Court says that the provincial government has no jurisdiction over telecoms, meaning it cannot suppress net neutrality.
On July 18, the Quebec Superior overruled a reform to the Consumer Protection Law of Quebec, reiterating that the provincial government has no sovereignty over telecom companies. The government suggested revisions to the Consumer Protection Act to stop the illegal online gambling in accordance with the perception of the province based on its 2015 Budget.
Quebec embraced the legislature, Bill 74, in 2016 and forced ISPs to block sites that are bound to such activities. Following the passage of the bill, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) petitioned the decision arguing that it was against the law. They said that the provincial government was attempting to monitor and part of the web and violate net neutrality principles.
After two years, the said bill still needs to go into effect. Expectedly, advocates of net neutrality opposed the move claiming that it’s a Telecommunications Act violation. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) then filed an admonition to prevent the Quebec government from implementing ISP’s blockade of online gaming websites until the court decides its legality.
The Consumer Protection Law might have been under the governance of the province, but the ruling indicated that the association to Consumer Protection was just exterior. The true objective of the bill was to accelerate the incomes for Quebec. Loto-Quebec noticed that its earnings are decreasing year after year mainly because of the online gambling. It even developed its own gambling site called “Espacejeux” and mandate ISPs to block other competing gambling portals. Those broadband providers that will not adhere will be penalized and will pay from $2,000 to $100,000 every infraction.
As Finance Minister Carlos Leitao pointed out, the law was important to safeguard the health and welfare of the citizens. He said that private gambling sites do not employ the same accountable gaming regulations just like the provincial government.
However, ISPs contested that if they follow the Quebec government, they will be breaching Section 236 of the Telecommunications Act. It states that: ” Except where the Commission (CRTC)approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.”
According to a spokesperson from the CWTA, they have always been definite that all Canadians are better provided by a balanced and well-proportioned set of federal rules instead of a patchwork of provincial measures.
For the meantime, Loto-Quebec is advocating other online gaming sites to submit a better proposal to establish partnerships with EspaceJeux. The players will then be redirected to these casinos while sustaining all of the customer data and getting a portion of the earnings.
Net neutrality as we know it prevents ISPs from blocking, throttling, or discriminating web traffic. The Decenternet platform provides an open internet that allows users to access different websites, centralized or decentralized.