'The telecommunications companies are going to continue to act in this manner unless there is legislation in place to protect consumers.' - James Clancy
Ottawa (13 Dec. 2007) - Reacting to yet another example of a Canadian company violating network neutrality, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is calling on the Harper government for action.
U.S. net neutrality activist Lauren Weinstein has reported that Canadian telecommunications giant Rogers has begun to insert commercial messages into third-party web pages. The example he cites involves Rogers placing a commercial about its own Internet service in a Google search page.
In doing so Rogers is, in effect,"hijacking" its customers' web traffic, says the Los Angeles-based consultant. A screen capture clearly shows Rogers content, including personal information, inserted onto Google's home page.
"What the blazes is all that ISP-related verbiage taking up the top third of the page? Why would Google ever give an ISP permission to muddy up Google's public face that way?" Weinstein asks. "Google didn't give this ISP any such permission. The ISP simply decided to modify Google on their own."
A Rogers spokesperson has confirmed that they are testing this form of advertising.
Government action needed
"This is a blatant example of yet another violation of the net neutrality principle," says NUPGE president James Clancy.
"The telecommunications companies are going to continue to act in this manner unless there is legislation in place to protect consumers. Unfortunately, the Harper government appears unwilling to act on the matter."
Clancy's view is shared by Canadian internet law expert Michael Geist, who feels that the Rogers example "raises fundamental net neutrality concerns and appears to be a clear case of interfering" with content delivery. Offering an opt-out is not good enough, he says.
"The trend therefore continues. Canada trails the U.S. on the net neutrality legislative front, yet it has far more examples of how the dominant ISPs stand ready to interfere with neutral carriage of content and applications."
Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equally, regardless of origin, destination or the software used to create it.
What is considered one of the best known cases of net neutrality violation occurred during a dispute between Telus and their union. Telus blocked its Internet customers from visiting a website, Voices for Change, that was sympathetic to the striking Telus workers.
Not only did Telus cut access to the Voices for Change site but it also blocked access to 766 unrelated websites that were hosted on the same Florida based server. NUPGE