.

Sincerely,

Andy Kaplan-Myrth, VP, Regulatory & Carrier Affairs, TekSavvy Solutions Inc.
Bianca Wylie, Tech Reset Canada
Bill Graham, Retired ICANN Director
Christopher Parsons, Senior Research Associate, The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto
Professor David Lyon, Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s University
Professor David Murakami Wood, Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s University
Dwayne Winseck, Professor, School of Journalism & Communication & Director of the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project
Fen Osler Hampson, FRSC, Chancellor’s Professor, Carleton University
Gordon Smith, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Irene S. Berkowitz, PhD
Konrad von Finckenstein Q.C., Former Chairman of CRTC, Former Commissioner of Competition
Laura Tribe, Executive Director, OpenMedia
Leonard St-Aubin, Consultant, Former Director General, Telecommunications Policy, Industry Canada
Leslie Regan Shade, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Lex Gill, Lawyer, Affiliate at The Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
Madeleine Redfern, COO, CanArctic Inuit Networks, Iqaluit, Nunavut
Mark Buell, Regional Vice President, Internet Society
Matt Stein, CEO Distributel, Chair of Competitive Network Operators of Canada
Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa
Nasma Ahmed, Digital Justice Lab
Philip Palmer, Lawyer, Ottawa
Ronald Deibert, Professor of Political Science and Director, The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto
Timothy Denton, LLM, Chairman, Internet Society Canada Chapter, Former National Commissioner, CRTC, 2009-2013
Vivek Krishnamurthy, Samuelson-Glushko Professor of Law, University of Ottawa
Twelvedoc Inc.
Tech Reset Canada
Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)
Tucows Inc.
Internet Society Manitoba Chapter (in formation)

For practical resources on how to make sure policies protect the foundation of the Internet, please visit the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit.