Pardon me while I read your mail…

Bell Canada is watching you!Suppose you opened your front door and found your postman standing on the porch reading your mail.

Would you:

a) be alarmed

b) call the cops

c) apologize for interrupting his reading

I know that “c” would likely be the typical Canadian reaction, but “b” would be the right thing to do. 

The mail that arrives in our mailboxes each day is generally accepted to be private and there are strict laws in place to protect our privacy.  Should we expect that the same rule apply to our electronic mail? 

Apparently not, according to a complaint made this week by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, a University of Ottawa legal clinic specializing in Internet related law.  They have complained to the Privacy Commissioner that Bell Canada has been snooping in our e mail. 

I am not naive enough to expect total privacy when it comes to the Internet – there are too many spam artists, hackers and phishers out there trying to separate me from my personal information – but I do expect that our access providers, to whom we pay outrageous amounts of money to each month, respect our privacy.

How would you feel if Bell Canada decided to listen in on every phone call you made?  Then why should they expect that they would be able to ride roughshod over our privacy when it comes to our other vital electronic communications?

And this leads to the basic question as to who in Canada controls the net?  Apparently, Bell, Rogers and Shaw consider it their property because they sell the access to it.  And that is a dangerous attitude when you think about it. 

Imagine a future when Rogers (who provides my access) decides that postings like this are not in their best interests so they slow traffic to my blog or any other site that criticizes them.  This is the specter that the entire question of Net Neutrality raises. 

In the 21st century the net has become the most important source of information for most people.  Our children now spend more time online each day than they do watching television.  We cannot allow the media conglomerates to control their access and ability to express themselves.

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