Mark Goldberg

Fox Group Dispatch

Regulation of the Internet in Canada

Earlier in the year, the CRTC concluded its public consultations under both the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act regarding the range of communications and information services referred to as “new media.” On May 17, 1999, the Commission agreed that there is no need for it to be involved in regulating the Internet.

Hands Off!
The Commission concluded that the majority of services now available on the Internet consist predominantly of alphanumeric text, and, therefore, do not fall within the scope of the Broadcasting Act and are thus outside the Commission’s jurisdiction. For those new media services that do fall under the definition of broadcasting, the Commission has concluded that regulation is not necessary to achieve the objectives of the Broadcasting Act. It has therefore determined that the CRTC will not regulate new media activities on the Internet under the Broadcasting Act.

Further, the Commision found that there was no apparent shortage of Canadian content on the Internet today. As such, it determined that there is no reason for to impose regulatory measures to stimulate development of Canadian content in the world of new media.

Equal Access
The Commission has set an official policy of providing open access to high speed internet access facilities used by cable companies and telephone companies for their affiliated internet service providers.

The CRTC has become one of the world’s first regulators to clearly enunciate a “hands off” policy toward the Internet – allowing market forces to drive development of content and increase levels of accessibility for users. While the CRTC has expressed concern about offensive content on the Internet, it concluded that the Broadcasting Act is not the appropriate tool to apply and instead suggests generally-applicable Canadian laws, coupled with self-regulatory initiatives as alternatives to curb the problem.

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