Vitali Berditchevski Discusses Net Neutrality with Law Times

June 13, 2017

Canada and the United States continue to diverge when it comes to the evolution of net neutrality policies. This growing difference was exemplified in April when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) shut down a Québec-based service which allowed customers to utilize some music-streaming services without fear of exceeding their mobile data plan. This decision reflected the CRTC’s policy which disallows preferential treatment for select websites or online services, therefore enforcing net neutrality. Shortly after this decision was made, the United States began moving towards dismantling their 2015 net neutrality rules.

Services which are centered around exemption, including the music-streaming service shut down by the CRTC and a similar service which was ordered to cease in 2015, form the CRTC’s evolving net neutrality stance on “differential pricing.” Supporters of the practice (which is known as “zero-rating”) argue that services such as these provide an affordable variety of selection for consumers. However, the CRTC stated that zero-rating works to negatively impact competition and innovation within the web sector and, as a result, is expected to be a focus of the CRTC’s net neutrality crackdown.

Torys associate Vitali Berditchevski weighed in on the nuances of the CRTC’s net neutrality policy and zero-rating with Law Times. Below is an excerpt from the article:

Vitali Berditchevski, a communications lawyer in the Toronto office of Torys LLP, says the CRTC policy carves out some situations when zero-rating or non-neutral Internet traffic management may still be acceptable for ISPs.

For example, he says bill checking or other administrative access to customer accounts could legitimately be zero-rated, while time-of-day price offers could pass muster under certain circumstances. Data throttling could also be acceptable when networks are operating under temporary capacity constraints, Berditchevski says.

“It’s not a blanket ban, although the default rule is that ISPs should be content-agnostic rather than choosing content,” he adds.

To read the full article, click here.

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