Bell

Censorship Proposed

As you may or may not know, several companies have formed a lobby group called FairPlay Canada in order to block certain sites deemed to contain pirated material.

This group proposes the creation of a non-profit entity called the Independent Piracy Review Agency to administer this blocking “under the supervision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to help prevent international piracy sites and organizations from reaching and harming Canada’s creative economy”, as stipulated in a January 29th, 2018 application to the CRTC (PDF). But numerous issues in regards to this were brought up by Openmedia, including issues related to censorship and Net Neutrality. And one has to wonder who will be paying for this initiative.

Personally I have concerns about any entity being tasked with blocking sites because of what happened in July 2005, when Telus decided to block a pro-union website and blocked over 760 sites that just happened to share this pro-union website’s server “by accident”.

A preliminary injunction was required to force Telus to stop blocking these sites and although the proposal attempts to ease these concerns by saying the “system would have extensive checks and balances”, one has to wonder why members of this “trustworthy” group would refuse to air advertisements on this issue from Openmedia and use other tactics like that discovered by blogger Michael Geist.

Do we really want these people to block legal content that happens to be on servers where pirated recordings can be found? Can we be guarantied prompt responses to sites that were unduly blocked? And how exactly would they address the use of Virtual Private Networks, that can used to bypass blocking? Will they claim those services facilitate piracy, blocking them with no real consideration to their legitimate use?

In 2016 legal music streaming profits in Canada went up a whopping 144.9% and legal music downloads remain one of the primary sources of music for Canadians according to Music Canada. And the Nielsen Music 360 survey and BuzzAngle Music confirmed more Canadians are using these legal services in 2017 so people are clearly being lured away from the illegal services this proposal attempts to address.

The use of smartphones to stream music grew in this country according to a September 2017 report issued by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (PDF) ; From 40% in 2016 to 52% in 2017. And Netflix and other streaming services have successfully convinced many would be pirates to use their services instead so why would we need to open this pandora’s box?

Blocking sites will in no way cause recording artists to gain more royalties from the legal streaming services and address what Music Canada calls “The Value Gap“. And the premise of forcing people to attend hearings to keep their sites available to the public is absurd.

Most CRTC hearings are held in Gatineau, Quebec yet the proposal does not discuss where these other hearings might happen or if legal recourses would be made available to those who were forced to incur costs to defend themselves from false accusations. I guess we’re all supposed to subscribe to false dilemmas and presume everything will work out fine.

If you would like to file an intervention with the CRTC, you can do so by clicking here by 8pm Eastern, March 29th, 2018.

Bye Bye Shomi

Rogers Communications has announced that they will be closing Shomi, their film streaming service, on November 30th, 2016.

Frankly, i’m not that surprised. It had initially been a good service but the rotation of films slowed down and I rarely watched more than three films per month on the service over the spring and summer.

The remaining services, Netflix and CraveTV are a little less pitiful when it comes to content but i’m refusing to subscribe to anything less than a service like Netflix in the states. And the disproportionate monthly usage fees most of us Canadians are subjected too are a major turnoff as well so Shomi may not be the first to go.

Cyberbullying vs Privacy

Bell Canada customers have just received noticed stating their internet bills will be raised by $5 per month, effective June 1st,2014. And of course people who are unaware of the issue would not know why I have just mentioned this in relation to cyberbullying and privacy.

Unfortunately people are unaware that Bill C-13 calls for an extensive amount of record keeping in relation to cyberbullying and other crimes than can be performed online. And this will require equipment and staffing by internet providers, whose associated costs will be handed down to customers.

As a victim of harassment online you might think that I would support such a measure but the costs to Canadians is not only limited to these higher rates. Bill C-13 proposes questionable leniencies in regards to privacy and even cyberbullying victims like Carol Todd are concerned about privacy :

“I don’t want to see our children to be victimized again by losing privacy rights. I am troubled by some of these provisions condoning the sharing of Canadians’ privacy information without proper legal process.” – Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd.

Carol Todd has asked a Parliament committee on Bill C-13 to separate to more controversial portions of the bill to "allow this bill to be free of controversy and to permit a thoughtful and careful review of the privacy related provisions that have received broad opposition". And I agree because these more questionable parts of the bill may be challenged legally, causing the whole bill to fail.

Harassment should be addressed as should the distribution of illegal photographs and video recordings. But other issues have been added to the bill to justify the loss of privacy and none of the proponents of this bill appear to want to address the possibly failures in the technicalities of this bill.

In interview after interview they deny it will cost Canadians their privacy yet are unable to explain why certain parts of the bill cannot be rewritten to address the concerns.

Warrants can be invalidated in law if certain conditions are not met and this bill proposes that no warrants are required to collect, share and store information, circumventing the conditions imposed on warrants. 

Warrants in no way facilitate luring and the creation and distribution of child pornography so why is it necessary to bypass warrants ? And warrants can address cases of cyberbullying that involve death threats, threats of bodily harm and threats to property because of our current criminal code.

Internet providers can also implement their own policing on other cases by enforcing their own terms of service agreements on their customers, some of which restrict the use of their services to impede the use of the internet by others and include provisions allowing them to provide information to the authorities when a crime is alleged.

Could they not restrict the use of their services to send unsolicited requests for a recipient’s suicide or threats involving the distribution of an image or recording of the recipient ? Could they not state that such acts would result in information being shared with law enforcement, with or without an account holder’s consent or knowledge ?

As a person who has never asked someone to commit suicide or threatened someone with death, bodily harm or with the distribution of an image or recording, my privacy would remain intact under a split Bill C-13. And a guilty party would be convicted under the conditions of a properly issued warrant, without the more controversial portions of the bill, so why am I being asked to sacrifice my privacy ? 

Free Television Online ? Tou.tv Update.

Francophone service Tou.tv has decided to offer extra content to their subscriber. But again it appears that some people will get this content free and some people will need to pay $6.99 per month for the service.

Now rebranded as ici.tou.tv, the Radio-Canada affiliate will offer their extra content free to Telus and Rogers subscribers but this commercial free content will only be available as a subscription to everyone else.

Personally I used the service to catch up on Radio-Canada Television programs La Facture, L’épicerie, Découverte and La Semaine Verte whenever I missed an episode of these series. But now I don’t know if the service will remain accessible on my Smart TV, as is, or if it will only be able to access a few episodes because I am not on Telus or Rogers.

The site is currently in beta so details are light. But it appears that users might already be limited to one or two seasons worth of episodes online.

I have checked the recordings for the aforementioned series and they appear to be limited to the most recent season, which is acceptable. But hopefully they are not considering further cuts to the free content.

I have noticed that they have added quite a few Pierre Richard films so I’m a bit tempted to take advantage of their $3.49 offer, which is valid for three months. And I’m sure if they were to offer more films from TV5, TFO and Telé Québec I would possibly consider subscribing. But I’m guessing they will take some time to get the site up and running at full speed.

Bell’s Fibe TV – Wait !

I’ve been on this service for two months now and when it comes to the television side of the service I’m quite happy.

It’s slightly cheaper than cable, the reception is pretty consistent and though time shifting is no included in the basic package, there is pretty much no need for it because of the video recorder.

Well, of course you’ve read the title of this article and know what word is coming up…. BUT !

BUT when it comes to internet I have been subjected to an issue that I think everyone should be made aware of.

During the month of August I had been noticing that my internet transfers would just stop.

I couldn’t load a page or random item so I assumed from what I had read online that my D-Link Powerline devices were failing. And I decided to go wireless until I got a wired network up to my second floor.

Then the wireless started failing.

The connection rate was high but the transfer rates started dropping erratically. And when I decided to stream an HD video from a USB stick I have connected to the back of the Bell branded Segamcom modem it worked fine.

I had never had this issue on the Fibe 12 service so I was perplexed. How could I be connecting to my local devices, including an NAS, and getting such miserable service from the internet ?

“Sync No Surf”

Apparently this issue has plagued some Segamcom modem users for years, on Bell, Teksavvy and other internet providers.

Also known as “ping no browse”, this issue causes users to be unable to surf even when they are able to use their connection to ping hosts to see if they’re active.

It can cause most users to be unable to surf for a minute to fifteen minutes and can cause modems to reboot themselves. But it also doesn’t happen to every user of a particular model of modem, which has puzzled technicians for years.

A firmware upgrade is scheduled from October to January at Bell so if you’re thinking about joining Bell Fibe ask if their modems have had their firmware upgraded before joining. And state that you are concerned about “sync no surf”.

I’ve had to inform myself of this issue independently from their tech service, who have had me reboot my modem repetitively and have had numerous technicians over to check my line, to no avail.

Save yourself the hassle and shop around.

CRTC Denies Bell’s Bid To Purchase Astral

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has denied Bell Canada’s $3.4 billion takeover of media giant Astral.

Bell had planned to acquire them in order to provide content through their networks and internet services. But there was some concern in regards to access to this content by the competition.

Though some believe Bell may shelf their plan to offer a Netflix type service because of this decision, I believe they will eventually offer this service to compete with Shaw Go, a service offered by Shaw Communications.

Bell Canada has stated they will contest the decision by requesting “the federal cabinet to direct the CRTC to actually follow its own in-place policy”. But they have since been advised that the Federal Court of Appeal may be their only legal recourse.