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What is OpenMedia.ca? Eriko Furukawa
The student-run, non-profit OpenMedia.ca group at SFU is dedicated to increase awareness of media issues in Canada and in turn promoting an open and democratic communications system.
Our main goal is to increase public participation in Canadian media and telecommunication policy formation. We believe that an open media system is essential to our democracy, and in order to do so we need an open and innovative communications system with increased transparency of media with broader and more representative public participation. In order to do so, the OpenMedia.ca network seeks to advance fundamental democratic principles which would effectively guide media, communication and cultural policy making in Canada. The OpenMedia.ca network is brought together by the principles of access, choice, diversity, innovation and openness in internet and communication systems that we seek to promote. OpenMedia.ca is the organization that coordinates the ongoing SaveOurNet.ca coalition, promoting Net Neutrality and the right for all Canadians to have access to an open internet. That is, it is necessary to stop lobbyists and special interest groups from taking control over Canada’s internet system by discriminating against certain types of content and traffic. OpenMedia.ca also runs the Fresh Media project, where the main objective is to support independent journalism and innovative media. The SFU OpenMedia.ca student group will be holding campus events, fundraising programs, educational workshops, and presentations to inform the university community about national media issues and our ongoing projects.
SFU OpenMedia Student’s Club July 2010
“the FCC is no longer allowed to impose net neutrality regulations, giving the ISPs within the sector a free reign to throttle.”
The Battle for Net Neutrality in the US page 2
“their excitement quickly turned to trepidation.”
Sociology on the Brave New Media at UBC page 4
We will be tabling every second Wednesday, in the AQ near the art gallery; make sure to come by if you would like to know more about our projects and get involved. We are also currently holding meetings every second Thursday where the group will get together and discuss event planning and current media issues. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get to know more about the OpenMedia.ca group at SFU.
Upcoming Events and Projects page 3
FCC VS ISPs:
Umair Amjad Riaz
The Battle for Network Neutrality in the United States
After losing an important legal battle the FCC is trying to quickly take steps in order to circumvent the threat to Network Neutrality in the United States. A ‘third-way’ to regulate ISP was proposed, which is now facing many barriers for implementation, one being the members of Congress who are forcing the FCC to abandon its plan to regulate Internet Service Providers.
On April 6th 2010 the federal court in Washington D.C. ruled that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory body for Communications in America) had no legal authority to impose net neutrality regulations on to Internet Service Providers. The ruling was handed out in response to the FCC’s punishment of Comcast, a major ISP in the United State, when it was caught throttling BitTorrent traffic. The communications regulatory body under its own mandate had no regulatory authority to penalize Comcast, as the FCC has classified DSL broadband service under Title I as an “information service” rather than under Title II “telecommunication service.” What that essentially meant was that under the information service category the FCC is not allowed to physically regulate the workings of ISPs, so if an ISP was throtopenletter page 2 tling the FCC was out its mandated jurisdiction to stop or punish the ISP. The ruling made by the court has threatened net neutrality in the United States as the FCC is no longer allowed to impose net neutrality regulations, giving the ISPs within the sector a free reign to throttle. To circumvent the threat to Net Neutrality, the FCC’s chairman Julius Genachowski proposed a ‘third way’ regulatory mandate, which would allow the FCC to monitor the transmission component of Internet access. This way the FCC controls issues regarding throttling, but cannot and will not monitor information being transmitted over the lines. As stated by the FCC commissioner Julius Genachowski in a statement May 6th 2010: “ …the approach is narrow. It will treat
only the transmission component of broadband access service as a telecommunications service while preserving the longstanding consensus that the FCC should not regulate the Internet, including web-based services and applications, e-commerce sites, and online content.” With the “third way” proposal, the FCC believes it will have the authority to write and enforce rules that would protect consumers and Internet content providers from restrictions imposed by broadband providers. As outlined in the above-mentioned statement the third-way approach will: • • Recognize the transmission component of broadband access service--and only this component--as a telecommunications service;” Apply only a handful of provisions of Title II (Sections 201, 202, 208, 222, 254, and 255) that, prior to the Comcast decision, were widely believed to be within the Commission’s purview for broadband; Simultaneously renounce--that is, forbear from-application of the many sections of the Communications Act that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service; and Put in place up-front forbearance and meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach.
But there is much to standing in their way, the “third way” proposal has to go through congress, where many its members are asking the FCC to reevaluate its plans. As the FCC looks for clarification from congress, it will be seeking comments from the public till July 15th 2010 at broadband.gov. This matter raises issues as to how Canada should deal with its network neutrality issues, are there lessons that the Canadian regulatory body CRTC can learn from this case? Right now the onus of reporting ISP throttling to the CRTC is on the consumer, as the regulatory body does not directly monitor throttling. Shouldn’t CRTC become more proactive regarding monitoring and making sure that throttling does not take place in order to protect the Canadian consumer. Should the CRTC become more hands-on regarding network neutrality? Whatever happens next regarding the FCC’s mandate, the outcome will have a major impact on future net neutrality issues, not only in the US but in other countries as well. A link to see an interview with the FCC chairman explaining the “third-way” approach: http://news.cnet. com/8301-13578_3-20001825-38.html?tag=mncol;txt
Upcoming Events and Projects
The OpenMedia.ca club has been busy with planning a variety of projects and events! Here is an update of what we’re currently working on, and some future events coming up. We will be starting to do University Presentations! These will be 5 minute presentations where OpenMedia.ca club members will go into classrooms, inform students about media issues in Canada and what OpenMedia.ca/the club does. In September, we plan on going doing 60-75 minute High School workshops, these will be on the topic of Internet, democracy and Net Neutrality. There will be a training session in end of July/beginning of August. If you are interested in getting involved, please let us know! We’re also planning OpenMedia.ca club social/networking events that we want to put on this summer. The details are still being worked out, so stay tuned for our next Newsletter for details on these events! Week of Welcome! We have signed up to be part of SFU’s Week of Welcome. This is a welcome party for new and returning community members during the first week of classes in the fall term. We’ll be planning soon what kind of fun events we want to host. openletter page 3
OpenMedia at UBC
Sociology on Brave New Media at UBC
These were the questions on my mind when I ventured deep into the heart of UBC’s ANSO building to attend the Sociology Mini-Conference on Monday, June 21. If any academic group were to comprehend threats to net neutrality, independent journalism, and the state of Canada’s media-environment, it would be the sociologists. After all, inequality is at the heart of their studies and, of all the disciplines offered at UBC, Sociology would be most in-touch with modern social issues, right? Among those in attendance were a handful of gradstudents, each presenting their papers in a dry-run, to be critiqued by their peers, a few out-of-town sociology Profs, and UBC’s Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology, David Tindall. There was a ten-minute break mid-conference, and some brief socialization afterwards, during which I managed to stop three of the grad-students, and Dr.Tindall himself, for a few questions. I was the only non-sociologist there, sticking out like a sore thumb with my OpenMedia vest and binder, and am very thankful for their time and courteous nature. Having first asked if independent media was important for Canada’s democracy, I was encouraged by all four respondents’ enthusiasm for alternative journals, Al Jazeera, etc. However, when I popped the question in a local context, asking whether UBC would benefit from alternatives to mainstream campus papers like the AMS Insider or the Ubyssey, their excitement quickly turned to trepidation. Each faculty member assured me that mainstream journals were all that was openletter page 4
needed at UBC, that only these would provide quality information, and Dr. Tindall even admitted that “…UBC is fairly removed from journalism…” and that he was “… out of touch with undergraduate publications.” My confidence continued to fade as I discovered that only one of the grad students was aware of website throttling and that nobody had heard of OpenMedia, let alone Save-Our-Net, all this even when two of the five studies presented at the conference had relied exclusively on the internet for datagathering! These are frightening facts for someone wanting to start an Openmedia Club at UBC, and who had just spent the last week plastering the University campus with flyers about Net Neutrality.
However discouraging, the opinions of the Sociology Conference have but emphasized the need for Openmedia at UBC. The academic community must be informed about media issues; about the need for independent journalism in Canada. My interviewees’ fears that independent media on-campus will undermine the academic community must be replaced with an assurance of true media-democracy on campus! After all, how can two AMS-run university papers account for all 40 000 views of the community? Check out the UBC Openmedia forum and mailing list at: http:// groups.google.ca/group/openmediaubc or email me at email@example.com for the latest on Openmedia at UBC!
Photo (cc) Jason Rowe
Why is the UBC community so sterile? Where are all the independent voices; the controversial ideas; the underground media? Is the academic community out of touch with independent media? How aware are UBC’s alumni of contemporary media issues?
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