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Canadian Telco Admits to Blocking Union's Website 689

Nogami_Saeko writes "Canadian telephone company and ISP "Telus" has admitted that they are blocking all attempts to access a website set up by the employee's union (who is currently "on-strike" or "locked-out", depending on your point of view). Currently no customers of the Telco's ADSL service (or any other ADSL service provider who leases lines) can access the union's webpage. Is it reasonable for an ISP to censor webpages they don't agree with during contract negotiations?"
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Canadian Telco Admits to Blocking Union's Website

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  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:02AM (#13154991) Homepage
    These companies are providing what is essentially a public service, Internet access. They should not interfere with the content/data itself. Period.
    • by bcore ( 705121 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:09AM (#13155047)
      ..lose their common carrier designation, since they obviously aren't trying to be one, and immediately become responsible for evey bit of kiddie porn and other illegal activity that goes on on their network.
      • That one, I like. That's a really good one.
        You want control? Sure, you've got it. But you get responsibility (liability), too...
      • Does anybody if it's that black'n white, recently the organisation of ISPs in Belgiul struck a deal with IFPI (local branch of RIAA) that they will remove access to any newsgroup with illegal music. Are they now liable for all content that passes through?
        • by ThePilgrim ( 456341 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:40AM (#13155232) Homepage
          I think news groups could be handeled diffrently.
          To access a news group you have to connecet to a server that hosts the group.

          NNTP allows servers to request only the parts of the USENET hierarchy that they wish to carry.

          Hence the content of a news article is stored on the server you connect to.

          The content of a web page is not stored on the ISP's servers, caching asside, and as such the ISP is only acting as a carrier not as a host.
        • I didn't know union websites were illegal.
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:12AM (#13155061) Journal
      Actually, I hope they keep this up, so they can then be sued, have charges pressed for minors being able to gain access to porn via their service. By blocking out a certain website, they show an inclination to censor access to the internet, so they should be forced to censor porn, at least upon request. They can no longer say "we can't do that" because they've shown that actually, they can and are willing (in certain circumstances) to censor access.
      • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BVis ( 267028 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @09:24AM (#13155478)
        This raises a point regarding objectionable content. IMHO once you've taken it upon yourself to say "We filter some content" you've taken on a responsibility to filter it all; the problem is, you're never going to completely match all of your customers' expectations of your filtering. This concept goes far beyond the realm of telecommunications; the analogy is Wal-Mart refusing to carry music with parental warning labels on it. By taking a stand against "immoral" (or whatever) content, they've created a perception that whatever is bought from their store will not have any objectionable content. ISTR that they were sued recently over a CD bought by a minor that had the F-Bomb on it. While I disagree with Wal-Mart on this topic (as well as most other topics), I cannot argue that they have a right to stock whatever items they want, as a private company. The trouble is now they're dealing with the consequences of their actions. (I found it kind of funny that when I had a contract to replace some parts in their cash registers, I noticed that every store I worked in had no trouble stocking M-rated video games, such as the now-infamous Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Yay for hypocrisy.)

        Lots of people thought that lawsuit was frivolous; I think that it served an important purpose. Wal-Mart prides itself on its "family values" (while ironically keeping many families firmly in the category of the "working poor"). The suit reminds them that there are consequences for taking on the role of moral arbiter, and they may get more trouble than they bargained for.

        Of course, if anyone can afford to take the hit, it's the biggest retailer in the world.
    • Perhaps somebody from Canada can enlighten as to the "public service" status of Internet access? Is it regulated as a public good?
      Not trolling, just don't know. I suspect this is part of the fear of making Internet access public in the US as well - if government regulates, "think of the children!" takes over and everybody loses. A few other posters have already mentioned that voting with dollars makes more sense, provided you have alternatives.
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Total_Wimp ( 564548 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:23AM (#13155130)
      This is the exact reason it was so important to force the guys with the fat pipes to be forced to sublease their pips to other ISPs. If This were Verizon DSL, I could switch to Covad, but if this were Cox cable, (my current provider) I'd just be stuck.

      Letting these guys run their businesses this way is tantamount to letting the guys who run the toll roads just not allow vans from their competing companies run on their roads. We'd never allow this on other critical infrastructure, why the heck should we allow it on the internet, THE crictical infrastructure for the 21st century.

    • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by typical ( 886006 )
      These companies are providing what is essentially a public service, Internet access. They should not interfere with the content/data itself. Period.

      Unless it is more profitable to do so.

      For example, cell providers could simply provide a data service instead of application service. $N for x MB of data (and maybe $M for y MB of real-time data), and the rest is up to you. That would produce a market in which many companies are trying to figure out how to build and sell the applications that consume the
    • Re:No. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Super Nicko ( 896630 )
      I have to agree. The internet is a public service, and should not be controlled by private or public entities except as provided under law (eg kiddyporn).

      In Australia at the moment, Telstra is one of the biggest ISPs and is 51% owned by the government. Most other retails resell Testra products or use Telstra datapipes in one way or another.

      Imagine if Telstra, under the direction of the Government, were told to stop access to any sites of opposition parties, unions who didn't agree with their stance, etc.
  • People complain frequently of censorship, however let's remember that corporations "own" assets in ways similar to individuals. I am in the US, however I suspect that Canada can't be too different.

    The bottom line here is, if a consumer does not like the actions that a corporation is taking, then they can vote with their money by using a competing service.

    When the government is behind censorship that is different - if something is publicly funded then it should publicly available (generally speaking and w
    • by adamjaskie ( 310474 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:06AM (#13155022) Homepage
      Competing service? IS there one? I know that the only way I can get broadband where I live is through Comcast. I don't have a choice. If I want broadband, I get Comcast.
      • Has Comcast been granted a monopoly by the government (as in, people except Comcast aren't legally able to offer broadband in your area)? If so, then they should be held to the same standards as the government, if not, then it's not their problem. If there's truly enough demand for something, then a competitor will eventually appear, otherwise they won't.

        You don't have a right to broadband, just because you can't get what you want, doesn't mean Comcast should be forced to give it to you.
        • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:37AM (#13155217) Journal
          Comcast owns the nice fancy fiberoptic cables and repeaters that is tacked up on the electric company owned poles, that are planted in the publicly owned property paid for by my tax dollars; all of this is controlled by laws, regulations, and contracts between the companies. Not every company can get access to the pole's and public right-of-ways, so yes it is an effective monopoly. Not everybody can get competing services, I live in a city that has DSL service in it, but can't get DSL because of the distance to the central office, and probably never will.

        • Has Comcast been granted a monopoly by the government... if not, then it's not their problem

          A monopoly doesn't need to be government sponsored. Think Microsoft, or better yet Standard Oil.

          You don't have a right to broadband, just because you can't get what you want, doesn't mean Comcast should be forced to give it to you.

          No, it's not a right, but broadband is a service which the government considers a strategic move for a healthy economy, thus an 'inconsiderate' monopoly can be considered to be a

        • by GeckoX ( 259575 )
          Actually, your last statement is not exactly correct.

          The Canadian government has a mandate to make broadband available to all Canadians. The ISP's have been slowly being forced to expand into areas they wouldn't normally. (IE: Low population centres)

          At least in Ontario, almost every small town has a couple of broadband choices. I'm in a town of 1400 people, and I have 4 choices. 2 cable, 2 dsl.

          They basically say: Hey, you want to expand your business in this are? OK, well you're going to have to cover th
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:08AM (#13155034) Homepage Journal
      If you enter into a contract with someone to supply a service and they stop providing that service or inhibit it, you don't just "go somewhere else" you sue the bastards for breach of contract, and/or recommend to others that they don't use that service.
      • If you enter into a contract with someone to supply a service and they stop providing that service or inhibit it, you don't just "go somewhere else" you sue the bastards for breach of contract

        Aaah yes. The American way. Now most people would just ask for a refund for what they paid for the compromised service. But no, in America you sue the bastard for whatever you can get. It might not be right, but it's legal, so they'll do it. It's the American dream.
    • by $1uck ( 710826 )
      If Canada is not that much different than the US. The telco here is going to get itself in serious trouble. If they are going to selectively censor web sites, they are taking on a lot more responsibility than they are probably wanting. Suddenly (at least in the US) they could be held liable for whatever transmitted across their lines(kiddie porn, warez, pirated mp3's etc).

      Lastly it is highly likely they are breaking contracts with the people who lease their lines to provide their own interenet service.
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:21AM (#13155119) Journal
      The bottom line here is, if a consumer does not like the actions that a corporation is taking, then they can vote with their money by using a competing service.

      Bullshit. Did the contract these people agreed to in order to get service mention "oh by the way, we censor websites that we don't like?

      Your "vote with your wallet" crap requires an informed marketplace, which is anathema to today's megacorporations which thrive on lies and greed. This is one of the reasons I pay extra to not get a yearly contract for my ISP: I can't trust them to not pull shit on me with their vaguely worded "bandwidth limits" which they can't just tell me what they are, and other trash like that.
    • ...the problem is that they are considered a "Common Carrier", as such they are simply providing access to what is essentially a public network and as such should not be blocking out anything, unless they want to take on the responsibility of also blocking truly illegal content, like Kiddie Porn.

      Would you expect the phone company to block your home phone from being able to call up a competing phone company to discuss changing service? Essentially, this is the kind of thing that is going on via blocking
    • The consumer can't always vote with his money. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect, and there are such things as 'natural monopolies', where the cost of establishing a competition is just too enormous for society. For instance, back at the advent of telephone companies, you had, say, 50 competitors in a city, each having to pull their own lines through each neighbourhood, resulting in an ugly zoo of wires, and abandoned wires hanging off poles when a company went bankrupt, and you, as the customer, had t
    • Claims of censorship aside, this is really very little different than a DDOS attack. It is an organized and intentional effort to prevent content from being distributed to interested parties by the union web site. They are an infrastructure provider that is actively disrupting the flow of information across their network for the sole and single purpose of denying voice to opponents in a political and legal dispute. Even if that is, somehow, legal in Canada - it is ethically reprehensible, and utterly ina
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @10:17AM (#13155920)

      The bottom line here is, if a consumer does not like the actions that a corporation is taking, then they can vote with their money by using a competing service.

      Great idea, in fact I think I'll string up some cable lines and start a competing service so others can... wait what do you mean I can't? The government has granted them a monopoly on the use of those poles, underground conduits, and publicly owned right of ways to prevent there from being too many lines up? Well now. That's different isn't it? Since they are a government sponsored monopoly I guess the free market can't effectively decide now can it?

      Please in future actually to make sure that when you are rabidly espousing unfettered free market economics that situation you are talking about is a free market, not a government sponsored monopoly. They don't have to compete thanks to the government, thus they have to work in the public interest as much as needed. Censoring their competitors or unions is obviously not in the public interest.

    • by team99parody ( 880782 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @12:27PM (#13157046) Homepage
      however let's remember that corporations "own" assets in ways similar to individuals

      "Own"ing assets does not give you absolute power over what you do with them.

      • Just because an airline owns the plane, it doesn't mean they can throw passengers out the windows. (that's illegal)
      • Just because a landlord owns an apartment, it doesn't mean he can control his residents setting up wireless networks. (that's the FCC's job)
      • Just because a telephone company owns some wires doesn't mean they can re-route calls to their prefered customers (as Sprint was accused of doing in Las Vegas when people called prostitutes)
      Ownership is one thing - but when you have a customer you have to abide by the contract with your customer. For an ISP ("internet service provider") that means "providing" "internet" "service" -- something that they're breaching if they block the union site..
  • by Tinfoil ( 109794 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:04AM (#13155009) Homepage Journal
    Telus is pretty heavy handed at times, but I can see them getting slapped pretty quickly by the authorities. *If* there is illegal activity going on on the website, then they should have followed the proper channels to get it removed properly. Given Telus' attitude towards the ongoing contract negotiation process, it is not at all surprising that they would do something like this.

    I do hope it doesn't last. Dirty pool indeed.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by eyegone ( 644831 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:05AM (#13155011)

    Is it reasonable for an ISP to censor webpages they don't agree with during contract negotiations?

    Is this a trick question?
  • They're screwed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Now that they have demonstrated that they can block a website, they'll be liable for every kiddie-porn and copyright infringement site on the net that they don't block. Brilliant move, Telus.
    • Re:They're screwed (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khrtt ( 701691 )
      No. All they have demonstrated is that they can block access to one, well-known web site. As if we didn't know they could. There is a long way between blocking this and blocking "every porn site" or such like.
  • Reasonable? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:05AM (#13155014)
    Is it reasonable for an ISP to censor webpages they don't agree with during contract negotiations?

    On this side of the Atlantic the answer is a big fat NO. The only exception I could imagine is if the the Union is publishing libelous statements about them. Of course Canadian law may differ.
    • Even than, should they not use the normal legal means, and go to a judge asking to intervene to stop the practices of the union at such a moment? Taking this kind of action is more vigilante action.

  • Sure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ingolfke ( 515826 )
    Is it reasonable for an ISP to censor webpages they don't agree with during contract negotiations?

    It's their infrastructure, they can do what they want with it, unless they have contracts saying they will not. If they want to point every request to zombo.com [zombo.com] they can. That said, if I was one of their customers and found out about this type of censorship I'd consider switching. It seems like a pretty underhanded practice.
    • Re:Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis.gmail@com> on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:11AM (#13155057) Homepage
      Actually they can't because at the point where they take responsibility for the content they're no longer a common carrier.

      It's like if I fly American Airlines to Chicago then go murder 800 people. Did AA "aid a criminal"? No they're a common carrier who flies anyone who is eligible.

      Similarly if Telus takes up the job of filtering and re-routing specific traffic then they're responsible for [say] viruses or other malware I may stumble upon. They're no longer a common carrier if they deny access to legitimate eligible traffic.

      I'm not taking any sides in the strike/business issue. Personally I think quite a few "big corps" are getting away with too much b.s. these days. That said I also think having no job is worse than having a job that doesn't pay fairly.

      Though I guess at some point you have to take a stand and demand your share of the proverbial pie.

      • So, people should start filing lawsuits against them ASAP. They can no longer say that they don't filter content. Obviously they do! Sue the bastards!
      • Re:Sure (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rhsanborn ( 773855 )
        But, AA does have the right to refuse anyone a flight, for no reason. It does not rescind their common carrier status. The CEO of AA could block his uncle Sal from ever flying on that airline, just because.

        I'm not sure blocking access to a website neccessarily takes away their common carrier status. Just because they are blocking a website they don't like, does not mean they have taken responsibility for filtering anything other than this group. It would be an interesting lawsuit.
      • Re:Sure (Score:5, Informative)

        by Holi ( 250190 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @09:20AM (#13155447)
        I don't know about canada but in the US ISP's are NOT common carriers.

        I have said this far to often and I am not sure where everyone gets this idea from but they are wrong.

        ISP's are considered customers in the telecom industry and are classified ESP's (that's enhanced service providers).
        • Re:Sure (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kjella ( 173770 )
          No, they are not common carriers, actually ISPs have been given their own "safe harbor" in section 512 [cornell.edu] of the DMCA. This is often mistaken for being a common carrier under the Telecommunications Act, as the result is quite similiar. Basicly, either censor nothing or censor all.

    • If the Union pushes this Telus could be in deep shit with the government agencies that regulates them to the point of dissolution of their board of governance.

      Telus is going to have 'interesting times'...
  • by DataCannibal ( 181369 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:08AM (#13155035) Journal
    If I have a contract with an ISP that promises me Internet Access then I expect to receive access to the whole Internet, nto for them to hide bits that they didn't want me to see. If I was a customer of this ISP I'd now be thinking "legal action".
  • Mirror (Score:2, Funny)

    by Freexe ( 717562 )
    Does anyone have a mirror, I can't see the site for some reason ;)

    But really, I thought that was what anonymous proxies are for, although they shouldn't be needed!

  • by Council ( 514577 ) <rmunroe@gma i l . c om> on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:09AM (#13155049) Homepage
    Wait, I thought this was a website hosted by the company itself. Certainly they can decide what they do or don't want to host. They can absolutely tell the union to move to union.com [example] or Tripod or whatever.

    Now, if they were blocking the independently-hosted union.com, they'd be where they had no business to be, and that would obviously be wrong. That's what this story implies is going on. But from TFAs I've been looking at, it's that they're deciding what can be hosted on their own servers. Absolutely their right.
    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:27AM (#13155156)
      The union site is independently hosted, they're blocking the site for their own users. The article doesn't suggest that Telus is hosting the site and Telus even claims the contract with their users says that Telus can block any site for whatever reason they like. They also say the information on the union's site is somehow damaging to Telus and endangers their employees. Also the always loved claim of "they're distributing our proprietary information!" without elaborating on what that information is SCO-style.
      • The big problem is that the site purportedly hosted pictures of people crossing picket lines. From my experience with union people, this could be endangering people's safety. Personally, I think Telus should have had the courts force the union to take the pics down, but then they've been having problems there too.
  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:11AM (#13155056)
    The question isn't whether it's reasonable, it's whether it's *legal.* The first question is whether there's any restrictions in CA on what ISP's can censor. If not, the question is whether there's any provision in labor law regarding obstruction of communication - as rare as a case like this would be, I'd imagine not.

    Otherwise, I imagine this is dirty, a bad idea, but legal.

  • stupid move (Score:4, Informative)

    by laurensv ( 601085 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:11AM (#13155059) Homepage
    In any case it's a stupid move to lie to your customers.
    From the union site: "Customers who use telus.net as their Internet Service Provider are unable to access this website due to censorship by TELUS. When support is called they claim not to be blocking access. Television station BCTV Global did a story on the 6:00 o'clock news on this issue. Radio station CKNW also had as story on censoring TELUS customers, after receiving calls from numerous TWU members. Both media outlets are in British Columbia. In both cases, the company admitted to censoring TWU members and their customers." emphasis mine
    From the site of telus: "Throughout this time, we will work hard to minimize the service impacts of the TWU's activities. We apologize for any inconvenience you may experience and thank you for your patience." emphasis mine
  • Who believes that censoring your customers is an intelligent business strategy? Particularly if you are censoring the possibility that Customer Service is being off-shored.
  • by dogsbreath ( 730413 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:13AM (#13155072)
    OK --- TELUS has blackholed VFC and I don't agree with it but let us be accurate.

    The union web site www.twu-canada.ca is NOT blocked.

    The totally unsanctioned site www.voices-for-change.com is blackholed. You can get to it quite easily using a proxy such as guardster. On VFC there are numerous comments promoting physical violence and doing the "nod-nod wink-wink" with respect to vandalism. They are also acting as a kangaroo-court for union members who do not follow the line prescribed by union militants. This is not a black and white issue of intolerance and censorship.

    TELUS still should not block it but I would not condemn them for their actions. The union has done nothing to curb extreme comments and has to some degree encouraged them. When it comes to information Caveat Emptor.
    • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <arkanes.gmail@com> on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:39AM (#13155228) Homepage
      This is not a black and white issue of intolerance and censorship.

      Actually, yes it is. Regardless of the merit or lack thereof of the website. Is the content of the website within the bounds of CA law? Then it's black & white censorship and Telus should fuck off. Is the content of the website beyond whats acceptable to CA law? Then Telus should follow the guidelines established by CA law, instead of taking it upon themselves to censor the content.

      When it comes to information Caveat Emptor.

      Pretty fucking hard to take your information with a grain of salt when your ISP won't let you look at it , is it?

      Telus is clearly outside the bounds of reasonable behavior. If the website is dangerous, or libelous, or any of those other things they claim, then there are clear and effective legal channels to follow. Cutting off access because they don't like it is ridiculous. Moreover, it's stupid, because assuming CA law is similiar to US in this regard (which I believe it is), they just lost common carrier status.

  • Backfire (Score:3, Informative)

    by mmarlett ( 520340 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:13AM (#13155074)
    Well, regardless of whether it should have been able to block the website, in doing so it has drawn far more people to it than would have ever seen it before. Raise your hand if you would've cared about a union website five minutes ago. Stupid, stupid telco.
    • Re:Backfire (Score:3, Informative)

      More importantly: Many people who wouldn't have gone to that web page anyway will now read that their provider censors their net access. And even if they continue to not show any interest in the union's web site, the mere fact of censorship in one case immediatly raises the question what else it might have censored. Note that for this it is completely irrelevant if it actually has censored another web site or not, the mere fact that the idea it might do so goes into the user's brains already may have a dama
  • This may backfire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yogi ( 3827 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:15AM (#13155082) Homepage
    It's a dangerous move by the telco. Up until now, telecoms companies have tried to argue ( quite rightly IMHO ) that they merely provide the infrastructure, and are not directly responsible for the content of websites that they host.

    Here, we have a telecoms company deciding unilateraly to filter a website because they feel like it. If they can filter one, they may find themselves liable to filter all of the others. Imagine the court case

    Lawyer: You must block goatse.ca because it is offensive to all mankind

    Telco: We can't be expected proactively police and block websites: too much information, freedom of speech, etc, etc,

    Lawyer: But what about that time you blocked your union website? You can block "offensive" material when you want to.

    Telco: Um...

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @09:32AM (#13155523)

      Hmm... This is looking like the UK's infamous Godfrey vs. Demon case all over again, but now with the ISP giving up the should-have-been-common-sense defence Demon tried.

      For those who don't know, this was a landmark UK legal ruling from the mid-90s. Godfrey was defamed in newsgroup postings, and sued Demon, a major UK ISP, for hosting those postings. Demon's defence was basically that the postings were made by an unknown individual who wasn't a Demon customer, and they were simply providing access to content accessible to anyone on the Internet, and so shouldn't be held responsible. Essentially, though I don't know whether UK law uses the same term, they were arguing that it was unreasonable for a common carrier to be held responsible for the information they carry.

      Demon famously lost, but they lost on the basis that having been told about the defamatory content they should have removed it from their systems, not on the basis that they shouldn't have been hosting it in the first place. This opened up a huge legal can of worms, because it put all ISPs within the jurisdiction in a position of having to remove any offensive content in the face of any complaint or risk being sued, yet then acting as courts and censoring material without giving the source so much as a right to reply. AFAIK, the resulting legal minefield remains unsafe to this day, and ISPs get shaky at the very mention of the case. On the flip side, the case also seems to confirm that ISPs are not to be treated as publishers, with publishers' liabilities for content, just for providing access to material: the "common carrier" principle appears to be respected here.

      In today's Canadian version, however, it seems the ISP has already given up any pretense of being a mere provider of access to globally available information. If an active decision was made to kill access to a particular web site, it's hard to see how they didn't just make themselves liable by default for every site they allow access to that contains defamation, kiddie porn, or any other $OFFENSIVE_CONTENT.

      How this move was approved by their lawyers, I can't imagine...

  • The Union is paying the ISP to display those pages. If the ISP feels it is inappropriate for them to host those pages, they should terminate the hosting contract with the Union, *NOTIFY THEM*, and allow them to then take their pages elsewhere.

    There's one big 'BUT' in this. They're not blocking the site itself. They're preventing their own customers from accessing that site. The rest of the world can still access it. While the Union is obviously pissed at this, the people who should be outraged are the cust

  • If everyone was using Tor (http://tor.eff.org/ [eff.org] this would all be a mute point.
  • Censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) * <jwsmythe@@@jwsmythe...com> on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:17AM (#13155099) Homepage Journal
    The simple answer is "no".

    My opinion is "no".

    The truth is, even though they're an ISP, they're still a private company (as opposed to say a government entity), and can do anything they want. It's understandable that while involved in a conflict, they'd want to suppress the opposing side. Is it right? Not in the least.

    I don't know Canadian law, and IANAL, but in America I know your Constitutional right to freedom of speech applies to the government supressing your speech. Plenty of people will reference the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" scenerio, but I'll go with this one instead. If you were to go into a Christian church, and draw a circle of protection on the floor (in a non-permanent way, of course), and start a [insert pagan tradition of your chioce here] ceremony, you'd be told to stop, probably not in the nicest terms.

    Is it right for the telco to block the union's site from customers using that telco? No. Can they? Sure. Just like they can arbitrarly block "bad" web sites, spammers email or networks, or even potentially exploitable ports on user machines. They can do anything they'd like with their own equipment, they're under no obligation to provide service to "everything". Of course, when the word gets out that they've blocked something like this, which isn't in the best interest of their customers, it looks very bad for them.

    As I work for an Internet Provider (hosting provider), I consider it unacceptable to block any particular network, and I won't do it. As a journalist and an advocate of free speech, I consider it very wrong. People do wrong things every day, it's up to the customers to make the decision of if they want to patronize a company who behaves this way.
  • ISP "Telus" has admitted that they are blocking all attempts to access a website set

    Now I am not one to be pro-union, actually I am not. But I firmly believe in the freedom of speach and users on Telus aught to just go to Shaw in protest. An ISP that filters legitimate and legally permissable political content from it's users aught to be taken to court to get a huge punitive kick.

    Telus sucks anyway and this is a Telus free household and will remain that way. Maybe once this land line monopoly goes o

  • No... but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mjh ( 57755 ) <markNO@SPAMhornclan.com> on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:22AM (#13155128) Homepage Journal
    No. It's not reasonable for them to restrict access to web pages during contract negotiations. But (as has been previously mentioned [slashdot.org]) this is not censorship. The issue here may very well be breach of contract. If I were a customer of this ISP and I was arbitrarily blocked from any website by ISP policy, I would be looking at my Terms of Service to determine when and where it said they could do that. If it wasn't there, I'd be demanding my money back for every day that they were in breach of the agreement which I paid for. And then there's always small claims court. [about.com]

    But, this is not censorship. This is a service that you pay for and you expect to be delivered to you. Additionally, the union has absolutely no expectation of delivery to customers of that telco. If they did, then services like safeaccess [safeaccess.com] couldn't exist. Every pornographer in the world could run around and demand that parents allow thier children to view porn.

    Is this unreasonable? Yes. And it will likely cost them (lost customers, time fighting with annoyed customers, small claims court).
    • Re:No... but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argent ( 18001 )
      But, this is not censorship.

      Yes it is. You can argue that this is censorship that the Telco has the right to impose (and in fact you seem to be making that argument) but it is in fact censorship.

      Every pornographer in the world could run around and demand that parents allow thier children to view porn.

      Parents have broad rights to censor the information their children have access to. There's nothing inherently wrong with censorship in appropriate circumstances, such as in the parent-child relationship,
    1. Canadian legal concepts around freedom of speech....how different from US 1st amendment
    2. the exetent to which web access is like radio or newpaper where the owner of the media is the one who's freedom of speech is tested when they wish to control what information/opinion is conveyed by their media as opposed to soapboxes and posters on a public wall where the freedom of speech of the party with the [not necessarily popular] opinion/information is tested.

    I'd find in favor of the employer blocking a site th

  • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:32AM (#13155188) Homepage
    between being on strike and being locked-out. A lock-out is the situation where the workers are ready to negotiate a deal, but management refuses to talk to them at all, and refuses to allow them work in the meantime under the old contract.

    A strike is where management is ready to negotiate a deal, but the workers refuse to talk, and refuse to work in the meantime under the old contract.

    It is wrong to suggest that the choice of phrase is made to influence public opinion about the situation. A "lock-out" and a "strike" represent two very different situations.
    • A lock-out is the situation where the workers are ready to negotiate a deal, but management refuses to talk to them at all, and refuses to allow them work in the meantime under the old contract.

      Management has allowed them to continue working without a contract for a number of years now.

      What the union wants is guaranteed job security. Problem is, they're clinging to contracts written back when they were working under a government-owned business with 20 year old technology. Now they work for a for-profit
  • by gus goose ( 306978 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:36AM (#13155216) Journal
    I believe the regulatory body that would be concerned about this is the CRTC (Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission).

    I have lodged a complaint with them at:
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ [crtc.gc.ca]

    Feel free to do the same.

  • by fulldecent ( 598482 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @09:22AM (#13155469) Homepage
    Before you make the argument:
    They are a private company, and can handle internet protocol requests however they want.
    Defend the actions of the company that re-routes request from pepsi.com to coke.com and msn.com to google.com
  • by scotty777 ( 681923 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @09:28AM (#13155499) Journal
    Telecommunications Workers Union [twu-canada.ca] (this is the official union site)

    site blocked to telus isp customers by telus [voices-for-change.com] (this is seen directly, not through proxy)

    blocked site seen through the proxy that they recommend [pfak.org]

    Telus corporate home page [mytelus.com] (this is the isp home page)

    Telus fair use policy [mytelus.com] (part of agreement with telus isp customers)

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @01:11PM (#13157486) Homepage
    I have just had a most frustrating conversation with someone in the Executive offices at Telus.


    They seem to have no idea that their action is plain stupid. Most of you can access the site: it is only a small subset, those of us with Telus ADSL, that can not access it.

    Please help get them on the cluetrain.

    The executive claims that Telus is working with other ISPs to block access to the website, instead of using proper legal channels to force the TWU to remove the disputed photographs.

    555 Robson Street
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    Canada V6B 3K9
    phone (604) 697-8044
    fax (604) 432-9681

    It's worth the couple bucks it'll cost to clue these mofo's in that WE WILL NOT CONDONE SUCH ACTIONS.
  • by Kernel Kurtz ( 182424 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:01AM (#13162791) Homepage
    Not that I agree with Telus' actions, as they are not a judge, but there are questions about the legality of some of the content on the union's website. They are supposedly publishing names, addresses, and pictures of union members crossing the picket lines. I think its pretty likely that this is in violation of both provincial and federal protection of privacy laws.

    It will be interesting to see this go to court.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser