Canadian internet users have been up-in-arms about a recent law that would see caps put on their internet usage and severe per-gigabyte costs on anything they do online. While Canadians have grown increasingly vocal about this new regulation, the government had remained relatively mum – until last night. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper went public yesterday in favor of reviewing, and possibly retracting, the regulation, bypassing traditional media and choosing instead to speak to Canadians via Twitter.
The issue at hand is known as usage-based-billing, and it was enacted by the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) in January. It broadly states that as of March 1st, ISPs are able to charge wholesalers and consumers a price-per-gigabyte – with some projecting up to $2.99 or more per gig. That could end up costing high-powered Canadian internet users hundreds of dollars a month to watch videos, listen to music and look at pictures online.
In response to the CRTC’s ruling, OpenMedia started a “Stop the Meter” petition which has garnered over 280,000 signatures to become the largest petition in Canadian history. And the government was paying attention.
After days of silence, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come out in favor of reviewing the CRTC’s decision, and possibly reversing it. But rather than reach out through traditional media (which, many Canadians may know, is some of the most monopolized in the world and is largely owned by companies with a vested interest in the ISPs who would benefit from the ruling), Harper spoke out on Twitter.
@PMHarper tweeted this yesterday afternoon:
The tweet sparked the mainstream media’s coverage of the CRTC’s decision, which was lacking prior to the OpenMedia petition gaining momentum.
Politicians are increasingly turning to Twitter as a tool to express their opinions without worrying about the filter that mainstream media often imposes, and it looks like Harper made the right decision in this case. Now, Canadians just have to hope that his government makes the right decision when it comes to the CRTC.