Rogers VP Calls for Canadian Government to Shutdown VPNs, Enforce Copyright

The Content Industry Connect conference was held in Toronto yesterday and featured speakers such as TV executives from Rogers, Bell, Shaw Media and Corus.

According to live-tweets of the conference, Rogers senior vice president David Purdy made comments that caught the eye of law professor Michael Geist.

Specifically, the Rogers VP called for the Federal government to shut down VPN access to Canadians and also enforce copyright, according to the following tweets on the web by media policy expert Kelly Lynne-Ashton, Bell Fund program manager Marcia Douglas and the conference organizers themselves:

It appears Rogers is frustrated with Canadians accessing U.S. Netflix using VPN services. By doing so, Canadians bypass the exclusives Rogers has in its own streaming service, shomi.

Professor Geist says Rogers should take up the VPN issue with Netflix directly and not consumers. He concludes how a ban on consumer VPN usage would lead down a slippery slope:

Instead, focusing on consumer VPN use by suggesting that the solution lies in blocking legal technologies in order to stop consumer access is a dangerous one. Countries like China have tried to regulate VPNs, while Iran and Oman have tried to ban them. A Canadian attempt to do so would be subject to an immediate legal challenge, particularly since virtual private networks are widely used within the business community and play a crucial role for consumers in preserving user privacy, enabling access to information, and facilitating free speech. There is no indication that the Canadian government has any interest in targeting VPNs, but it comes as a shock to hear a Rogers executive calling for them to be shut down.

Earlier this year, reports of Netflix cracking down on VPN and proxy users caused a stir but the streaming service–which has 57 million users worldwide–responded with the following, denying it was making any changes:

Virtually crossing borders to use Netflix is a violation of our terms of use because of content licensing restrictions. We employ industry standard measures to prevent this kind of use. There hasn’t been any recent changes to the Netflix VPN policy or terms of use.

Netflix is surely aware there are plenty of Canadians using VPN services to access their U.S. library. But whether they will do anything to stop these users is another thing. According to Media Technology Monitor, their recent study indicated 29 per cent of English speaking Canadians subscribe to Netflix.

What do you think about the Rogers’ suggestion to ‘shut down’ VPN usage in Canada?

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