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Regarding CRTC’s opinion that Quebec cannot block access to gambling sites

By Byron Holland
President and CEO

The Internet must be kept open. Allowing Quebec to block gambling sites would be a step toward fragmenting the Internet.

Back in 2015, I wrote a commentary for the Montreal Gazette about Quebec’s consideration of a proposal to block its citizens from accessing out-of-province gambling websites.

While Domain Name System (DNS) blocking is not uncommon, it raises several concerns. Blocking access to a website doesn’t take the “offending” content off-line, nor does it prevent anyone from accessing that content (a quick search will turn up hundreds of services to avoid DNS blocking).

In my commentary for the Gazette, I wrote that practices like DNS blocking are a step toward fragmenting the Internet.

Fast-forwarding to just this past week, a preliminary opinion from the CRTC stated that Quebec cannot force Internet companies to block access to certain websites without the approval of the CRTC. In the Huffington Post article, it goes on to say that in a letter from the secretary general Danielle May-Cuconato, federal telecom law states only the CRTC can legally order websites be blocked, and only in exceptional circumstances.

The Internet is an open space for publishing and reading content, and we should work towards keeping it that way – and not just for Canadians, but for all global citizens. It’s good to see that the CRTC seems to be aligning itself with this point of view. If Quebec is granted the ability to block access to certain sites, it would set precedent for a shifting control of filtering the Internet.

Now, the opinion that was made public last week was only preliminary – and in the letter, the CRTC gave 15 days to respond. I hope the Quebec government comes to the realization that if they are successful in what they’re asking for, it is a step towards fragmenting the Internet, the very thing that has been connecting us all.

About the author
Byron Holland

Byron Holland (MBA, ICD.D) is the president and CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the national not-for-profit best known for managing the .CA domain and developing new cybersecurity, DNS, and registry services.

Byron is an expert in internet governance and a seasoned entrepreneur. Under Byron’s leadership, CIRA has become one of the leading ccTLDs in the world, with over 3 million domains under management. Over the past decade, he has represented CIRA internationally and held numerous leadership positions within ICANN. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for TORIX, and is a member of the nominations committee for ARIN. He lives in Ottawa with his wife, two sons, and their Australian shepherd, Marley.

The views expressed in this blog are Byron’s opinions on internet-related issues, and are not necessarily those of the organization.