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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Columnist: Regulate the Internet? Shut down the broadcast regulator instead!

David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen does not think much of the Canadian broadcast regulator's proposal to censor the Internet:
This week, the CRTC announced its intention to break the promise made by its then-chairperson, Françoise Bertrand, in 1999: "Our message is clear. We are not regulating any portion of the Internet." In a "notice of consultation and hearing" on Wednesday, the commission suddenly gave Dec. 5 as its deadline for submissions about expanding the CRTC's jurisdiction into "new media."

That this announcement was made by the CRTC, rather than by Parliament, is an indication of the degree to which the CRTC is a law unto itself.

[ ... ]

The regulator has created a strict broadcasting environment in which Christian and all other views that do not conform to political correctness are effectively kept under siege. The left hungers for the ability to create a similar tightly regulated environment on the Internet, to bring the free reporting and opinions of bloggers and other citizen-journalists under its ideological jackboot.
More boldly, Warren does not believe that CRTC should even exist:
Advances in technology have made it less and less necessary to impose rationing on the airwaves. We have got beyond the “rabbit ears” age. Digital technology for cable and satellite have moved far beyond this, and the Internet itself becomes capable of delivering a range of material unimagined only a generation ago. Nor is telephony what it was in past generations. The CRTC is a fossil relic from an antediluvian era.

By all means keep its archives in a museum, so that our children’s children may some day see how charmingly primitive our technology once was -- in the “CReTaCeous” period of our national life, when such big blundering bureaucratic behemoths as this superannuated regulator roamed the electronic plains. But it is time now for the CRTC to become extinct.
But the passion for government regulation is overwhelming in Canada, and it will be easy for interested parties to manufacture a "crisis" that justifies intervention.

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