There is a lot of discussion about this matter right now, particularly on blogs!
According to the Canadian Telecommunications Act, an ISP cannot block
particular sites without permission from the Canadian Radio-Television
and Telecommunications Commission. It appears that seeking permission
is not always the case, and this has prompted some discussion about
how the Act actually applies!
From Telecommunications Act - Statutes of Canada, Chapter 38
Content of messages
36. "Except where the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian
carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or
purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public."
When Telus blocked access to a labor union website in July of 2005,
it caused quite an uproar.
"On July 25, 2005, Canadian Internet Service Provider (ISP) Telus
blocked subscribers' access to a Web site set up by an employee labor
union intended to publicize the union's views about its dispute with
Telus. In addition, the OpenNet Initiative's (ONI) research shows that
Telus's decision to block traffic to the Internet Protocol (IP)
address of the site caused collateral filtering of at least 766
additional, unrelated Web sites. Telus restored access to the IP
address hosting the sites on July 28, 2005, while appearing to
maintain an option to block any sites it chooses.
"Telus's blocking of the Voices for Change site generated considerable
criticism of the company's actions. (5) According to Telus
spokespeople, the ISP was justified in blocking the site because it
contained confidential "proprietary information" about Telus,
encouraged people to tie up call centre phone lines, and endangered
non-union staff by posting pictures of them crossing picket lines.
Telus claims that under contractual agreements with its customers, it
has the right to block access to certain sites, such as those
containing child pornography.
This poses questions as to whether the Canadian Telecommunications Act
has been followed to the letter."
See "Telus Blocks Consumer Access to Labour Union Web Site and Filters
an Additional 766 Unrelated Sites." August 2, 2005
Further opinion about this event can be seen on Michael Geist's blog:
"Given the importance of the neutrality principle, it came as a shock
to learn last week that Telus, Canada?s second largest
telecommunications company, was actively blocking access to Voices for
Change, a website supporting the Telecommunications Workers Union.
Telus has been embroiled in a contentious labour dispute with the
union, yet its decision to unilaterally block subscriber access to the
site was unprecedented."
"The Canadian Telecommunications Act may also be relevant to this
situation, though the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission?s 1999 New Media decision to take a hand-off approach to
the Internet may diminish its applicability."
"Section 27(2) forbids unjust discrimination in the provision of a
telecommunication service. This section is primarily applicable to
competing services, though the blocked website may well fit within the
"Moreover, Section 36 of the Act provides that a "Canadian carrier
shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of
telecommunications carried by it for the public." The CRTC has sought
to limit the applicability of this provision to retail end-user
Internet services, yet it is clear that the Telus action extended well
beyond its own retail customers."
"Canadian ISPs have been supported for many years by a self-regulatory
environment premised on network neutrality and non-discrimination of
the traffic on their systems. In light of last week?s events, they
may soon find the federal government stepping in to back this
principle with the force of law."
Read "Telus Breaks Net Providers Cardinal Rule."
* Follow the links below this article to related content about this matter!
Also see "TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY REVIEW SUBMISSION." Professor
Michael Geist. Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law.
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law
Recently, the CRTC took some action on this issue:
From "CRTC denies request to ask ISPs to block hate sites." August 25, 2006
"Canada's broadcast regulator will not ask internet providers to
voluntarily block two U.S.-based websites accused of promoting hate.
An Ottawa lawyer has asked the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission to block access in Canada to the two
"The CRTC said Friday it would be inappropriate to grant an interim
order allowing ISPs to block the sites without first allowing comment
from the companies and the public."
"The CRTC can order internet service providers to temporarily block
access of Canadian internet users to specific websites, but must first
ask them to do so voluntarily."
"The ISPs themselves are not allowed to block access to any site -
even ones that promote hatred - without the CRTC's permission.
Internet law expert Michael Geist says the case raises interesting
questions and possible precedents.
"If the CRTC does issue such an order, will it face a regular stream
of similar requests? Can the sites be blocked without also blocking
dozens or hundreds of additional sites hosted at the same IP address?"
wrote Geist on his blog."
I hope this information helps to answer your question!
Canadian Telecommunications Act
CRTC telecommunications companies block access to internet