Canada Issues New Net Neutrality Guidelines

Canada’s federal telecommunications regulator issued new guidelines clarifying how it will deal with complaints about Internet service providers’ management of web traffic on their networks. Under a 2009 policy, ISPs are permitted to practice bandwidth throttling, through the use of technical Internet traffic management practices (ITMPs), in order to manage and prioritize online network traffic, but are urged to do so only if no other measures (i.e., “economic practices”) are effective.  Though this same policy requires the use of technical ITMPs to be made transparent, and requires ISPs to ensure the ITMPs they employ are not “unjustly discriminatory nor unduly preferential,” it provides little in the way of enforcement authority.  The new policy guidelines, released last month by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, seek to improve compliance and enforcement mechanisms by clearly laying out the process for the submission of complaints initiated by consumers, telecommunications service providers, and other industry groups.  Given the burden placed on consumers in making a complaint and the generally soft enforcement powers envisioned by the guidelines, however, it remains to be seen whether they will actually result in better compliance with the applicable policies.