Sunday, July 24, 2005

Telus censors internet connections 

Telus Communications Inc., Canada's second-largest telephone company and an Internet service provider to thousands of Canadians is censoring the Internet connections of its subscribers by blocking access to several web sites. These web sites are run by the Telecommunications Workers' Union of Canada, which is currently locked out by Telus as part of a labor dispute.

Censoring the Internet connections of its subscribers is an abuse of its paying customers, abuse of its position of privilege as a supposedly neutral telecommunications carrier, and abuse of the public trust. Imagine if Telus, as a phone company as well, started blocking all calls into the union headquarters. The people that are paying Telus each month to get online have paid for using the entire Internet, not just the parts that Telus management thinks they should be able to read.

Censorship by a telephone or Internet company is a sucker punch to one of the democratic values Canadians hold most dear: the right to free expression, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We pay our money and put our trust in these companies to behave ethically and fairly, and often they do. Sometimes, though, they do something like this, and their subscribers pay the price. But all Internet users have a choice: there are lots of other companies out there besides Telus that are willing to treat you with respect and keep up their side of the bargain when you pay them your $45 a month. If I was a Telus customer, I'd be looking for one right now, before they block those web sites, too.

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