Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

The Open Internet is at Risk

End Monopolies | Bill C-11 | Net Neutrality | DRM

The Internet is broken because of widespread data collection and the lack of privacy.

The Internet at Risk

Undemocratic forces are working to destroy the Internet we know and love — a magical place of dank memes and video streams, the essential backbone we use to communicate with our loved ones, our families, and our government.

 

If they get their way, many of our favorite websites and services will be slowed to a crawl, and we'll end up with an “Internet” that looks more like cable TV — a boring, money-making machine for telecom giants.
OpenMedia
Broadband is a human right, the nervous system of the 21st century. It is far too important to be left up to the whims of monopolists building atop public infrastructure without any commitment to the public interest.
— Cory Doctorow — Activist, Author, and Journalist

We're Creating More Content Than Ever Before

We upload a lot of data to the Internet.

From the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated five exabytes of data. Now we produce five exabytes every two days…and the pace is accelerating.
Eric Schmidt in 2010

The Guardian reported in 2015 on the huge amount of data that is uploaded to the Internet on a regular basis:

  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • 500 million tweets are sent every day.
  • 30 billion WhatsApp messages are sent every day.
  • 40 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day.

Those numbers have only increased as has the numbers of people online.

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End Canada's Telecom Monopolies

Smash the monopoly! Sign the petition.

The scale of the July nationwide Rogers outage shows Canada can no longer tolerate monopolized private telecom companies that function without public accountability or oversight.
OpenMedia

No more monopolies: Demand Minister Champagne cut Big Telecom down to size! It's time to take a shot back at Rogers, Bell, and Telus.

Demand Minister Champagne end Internet and cell phone monopolies in Canada NOW! Sign the petition!

Canadians Pay Too Much

Canadians pay some of the highest cellular and Internet access rates in the world.

One-in-five Canadians cannot afford Internet or TV services.

PCMag noted in 2020 that Canadians are not offered the sub-$30 cellular plans easily available in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Instead, Canadian cellular companies only advertise their $80 plans. Cheaper plans are unadvertised and usually only available through the company's “low rate” carrier.

Small cellular operators (MVNOs) that would offer more reasonable rates are blocked from operating in Canada.

Internet No Longer a Luxury

Have recently tried to get off-line help from the tax department recently? The local CRA offices that dotted communities across Canada have closed shop, offering only regional or national offices. Phone lines are full.

Because access to the Internet is no longer a luxury, both the quality of service and the pricing needs to be addressed.

Most government and financial services are increasingly available only online. Companies force you to use PDF bills sent via email. Where available, paper bills via snail mail are seldom more than summaries.

Internet Access Rates Out of Line

Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the world for Internet access.

FIVE Times the Rate of Inflation

A CRTC 2014 hearing noted that Internet fees in Canada have increased at five times the rate of inflation.

A July 2021 study found that Internet prices rose 6% in Canada the previous year. That was prior to inflation rates rising in 2022 for the first time in 20 years.

Wireless

Wireless costs in Canada are out of line.

A 2020 report from Finland-based telecom research firm Rewheel found that Telus, Bell, and Rogers ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd most expensive amongst 168 wireless carriers operating in 48 countries around the world.
OpenMedia

Notice that Canada (far right) is the costliest per GB:

Total mobile service revenue per GB.

Telus billed me $100 for a few texts sent to the U.S. from my wife's cellphone. Their most expensive plan was $29.95 per year. She is no longer with Telus Mobility.

Broadband

Our wired Internet isn't much better: a 2022 study found that out of 135 countries, Canada ranks a dismal 103rd for lifetime broadband affordability.

Canadian internet prices are notoriously among the most expensive in the world. …Canadians currently pay an average of $102 per month for their home internet plan. That's well above the $25–85 that the vast majority (73%) report considering reasonable.

 

The majority of Canadians surveyed feel they are already overpaying for their internet plan each month and prices have risen 6.42% on average in the past year.
WhistleOut, July 2021

The CRTC is Pro-Industry

The current CRTC is not the same consumer-conscious watchdog it was under the previous chair, Jean-Pierre Blais.

Under the leadership of Ian Scott, a former Telus executive and self-described personal friend of Bell CEO Mirko Bibic, the CRTC has issued a rash of anti-consumer decisions that have led to more expensive prices for Canadians over the past few years.
OpenMedia

The decision to reverse the more favourable wholesale rates is only one of many anti-consumer decisions made by the current CRTC.

While the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) lowered wholesale rates larger carriers can charge internet service providers (ISPs) in August 2019, they reversed the decision in May 2021. The CRTC said the decision was erroneous.
MobileSyrup

The CRTC should be there to protect Canadians, not enrich companies already protected from foreign competition and enjoying 45% profit margins. Instead, the CRTC allowed telecoms to continue to overcharge.

[H]ealthy competition in the broadband sector is key to ensuring that all Canadians can benefit from all that the internet brings to our lives.
Competition Bureau

Sneaky Pricing Tricks

Telecoms use fine print in their contracts and sneaky pricing to confuse consumers and make it even harder to compare plans between providers.

Telus Got Greedy

Telus went to the industry-favouring CRTC to get permission to add an additional 1.5% to the bills of customers using credit cards.

The original intent of the court order that allowed charging credit card customers was based upon the claim that credit card costs were built into pricing and this change would lead to reduced costs for customers not using credit cards. Just like the added fees for retaining paper billing, this was another ploy to increase profitability at customer expense.

Credit card merchant fees are part of any business's expense and Telus is far more profitable than most. Only a monopoly would attempt such a sneaky move.

Learn more and Tell the CRTC: DON'T let Big Telecom tack on shady new fees!

MVNOs are Low Cost Alternatives

MVNOs are a significant factor in reducing cellphone prices.

What are the factors that determine mobile prices? Market concentration (no. of MNOs) has a statistically significant effect on 4G & 5G monthly and gigabyte prices. The higher the no. of MNOs the lower the price.
Rewheel

MVNOs Blocked

Canada's Liberal government is denying MVNOs the right to operate fully in Canada, preventing people from accessing low cost alternative cell phone carriers.

MVNOs are the key to cheaper cellphone prices. Sign the petition.

It's time our government STOPPED holding cell phone affordability out of our reach. SPEAK OUT to unlock cheaper, fairer cell phone plans NOW!

Sign the Petition

Demand that Ottawa lets MVNOs provide services fully in Canada.

Mergers Destroy Competition

Not only are MVNOs blocked, but the big telecoms are buying up smaller players.

These mergers eliminate competition, remove options for consumers and bring higher prices.

The root cause of the high Canadian wireless prices, as we shown in our 2019 study, is the fact that the Canadian wireless market is a de facto network duopoly.
Rewheel
Small internet providers say that Canada is about to break a system that was serving customers well.

 

Many smaller internet providers in Canada are likely to significantly increase their prices and lose customers or shut down.

 

The dream of more competition leading to better internet service for Canadians is on life support.
The New York Times

Canadian Internet Quality Varies Widely

The speed and bandwidth available to Canadians varies mainly between urban and rural areas but also between provinces.

There are definitely challenges of geography since most of Canada's population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border. The advantages of a north-south market is very limited compared to other countries that have populations more evenly spread, such as the continental United States.

However, most Canadians live in larger cities that justify lower prices regardless of the nature of the geography.

This advantage is not found in rural areas nor in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, or the Yukon.

Big Telecoms Attack Netflix and the Internet

Since there was a limited number of channels (simultaneous time slots) available on cable TV in the 1990s, the content needed to be regulated to ensure that there was variety and that cheaper U.S. content would not dominate.

The Internet changed everything. Unlike cable TV, there were no limits to viewable content in any time slot.

Every person in Canada could watch a different program on the Internet without interfering with the ability of any other to do the same. The only reason to restrict access is to ensure the profitability of the big telecoms.

Monopolies Call for Regulation

Rather than change to suit the current technology, Canada's telecoms are calling on the government to regulate the Internet to ensure profitability.

The calls for an Internet tax would be used to fund Canada's big telecoms and limit Internet access with restrictions. CanCon is a confusing rating system designed to benefit Canada's big telecoms rather than truly promote Canadian content.

Netflix Threatens Profitability

Unlike cable TV, each viewer on Netflix can watch whichever program they want according to their own schedule. While the content is not unlimited (like the Internet itself), you are not forced to watch any program just because there is nothing else available in a particular time slot.

If people were getting what they want on cable TV, Netflix wouldn't be a threat.

Netflix threatens their TV subscriber base because their service frequently lacks viewable content unless you're a news or sports junkie.

Competition Banned in Rural U.S.

Several U.S. rural communities decided to take matters into their own hands and built community broadband in areas the big ISPs refused to service.

The response? The ISPs lobbied to ban community broadband in 19 U.S. states, calling it “unfair competition.”

Remember, these were areas that commercial operators refused to provide broadband service because it was unprofitable.

Legislation protected huge profits by limiting bandwidth and competition.

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Bill C-11: Online Streaming Act

TOur Internet, our choice: Amend C-11 NOW!

Canada’s Senate is about to pass the Online Streaming Act, Bill C-11 — a bill that gives the CRTC power to regulate YOUR videos, podcasts, Netflix recommendations and more.

Under Bill C-11 the CRTC gains sweeping new powers to decide what type of content should be at the top of your feeds and search results — while burying the content you actually want to see.

Our government needs a strong message that YOU are the one who should decide what you see and listen to online.

There's one last chance to stop this.

Join us in telling our government to respect our choices and leave our posts and feeds alone!

Sign the petition!

C-11 Controls What You Watch

The government told Canadians that it wanted to grab control back from big foreign Internet companies.

Instead, Bill C-11 provides control over what you watch to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) — a direct conflict of interest because Canada's big media controls the CRTC.

Our Freedom of Choice Denied

The testimony of those opposed to Bill C-11 (mostly smaller content creators) was shamefully ignored and worse, discarded as invalid:

The government's decision to ignore the overwhelming majority of testimony on the issue of regulating user content damages the credibility of the committee Bill C-11 review and makes the forthcoming Senate study on the bill even more essential. But the government went beyond just ignoring witness testimony yesterday in the House of Commons. It now claims those views constitute “misinformation.”
Michael Geist

While Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez insisted that Bill C-11 would not interfere with what users put online or watched, the CRTC's Ian Scott repeatedly stated that it could do just that with Bill C-11 as passed:

[CRTC Chair] Scott's comments confirm what Rodriguez has misleadingly denied and Bill C-11 critics have maintained for months: the bill's discoverability requirements will obviously require algorithmic manipulation in order to prioritize Canadian content.
Michael Geist

Don't Put the CRTC in Charge

The approval of the Rogers-Shaw deal clearly demonstrates an out-of-control industry-run CRTC that needs to be reigned in.

Don't put the CRTC in charge of regulating the whole Internet. We should be deciding what we watch and listen to online, not our government.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez needs to stop treating the Internet like television!

The CRTC will also be manipulating your feeds and search results. Your favourite content, and even your own uploads, could be systemically downranked in favour of content that the CRTC deems “Canadian enough”, according to their wildly outdated 1980s-era criteria.
OpenMedia

 

Bill C-10 Resurrected

The very flawed Bill C-10 died when Trudeau called the early election. It has been replaced with the current Bill C-11 (not to be confused with the lapsed privacy bill with the same designation).

Like the defunct Bill C-10, this legislation primarily benefits Canada's big three telecoms (Bell, Rogers and Telus).

Under Bill C-11, streaming companies like Netflix will also be forced to pay to produce CanCon — but will be ineligible to receive funding from the Canadian Media Fund, even when producing Canadian content.

 

Result? A direct money transfer from streaming platforms Canadians like, to legacy broadcast services we increasingly don't. What a deal!
OpenMedia

Government documentation mentions the streaming services supported by Canadian cable companies so your current streaming options may be affected even there.

Bill C-11 gives the CRTC even MORE power to decide that even more content should fall under their regulation.

In particular, the hotly-debated inclusion of small YouTube and other social media creators while retaining the outdated and confusing CanCon rules that would prevent them from benefiting financially.

In fact it has become clear that the only beneficiaries of Bill C-11 is going to the big media companies that already get the lion's share of CanCon money in spite the government's claim that it will protect regional news.

The intimidation of these small creators when testifying was shameful. The minister's continual referral to “cat videos” was a pathetic attempt at redirection from the fact that many of these creators have carved out a niche in international markets that Bill C-11 will destroy.

The Link Tax Issue

Another concerning aspect of Bill C-11 is the issue around the link tax. Bill C-11 doesn't specify the conditions for which such a tax would be valid, but implementation could result in a reduction in your sources for information if sites run by individuals (like this one) are expected to pay for each link.

The bill's sponsors claim that it will only affect sites like Facebook that aggregate news. If the inclusion of links on social media sites is so fiancially damaging, why do news organizations themselves post on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere?

News Media Monopolies Gone

Once upon a time news media outlets had a monopoly on advertising and charged accordingly (I remember paying a month's rent for a two-week ad to attract tenants for a three-bedroom suite). The Internet has changed that, providing unlimited opportunities to advertise elsewhere and the monopoly profits are gone.

Sites complain about ad blockers, but the truth is that they are fighting for much less than 10% of the worldwide ad revenue that isn't already controlled by Google and Facebook. Banning ad blockers can't provide for a return to the good old days of monopoly profits.

Who Benefits?

The supporters of link taxes say that Google, Facebook and others benefit from these links. Maybe so, but so does the broadcaster.

Today, producers of quality news want everyone who cares about their story to click through to their site and read all about it. That open flow of quality journalism has created the relatively robust online information system we use today.

 

While the news industry is definitely facing challenges, the Link Tax and promotion of misinformation simply isn't the solution.
OpenMedia

Social media is dependent upon content but news media plays a very small part of that.

We cannot fix the problem by propping up older systems whose funding model quit working when our options for information extended beyond local newspapers.

Taxing link sharing would result in our news media dependent upon the big social media companies.

Dependence upon the link tax will only increase the concentration of news media like the telecom monopoly has decreased competition for Canadian Internet access.

Rather than increased local content, our news coverage will be even more centralized.

Link Taxes Failed Elsewhere

These policies have been tried and have failed elsewhere. The Canadian market is too small to control an increasingly diverse and internationally sourced content.

Unlike Australia, we share a border with the country with the world's largest concentration of social media, television and movie conglomerates.

Michael Geist on Bill C-11

Bill C-11 trades prioritizing Canadian content for a market of 38 million people for de-prioritizing that same content for a global market that runs into the billions of viewers.

Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa, has continuing coverage on the foundational faults of Bill C-11:

  1. Why the government's "policy intentions" for Bill C-11 don't trump the actual text.
  2. The nearly unlimited global reach of CRTC jurisdiction over Internet audio-visual services.
  3. The regulate-it-all approach of treating all audio-visual content as a “program.”
  4. Why the discoverability rules are a flawed solution in search of a problem.
  5. Why the discoverability rules will harm Canadian creators and risk millions in revenues.
  6. How is “Gotta Love Trump” CanCon but Amazon's Toronto Maple Leafs series isn't?.

CanCon Imposed on the Internet

Bill C-11 imposes the twisted CanCon rules (which are based upon CAVCO CPTC certification) onto the Internet

The only beneficiaries are the big Canadian media companies and their overpriced cable packages.

The CRTC still can ask platforms for an end result, meaning it will still be in the business of picking winners who get promoted and losers whose content is downranked and hidden on online feeds. Unless and until CanCon definitions are thoroughly revised, this will mean upvoting the narrow range of legacy media content to the top of our feeds over other content we actually like.
OpenMedia

Bill C-11 Ignores the Nature of the Internet

Bill C-11 ignores the fact that everyone could simultaneously watch different content on an open Internet.

Instead, it chose to censor the Internet.

Both government and corporations cry foul when you try to block these attempts.

The Internet is Not Cable TV

Fixed timetables cannot compete with choice in your viewing time combined with program selection nor allow bing-watching of a series.

When cable TV emerged, there were only so many channels and so many hours in the day available for scheduled programming.

Canadian content rules were put in place to ensure that Canadian TV wasn't overwhelmed with cheaper U.S. productions.

Unfortunately program quality was never part of the criteria. Schitt's Creek is one of the few exceptions.

Instead, CanCon rules recognized documentaries on the American Civil War and Ghandi, but not a program based upon Canadian Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale (successfully running on Hulu).

Netflix Already Provides Canadian Content

There is more Canadian content available on Netflix than cable operators would have you (or the government) believe. All you have to do is enter “Canadian” into the search feature.

Despite the absence of regulatory requirements, Netflix has emerged as one of the leading backers of Canadian content, reporting that it commissioned hundreds of millions of dollars in original programming in Canada…. In fact, Netflix says that Canada now ranks as one of its top three locations worldwide for original productions. Given that the company spends billions each year on content, the activity in Canada is likely larger than all but a handful of regulated sources.
Michael Geist

CanCon Not Generating International Audiences

It isn't CanCon that is creating massive international online audiences — it is those individuals that have used the power of blogs and podcasts to generate massive audiences, some that dwarf even sports team fan bases.

This is what irks traditional media, leading to demands to place those successful individuals under the umbrella of the CRTC where they will fund the big Canadian media giants (while being ineligible themselves).

YouTube fears the proposals in the Online Streaming bill could skew the algorithm it uses to match content with viewers' personal preferences.

 

The platform says proposed legislation obliging platforms to promote Canadian content risks downgrading the popularity of that content abroad — and the foreign earnings many Canadian YouTubers rely on.
The Canadian Press

Take the quiz to find out if you can identify what qualifies as CanCon.

Bill C-11 wants to hand the CRTC power to rule over what audio and video material counts as “official” Canadian Content (CanCon) on almost all online services, including Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon Prime. The point of CanCon is to promote Canadian stories — but what stories are up to snuff, according to the government?

You might be surprised that your favourite movies and TV shows might not meet the official standards to be considered CanCon! This strict points system is choosy about which parts of a production count towards “Canadian-ness.” The result? Content we’d all recognize as quintessentially Canadian slipping through the cracks.

Think you can tell the difference between CanCon and not? Take the quiz to find out which films and TV shows are certified “Canadian” — according to our government.

Take the quiz!

CRTC Unsuitable

Bill C-11 is giving the CRTC the power to control what ordinary Canadians are posting without any oversight.

The CRTC is an unsuitable body for such authority, more so since it listens only to big media.

One of the most troubling aspects of Bill C-11 is the virtually limitless reach of the CRTC's jurisdictional power of audio-visual services.

 

Bill C-11 does not contain specific thresholds or guidance. In other words, the entire audio-visual world is fair game and it will be up to the CRTC to decide whether to exempt some services from regulation.
Michael Geist

CRTC Approved the Rogers-Shaw Deal

A very strong indicator of the CRTC's unsuitability is the approval of the purchase of Shaw by Rogers, a deal that will limit competition and increase the cost of Internet and cellular for Canadians.

This is a tone-deaf decision from a CRTC that has completely lost touch with ordinary people in Canada.

 

Ordinary people know very well what this deal will mean; less competition, fewer jobs, and higher prices for telecom customers. And yet not one of the institutions we've charged with assessing the deal has had the courage to say it.
OpenMedia

Fixing the CRTC would probably require legislation banning these big media companies from being involved in the decisions made by the CRTC.

Don't put the CRTC in charge of regulating the whole Internet. We should be deciding what we watch and listen to online, not our government.

Tell Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez:
Stop treating the Internet like television!

 

Big Media Wants to Control What You See and Watch

Big media wants to make the Internet a two-tiered system with emphasis on their products. Third-party sites they don't control will be slower. It's already happening:

  • Regulators in Europe are working to tax the Internet.
  • The Canadian Liberal government has threatened regulation since 2016.

The purpose of taxes and regulation is to protect and fund media companies that currently provide little in the way of original content other than sports and news.

If people were getting what they want on cable TV, Netflix wouldn't be a threat.

Instead, Canada's big three would rather tax your choice of Netflix, slow down your connection or simply not provide access at all.

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Net Neutrality

Net neutrality

The Internet was designed as a neutral platform for open, unrestricted access to the data we wanted to obtain.

We need the Internet to be fast, cheap, neutral, and accessible everywhere.
Larry Lessig

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality means that all data is treated equally — all sites and services on the Internet have an equal footing.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers providing consumer connection to the Internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not giving specific advantages or penalties in access by user, content, website, platform, or application.
Mozilla

It allows us to choose what we watch and when we watch it.

Just Like Electricity

The plug in the wall doesn't ask what you're using it for. It simply serves electricity.

That is how we need our electronic data to be served: neutrally — just like electricity.

Imagine plugging in your new electric kettle only to find that it wouldn't work because it wasn't the “approved” brand? What if it worked, but you were charged extra?

Delivering Content Without Interference

Net Neutrality delivers the site(s) you request without any extra fees or censorship.

No site is artificially slowed or sped up. There is no fast lane for privileged services such as free access to a particular music or movie service ONLY if you're using that ISP's services.

Net neutrality is a simple concept that ends up being very politically complicated. It's the idea that your internet service provider (ISP) — whether that's Comcast, Verizon, or someone else — shouldn't have the ability to pick and choose which service or content you can see, or make sites pay to have their content load quickly.
Mozilla Blog

Save Net Neutrality in Canada

Remember when big media controlled everything you read and watched?

They'd like that control back.

Canada's big media companies don't want net neutrality:

The federal government has repeatedly stated its commitment to Net Neutrality, but Canada's Telecommunications Act is currently under review.

 

And we know lobbyists — and now the CRTC — are pushing for looser regulations, following the U.S.' Net Neutrality repeal as an example.

 

The federal government must reject any effort by the CRTC to weaken Canada's Net Neutrality framework.
OpenMedia

Why You Should Care

The loss of net neutrality affects much more than corporate profitability.

Removing net neutrality sees some services promoted; others slowed down or banned altogether.

Neutrality deals with whether companies will be allowed to build more toll booths on the road. Net Neutrality is the best way to insure that no one is in control of the flow of information.
David Mengert
You should care because net neutrality is about way more than packets of data — it affects competition, innovation, speech online, and user choice.

 

Losing net neutrality would ultimately mean you have fewer choices for content, applications, and services online, in ways we can't possibly imagine today.
— Mozilla

Government's Failure to Represent Constituents

Government seems to have the ear of the huge mega-corporations, not the people they are supposed to represent.

Without net neutrality, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter could never have become the mega corporations they are today. No future competition could ever emerge.

Compromised Personal Data and Fake News

Tim Berners-Lee, known as the inventor of the Internet, describes the problem:

Over the past 12 months, I've become increasingly worried about three new trends, which I believe we must tackle in order for the web to fulfill its true potential as a tool which serves all of humanity.

Those three new trends:

  1. compromised personal data;
  2. fake news that he says has “spread like wildfire;” and
  3. the lack of regulation in political advertising, which he says threatens democracy.

Domestic Spying

Large scale spying on ordinary citizens and opposition to encryption are two of the ways government has turned a basically free and open Internet into a data-collection nightmare.

Both government and corporations cry foul when you try to block these attempts.

Bill C-51 provided greatly increased surveillance powers to the police but at the cost of personal privacy. Unfortunately, this loss of freedom will not ensure protection against terrorism or crime.

U.S. Already Seeing the Results

To understand the dangers of a net neutrality-free Internet, one has only to look to our neighbours to the south.

The US voted to kill off net neutrality on December 14th 2017 in spite of overwhelming support for net neutrality by U.S. citizens.

The ISPs in the US are taking full advantage of the repeal of Net Neutrality.

 

A new research study proved that video streaming has been throttled across the board since the repeal.

You Need to Take Action

Since governments are listening only to big media, you need to step up and take an active part if you want to see net neutrality remain.

Change Your Browser

Your browser choice and the page that you make your "home" page make a great deal of difference.

If your browser is the one your operating system set as default with its default landing page, why not choose a safer browser that loads by default something that is important to you?

If Microsoft's News & Interests feed isn't serving your interests, remove the distraction by right-clicking the task bar and choosing to turn it off in the related menu item.

Signing into your Google Chrome may preserve settings, but also provides a lot of information used to profile you.

Choose Safer Content

I recommend Firefox.

The Firefox Browser has built in tracking protection. That makes it harder for politicians, advertisers, and disinformation disseminators to find you. And with the free Facebook container extension, you can isolate your Facebook session from everything else you do online. More privacy means more democracy.
IRL: Democracy and the Internet

A Lot is At Stake

There are more serious issues than familiarity when choosing a browser.

Google controls about 62% of mobile browsers, 69% of desktop browsers, and the operating systems on 71% of mobile devices in the world.

 

92% of internet searches go through Google and 73% of American adults use YouTube.

 

Google runs code on approximately 85% of sites on the Web and inside as many as 94% of apps in the Play store.

 

It collects data about users' every click, tap, query, and movement from all of those sources and more.
EFF

This Google monopoly now threatens the future of the open Web.

An Open Internet Promotes Innovation

Most of today's big Internet companies wouldn't exist today without a free and open Internet. Startups are in no position to compete with established Fortune 500 companies for limited bandwidth.

Fund Those Working for an Open Internet

Consider funding the organizations working to support a free and open Internet.

  • OpenMedia works directly to educate people about these issues and to influence those that can make changes.
  • Mozilla stands up for a healthy internet for all. Mozilla Firefox is the only major independent browser that protects and respects your private information.

Retain a Free & Open Internet

Police are already piling on the pressure for new laws to force you to reveal all of your digital passwords. Telecom giants are jacking up the price of Internet at 5 times the rate of inflation, and Big Media wants to use the upcoming copyright review to turn our Internet into Cable TV 2.0.
— OpenMedia

Retain the current open Internet we currently experience and have taken for granted since we began to use it.

Learn More

More about Net Neutrality:

 

Digital Rights (DRM)

As music and movies have moved from CDs and DVDs to digital they are easier to copy.

DRM is intended to stop piracy while not interfering with legal use.

…trying to make digital files uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet.
— Bruce Schneier

Unlike a physical book or CD you are restricted in your use of digital media including your ability to lend or sell it.

DRM prevents you from doing what would be possible without it.
Defective by Design

Evidence Suppressed

These companies have become much more aggressive in pursuing protective technologies, claiming millions of dollars in lost sales.

The EU suppressed a 300-page study that found piracy doesn't harm sales.

Not everyone that downloads a pirated song or movie would have paid for it.

DRM Affects Privacy

If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed.
Peter Lee, Disney

Kindle Tracks You

One example of how DRM can affect your privacy is Amazon's tracking of where you are in a Kindle ebook.

By selling texts restricted by DRM, Amazon ensnares readers, controls their access to their books, and infringes on their freedoms.
Defective by Design.

Hiding Failures and Fraud

This openness is one-sided.

Companies used DRM to prosecute those that would reveal shortcomings, vulnerabilities or outright fraud.

DRM is wrapped up in a layer of legal entanglements (notably section 1201 of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which allow similar kinds of anticompetitive and ugly practices that make net neutrality so important.
Tim Wu

Volkswagen Emissions

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is only one example.

Volkswagen gamed the computers in their cars to misreport the actual emissions output so that they appeared cleaner than they actually were. DRM ensured that no one dared to test their results.

We cannot afford to continue to allow companies to threaten our security in order to save face when they fail.

Web Browsers & DRM

Our browsers have become integrated into areas like medical devices and lives could depend upon revealing vulnerabilities and exploits.

DRM has been used to keep these vulnerabilities secret.

As content moved from plugins to HTML5-based content, Netflix and Motion Picture Association of America pushed the W3C to incorporate DRM.

Profitability at Your Expense

DRM places unreasonable restrictions that sacrifice your privacy to ensure corporate profit.

Your privacy is ignored and your ability to control your own information is sacrificed in the pursuit of this goal.

Re-Purchasing Content

You are paying for the content, yet DRM ensures that the consumer pays over and over for the same product simply because technology changes.

  • You may own the DVD but can't legally copy it to view on your iPad.
  • You may own the LP but need to re-purchase the CD.
  • If you scratch the DVD, you can't get a replacement or exchange, even at a discount.

With the move from CDs and DVDs to online streaming, the DRM was incorporated into your browser to ensure corporations retained control of your viewing and listening habits.

Corporate vs Individual Rights

Legislation enhances the protection for media giants, often overshadowing the rights of both creators (such as writers, musicians, artists, etc.) and end users.

This concentrates control over production and distribution of media, giving DRM peddlers the power to carry out massive digital book burnings and conduct large scale surveillance over people's media viewing habits.
Defective by Design

Increased Corporate Control

TPP and other trade agreements increased corporate control worldwide.

DMCA Abuses

Too often the Digital Millennium Act (DMCA) has been used to stiffle legitimate uses.

  • John Deere used it to prevent farmers from repairing their own equipment.
  • Volkswagen used it to hide faked emission control data.
  • Researchers are prevented from discovering security flaws in software.
It's certainly easier to implement bad security and make it illegal for anyone to notice than it is to implement good security.
— Bruce Schneier

DRM Fallout

Some users report losing copies of their own music when unsubscribing from the Apple Music service after Apple changed their DRM policies.

I also experienced this removal of music NOT sourced though Apple Music.

As a result seldom listen to music on my iPhone or use iTunes anymore. It was simply too much trouble to restore the music I was actually listening to.

VLC Player is DRM-free and allows me to watch without being watched.

Learn More

More about DRM and related issues:

  • Defective by Design is a grass roots organization working together to eliminate DRM as a threat to innovation in media, the privacy of readers, and freedom for computer users.
  • DRM Repeat offenders include Microsoft, Netflix, Sony and Amazon's Kindle.
  • The Free Software Foundation is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom and to defend the rights of all free software users.

Related Resources

Related resources on this site:

or check the resources index.

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RussHarvey.bc.ca/resources/internet-at-risk.html
Updated: November 24, 2022