[NA-Discuss] Canadian Digital Policy

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Sun Nov 4 22:59:47 UTC 2012

> i supported michael's candidacy to join cira's board, and prior to his
> election (there were significant numbers of votes cast) the difference
> in policy [...]

after his election i expect things to improve, increasing the policy
> difference between the .ca and {.us|.pr} namespaces, which imho is a
> good thing.

The role that CIRA has played in the change of political attitude towards
Canada's internet governance is truly negligible.

Long before this broad policy shift CIRA was one one of the best run ccTLD
operators, with an unabashedly thick WHOIS, personal privacy controls.
residency requirements and open publishing of soon-to-be-expiring domains.
All .ca registrants are eligible to vote in elections. CIRA policy has in
fact changed very little in the last few years and had always been pretty
good, so Geist's entry will not likely bring with it any seismic shifts

Indeed, the changes referred to in the Star article have not one shred to
do with domain names, which in the grand scheme of things are but a tiny
part of the Internet-focused public interest. They relate mainly to
different approaches to IP-related law, treaties, and most important
ownership issues. The trend started in 2009 when the CRTC (the Canadian
equivalent to the FCC) effectively relaxed foreign ownership limits on
telcos, opening the door to some minimal -- but still welcome --
competition for the established homegrown ologopoly. This kind of foreign
partnership hasn't existed in Canada since 2004, when Rogers bought out the
one-third stake AT&T had in its mobile business.

A more recent ownership-related issue was likely the catalyst for the Star
story, after the CRTC blocked the attempt by Bell to acquire Astral Media.
Even more surprising than the CRTC action was the refusal of the government
to intervene. The contrast between the Canadian blocking of Bell/Astral and
the American acceptance of Comcast/Universal is indeed striking.

While these are all positive events, the influence of CIRA on them was nil.
Far more a target of thanks/blame have been advocacy groups such as
openmedia.ca, which has singularly proven that Internet petitions can
indeed work. Michael has been an elequent speaker for the public interest,
but to actually turn talk into policy change the words required the help of
grassroots organizations such as OpenMedia, CIPPIC, and the community
access networks such as those that Gareth and Darlene are involved with.
This is about to be augmented by the formation of an English Canadian ISOC
chapter to complement the existing one in Québec.

- Evan

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