[Chronique d’Alain McKenna] Win the Stanley Cup, check out the Canadian Internet

The ultimate series that should lead a National Hockey League team to drink champagne from the Stanley Cup begins any day now. And while there will certainly be a winning team, there may be many more losers than usual. Because it is in the shadow of the Stanley Cup that these days the future of the Canadian Internet will be decided.

The Federal Court has just authorized Bell, Rogers and Quebecor to put in place the necessary mechanisms to prevent illegal broadcasting of NHL games online. Since this illegal distribution often occurs on sites hosted outside of Canada, the three service providers are authorized to make these sites inaccessible from Canada. The ruling allows them to force independent providers to block them as well.

Millions of dollars are at stake

This is not the first time such a practice has been allowed. In 2019, Bill and Rogers won the right to cut off access to the GoldTV online television service. The Internet address of this service is blocked immediately. It only took a few days for GoldTV to generate a new internet address to thwart this system.

To prevent this from happening again, a federal court will allow internet providers to “dynamically” block access to illegal broadcasts of NHL games. What this means is that a system will be put in place that must be adhered to by all ISPs in the country and will be constantly updated to provide all Internet addresses that may be illegally streamed for NHL hockey. All Canadian suppliers will have to comply.

It’s a first in Canada, but not the first in the world. Because “dynamic address blocking” is actually a business model for a British company called Friend MTS, which is already providing its services to English football broadcasting professionals in the UK and Ireland.

The three Canadian telecom giants paid millions of dollars to retain the exclusive right to broadcast these games. For every match day, you can find by searching on the Internet dozens of broadcasts of these same matches that can be accessed for free. Fighting piracy makes sense. It’s a big job.

To avoid slipping, the court indicated that her license would be suspended once she won the Stanley Cup later this month. Anyone wishing to repeat the experience must return to appear before a judge.

Ineffective escalation

The problem, because there is a problem, is that the millions of dollars that were spent to bring the case to court and then put in place the necessary mechanisms to implement these procedures may be wasted. For one simple reason: anyone who wants to access a website that is blocked by their service provider just has to sign up for a VPN service. VPNs (virtual private networks or virtual private network, in French) to hide the online activity of the internet users who use it.

VPNs were, only a few years ago, a tool known only to a few web hackers, but that is no longer the case. The equivalent of a VPN service can be found aboard the major web browsers like Firefox and Safari these days. Standalone VPNs often cost less than five dollars per month and mask a user’s online activity whether it’s on a mobile phone, PC, or even a digital TV receiver (Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, etc.).

In fact, VPNs are so well known that a federal court has called for an independent review to analyze internet behavior during NHL Finals matches.

As the Canadian Clinic for Internet Policy and the Public Interest (CIPPIC), an organization that grew out of the University of Ottawa’s Department of Law that advocates for the public interest in Internet issues, she writes: If Rogers, Bell and other media firms that have had a request for this ruling by wishing to extend it beyond the series season 2022, independent scrutiny should prove that the side-blocking of legitimate content was minimal and that this ban actually helped increase the subscription rate of their services, rather than directing Internet users to illegal sources or to adopt VPN services. »

In China and Russia, VPNs give opposition citizens a way to bypass barriers and gain access to foreign websites and media. In Canada, VPN services will help determine whether the Internet can be controlled not by the state, but by three companies that actually control television broadcasting and most of the Internet’s infrastructure, wired or wireless.

Their concerns are clearly justified – piracy of commercial content is illegal, and it must be curbed. The method used is cause for concern. If it were to be introduced in the future every time a Canadian broadcaster wanted to protect their content, would we see a massive movement of Canadian internet users toward VPNs?

The Stanley Cup is said to be the hardest tournament to win in all professional sports. Let us hope that victory this spring does not lead to millions of losers.

Let’s see in the video

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.