An open letter signed by an expansive list of respected tech critics was published on Monday. The letter calls on the Trudeau Liberals to "stop harming the Internet, and the freedoms and aspirations of every individual in this country, and our knowledge economy through overreaching regulatory policies that will have significant, yet unintended consequences for the free and open Internet in Canada."
"Now more than ever," it says, "all members of Canadian society rely on the Internet. A recent series of proposals and actions taken by your government threaten to adversely impact our freedom to access online content of our choice, to post legal content without fear of censorship, and even risk disrupting the technical infrastructure of the Internet.
"Such proposals include amendments to the Broadcasting Act in Bill C-10, forthcoming online harms legislation, and proposals from both the CRTC and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to block content at the network level.
"We understand that some online regulation may be necessary, and that policies need to be updated. But decisions about Canada's Internet policy can't be taken lightly–they have social, economic and cultural implications and could harm the technical foundation that makes the Internet work for everyone.
"We urge you to carefully consider decisions through consultation and impact assessments to avoid negative implications for individuals, our economy, and our democracy. More than ever, we need evidence-based policies that reflect the interests of every individual in this country–not rushed, politically-driven processes that respond only to those of a few.
"We believe that the Internet should remain an open, globally-connected and secure resource for everyone–a model that Canada has historically supported and championed. This is underpinned by open participation and collaboration, both of which have helped Canada earn global recognition as a digital leader.
"However, it appears that Canada is not immune to the growing trend of government intervention to curtail freedom, and seek to control parts of the Internet’s infrastructure, in ways reminiscent of actions taken by authoritarian governments.
"In 2017 you committed to protecting an open Internet and net neutrality. Late last year you pledged to connect 98% of households in Canada to high speed Internet by 2026. Why is your government now making uninformed decisions that threaten to undermine the Internet and innovation in Canada?
"We ask you and your team to pause and take the time to study the harmful implications of recently tabled Internet policies and regulations. We are happy and available to assist in this process."
Among those who signed were TekSavvy VP Andy Kaplan-Myrth, and Konrad von Finckenstein QC, the Former Chairman of CRTC, Former Commissioner of Competition.