Thursday, February 03, 2011

Paranoid election coverage in 3 ..2...

Post-holiday grudge match interrupted to bring you my paranoid musings on the recent decision regarding usage based billing, UBB in Canada. On the surface, the decision seems strange considering the usual position taken by the Harper government on issues of technology and net neutrality. But they do have something to gain.

1. The copyright issue in Canada has long been a thorn in the side of Harper conservatives. Not just the Act itself, but the sheer passion and publicity with which opposition to proposed changes was voiced. The people who care about DRM, media shifting, Mashups and new business innovation are likely the same folks who are pissed about UBB. The conservatives stand to gain by making nice.

2. By coming out on the side of consumer protections, the Harper conservatives stand to appear to be less in the pocket of major corporate donors as previously surmised. They still are, but shifting the focus from oil to the internet is smart. One is sexy, the other is just not.

3. This subtly proves the point that governing bodies like the CRTC don’t work and should be done away with. This is step one in a ‘we don’t need you anymore’ move on the part of our current minority government to abolish a Canadian regulator. That doesn’t just please officials who believe in small government, it pleases Telcos immensely.

I’m sure there are more, but on the surface, these three points have me convinced that the whole thing was an orchestrated attack on the CRTC from our government itself. Why? Well, when we compare the outcome of a nuclear regulator advising the government that a site had to shut down and other whistleblower stories to the current situation; and when we consider the heavy-handedness with which the current PMO controls other offices, I can’t imagine the initial decision was taken without Harper being involved somehow. I can’t prove and I’m not going to waste time trying. It’s just the most believable story in my head right now.

Personally, I disagree with many decisions by the CRTC, and I agree with many others. Rather than work to make it irrelevant, I’d rather make it robust, bolster its independence.

It’s February, the time of planning and looking forward to spring. If there is an election this year, let’s give Parliament – and the CRTC – a much needed makeover.