Most Canadians are unaware of an emerging threat
to their ability to access web-based information and services, according to
data released.

A poll conducted by Leger Marketing found that Canadians are generally
unaware of the concept of “net neutrality,” the principle that Internet
service providers should not be allowed to impose restrictions on the web
content or applications consumers can access. The concept of prioritizing
Internet traffic or “traffic shaping” has been proposed by Internet service
providers as a way to fund the upgrade or expansion of their networks.

The study, commissioned by eBay Canada in June, found that although just
34 per cent of Canadians are familiar with the term net neutrality, 67 per
cent agree with the principle once it is explained.

The study found that three in five Canadians concur that Internet service
providers should be required to treat all content, sites and platforms
equally. Two-thirds of Canadians disagree with the proposal that Internet
service providers should be allowed to impose additional fees for access to
specific content on the web.

“Canadians are anything but neutral when it comes to the freedom of the
net,” said Alexandra Brown, head of communications and public affairs at eBay
Canada. “Reducing consumer access means reducing the ability of Canadian
Internet users to reach a global market. The Internet is the silk route of the
21st century: Canadians want it to remain open to everyone.”

The Internet has historically been governed according to the principles
of openness and non-discrimination. Net neutrality is the current regulatory
policy of the U.S. and Canadian governments, but it is currently under review
by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and will form part of the CRTC’s
New Media Project Initiative, which will review the telecommunications
regulator’s stance on Internet traffic prioritization.

Canadians are in widespread agreement about the economic value to Canada
of the Internet, according to the Leger Marketing survey. Fully 81 per cent of
Canadians agreed that consumer access to an open Internet is in the best
public interest.

The survey revealed the following facts about Canadians’ attitudes to net

– Almost three in four Canadians support the current government policy
that requires Internet providers to offer net neutrality. Net
neutrality is supported equally by men and women.

– Younger Canadians (18-34) and those with higher education are more
likely to agree with the principles of net neutrality than older
Canadians (83% vs. 60%).

– Canadians aged 25-34, those with children and professional Canadians
are even more likely to support the current net neutrality policy.

The Leger Marketing survey found that most Canadians support government
intervention to protect consumer access to the Internet:

– 76% of Canadians (including 70% of Conservative supporters,
79% Liberal and 86% NDP) believe the federal government should pass a
law to confirm the right of Internet consumers to access publicly
available Internet applications and content of their choice.

– 77% of Canadians agree that net neutrality policies protect the
rights of Internet consumers.

– 63% of Canadians believe the market should determine the price
consumers are willing to pay for Internet access.