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Canadian Telco Admits to Blocking Union's Website

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the well-no-duh dept.

Censorship 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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Now down for the rest of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13154990)

So before it was only blocked to a select group of people. Now it is effectively "blocked" to everyone.

Re:Now down for the rest of it (5, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155129)

No, its working fine - (you may be on a line leased by Telus to a 3rd party, but Videotron (another Canadian ISP) customers can see it no problemo ...

Of course, Telus just opened up a big can of worms: The Canadian Constitution (1982) guarantees freedom of expression (including on the internet) as a fundamental right:

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
c) freedom of peaceful assembly
d) freedom of asociaton
Seems pretty open and shut - Telus is going to get its ass wupped.

Re:Now down for the rest of it (0)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155153)

Seems pretty open and shut - Telus is going to get its ass wupped.

If I'm a bookstore owner, I should be able to refuse to sell books for -any- reason I want, even if that reason is because the book is the christian bible. If I'm a publisher, then I should be able to refuse to publish a book, even if it is only because the book contains interracial marriage.

Telus should be able to provide or not provide access to websites as they wish, unless they've agreed otherwise with their customers (or have been given a monopoly by the government). So no, I wouldn't say it's open shut.

Re:Now down for the rest of it (5, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155179)

Look at the differences between a book store and Telus:

  1. Your book store isn't a regional monopoly. Telus is.
  2. Your book store isn't a common carrier - Telus is (but may have just jeopardized that status)
  3. Telus isn't hosting the site - its blocking its paying customers from seeing a site critical of it - this would be like the book store physically preventing its customers from shopping elsewhere for books "because it can"
Telus - their motto is "The future is friendly" - my guess it should be changed to "Telus - The future is Telus-friendly, citizen!" T

Re:Now down for the rest of it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155182)

Then they're not a common carrier, and are responsible for everything they DO publish/transmit.

Including all the spam, kiddy porn, hate speech etc.

Re:Now down for the rest of it (2, Interesting)

XTbushwakko (535540) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155197)

Well, if you are a bookstore you shouldn't be able to sell a book, except a few pages of it that you don't agree with!

No. (4, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 9 years ago | (#13154991)

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

They should simply.. (4, Insightful)

bcore (705121) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:They should simply.. (3, Insightful)

empaler (130732) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155069)

That one, I like. That's a really good one.
You want control? Sure, you've got it. But you get responsibility (liability), too...

Re:They should simply.. (2, Insightful)

laurensv (601085) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155081)

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?

Re:They should simply.. (1, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155198)

One thing I've learned is that different Western countries abide by different concepts. The US concept of common carrier might not be the same in Canada.

Re:No. (4, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155061)

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. (1)

terrymaster69 (792830) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155089)

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. (5, Insightful)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

TW

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

typical (886006) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155159)

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 least amount of data. Instead, though, cell providers would prefer to be able to price discriminate based on application usage. So instead of being a data transport service, they retain their vertical monpoly.

I mean, if I could get away with it, I'd do it too. It's profitable.

Re:No. (2, Interesting)

Super Nicko (896630) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155160)

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. It would be outragious.

It might be that the situation in Canada is different; however, if one company can stop at this, then why not bigger companies and even governments?

Easy answer - No (1, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#13154993)

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

No.

Re:Easy answer - No (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155017)

Great minds think alike.

Even after I read the article, I still think the same too.

Re:Easy answer - No (1)

adamjaskie (310474) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155040)

"Is it reasonable for an ISP to censor webpages [for any reason]?"

No.

wooo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13154994)

first post?

Reasonableness (-1, Redundant)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 9 years ago | (#13154997)


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


I'd have to go with "No"

Is it their network? (2, Insightful)

one_who_uses_unix (68992) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155002)

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 within reason of course).

Re:Is it their network? (5, Interesting)

adamjaskie (310474) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155022)

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.

Re:Is it their network? (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155087)

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.

Re:Is it their network? (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155034)

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.

Re:Is it their network? (1, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155104)

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.

Re:Is it their network? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155175)

Did you ever notice the amount of kids in the playground who'd claim they'd sue you for this and that? Well there are a lot little kiddies in suits in the US... In Canada we do things with dignity, suing someones ass off is not an option.

Re:Is it their network? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155194)

Why isn't it right? They've breached contract. They should've fucking thought of that before they started fucking their customers over.

I can't believe you have any compassion for people who breach contract. Or, should I say, companies. Something tells me you would have a HUGE problem if a person breached contract.

Don't sign it if you don't mean it. Pretty fucking simple concept. Even worse, for Telus, is the fact that they wrote the fucking thing.

Re:Is it their network? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155043)

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.

hahahaha, there is NO competing service here. go vote with your stupid wallet somewhere else, because it doesn't work for giant monolithic monopolies like Telus. they just don't give a shit about us and they don't have to in order to stay in business.

Re:Is it their network? (3, Insightful)

$1uck (710826) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155066)

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.

Honestly free speech should carry over to communcation channels regardless of who owns them.

How would you like it if the phone company monitored your conversations and censored what they thought was inappropriate (it'd be illegal). But are you honestly advocating that you should just switch phone companies? //is the parent modded insightful, for the mere hint of libertarianism?

Re:Is it their network? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155112)

FYI, that's not libertarianism, that's corporate shill-ism. Libertarianism is individual freedom, corporate clamp-down. Corporations have no rights under libertarianism, that's why LP is so bad at the polls.

Re:Is it their network? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155187)

Heh, the LP is so bad at the polls because quite a few of the people who call themselves "libertarian" publically are just corporate shills. If the party wants to take over, it needs to eject these so that they can begin to solidify as a party representing individuals, and not just "lets abolish the FDA so that big-pharma can use people as test subjects, then when everybody dies, burn the paperwork and pretend nothing ever happened so stock prices don't take a hit".

Re:Is it their network? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155070)

I agree, but, Telus is a regional monopoly so people in some large areas in Canada have no choice but to use Telus.

Re:Is it their network? (1)

Percent Man (756972) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155116)

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.

Your thoughts on private censorship vs. government censorship are dead-on; however, when it comes to "using a competing service," that can be hard to do for some of us. Here in Podunk, GA, USA the utilities have a monopoly by and large in their respective fields. It's a "use-us-or-don't-use-anyone-at-all" kind of deal.

But then again, is this the right context to look at Internet access? Has the Web truly become a utility as important as water or power? In centuries past even running water was considered a "luxury" and not a necessity; have we in the last decade added bitslinging to our society's list of must-haves?

Re:Is it their network? (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155119)

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.

Re:Is it their network? (1)

imstanny (722685) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155138)

I couldn't agree more. If I'm providing you with a paying service you don't like, cease doing business with me.

How very super capitalist of you... (2, Insightful)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155140)

...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 web-site of something that doesn't directly benefit this telecommunications provider.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155150)

If customers are lied to, they cannot vote with their money. I bet this ISP "forgets" to tell their customers of their abuse behaviour when they sign up. They do not get to know the truth about what they buy. If Telus was honest, they would instead show a page saying: Telus has censored this page, in our own best interest. And: When you sign up, you do not get the right to access our employees unions website. I bet customers of this fraud get to see 404's.

Re:Is it their network? (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155176)

When the government is behind censorship that is different - if something is publicly funded then it should publicly available (generally speaking and within reason of course).

FYI - Telus used to be called "Alberta Government Telephones" and in fact are predominantly a government backed monopoly. In such cases it has the fudiciary responsibility to be impartial to the services it provides and cannot be allowed to decide who and what web site are allowed on it's own biases. This is Natzi like behavior.

We Albertains should not let this go, as the next thing we are going to say is that native indians can fish the rivers but white boys can't.... ooops - we already do that. Maybe this is a government issue.

And the answer is... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155005)

No! ;)

I can't see this lasting (4, Insightful)

Tinfoil (109794) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155009)

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.

Why Not ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155010)

Cant the union ust pick another ISP ? Why should one party in the dispute give the other party a helping hand ?

The customers, not the union (2, Insightful)

bcore (705121) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155065)

The problem isn't that Telus is hosting the union's website, it's that Telus customers (as in, the public at large who chose to use telus as an ISP) are being blocked from the union's website.

Huh? (2, Funny)

eyegone (644831) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155012)

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.

Reasonable? (2, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Reasonable? (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155163)

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.

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155020)

Censoring this content is them taking responsibilit for what is on their servers. by them doing so, they admit responsibility for everything they host.

anyone want to bet they are hosting a score of illegal software, and are participating in something illegal, somehow.

Doing this is opening them up to a big mess of legal problems.

and they are total dicks.

Re:well (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155131)

Actually, they're not hosting the content, so they're not censoring the content. They're censoring access to the content for their customers (because I'm not one of their customers I can access it, if I were one of their customers, I wouldn't be able to access it). Which is oh-so-much-better. Because now they can be sued for any porn a minor access using their service (if they don't then block that website for that customer). I wonder if they spoke with their legal department before they made this move. And if so, they should get a new one.

response (1)

bart416 (900487) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155023)

They shouldn't be allowed to do that.
They should atleast give the abbilety to turn of that 'filter'.

Down with Unions! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155024)

Doing my part to help slashdot this site. :) I'm sure this story was submitted by an executive in the company who wanted the site taken down for good.

I think an ISP can block whatever they want, and I think customers can vote with their pocketbooks.

Sure (2, Insightful)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155025)

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 (5, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155057)

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.

Tom

Re:Sure (1)

BigDogCH (760290) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155149)

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 (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155193)

Basically yes.

Essentially now that they're not a common carrier they're liable for every bit of kiddie porn, viruses, phishing email, etc, you name it.

They're acting out without thinking of the consequences of their actions and people have to take them down a notch.

Tom

woah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155102)

http://zombo.com/ [zombo.com] rocks!

Deeeep caca! We're talking revocation of licence (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155103)

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'...

Halfwit troll (1)

kmmatthews (779425) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155201)

Uh, no, they can not do whatever they want with it AND keep thier common carrier license. One or the other.

No it's not reasonable (4, Insightful)

DataCannibal (181369) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155035)

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".

Re:No it's not reasonable (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155094)

Yes, in theory.

But ISPs already regularly block parts of the net.

Outgoing port 25 for instance. Or maybe they block known spammer blocks from connecting to their net. Or maybe they block some binary newsgroups on their news server.

I agree with what you are saying, but the same people that are bitching about this probably accept "less than full" internet access anyway.

Not only no (1)

huded (874134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155037)

but HELL NO!

The ironic thing is that their actions show they are afraid of what's posted on the pages, so when people gain access to the content through other media they are much more likely to believe any claims or statements made on the site.

Stupid move on phone company/isp part

Mirror (2, Funny)

Freexe (717562) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155041)

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!

Correct me if I'm wrong (3, Insightful)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155049)

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.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong (5, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Of course they can (0, Flamebait)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155054)

They are a private ISP and can provide access or block access to whomever they please.

Reasonable? No. But that doesn't matter (3, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Reasonable? No. But that doesn't matter (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155204)

I suspect it's probably legal. But on the other hand, I suspect it would also be legal for the ISP's customers to ask for their money back, since they are paying for access to the internet and not getting it.

stupid move (4, Informative)

laurensv (601085) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155059)

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

How NOT to do Customer Service (1)

Captain Kirk (148843) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155062)

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.

They hava a contractual obligation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155063)

to provide access to the internet unless explicitly stated otherwise in their terms of service. Also if they do get into the censoring business they start incurring all kinds of liability if the censoring doesn't work. That's why ISPs usually have issues with goverment mandated censorship if they think they're too exposed on liability.

Loss of Common Carrier status? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155064)

I would think the last thing an ISP would risk is loss of Common Carrier. This is their legal defense against all those nasty charges and lawsuits over what flows over their wires. Once they demonstrate they're filtering, they can/should be criticised for "well, you didn't filter xxx..."

Common carrier status (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155071)

Not only should they not do this, it should probably jeopardize thier common carrier status since they have taken it upon themselves to choose what thier users can access.

Let's be accurate here (3, Informative)

dogsbreath (730413) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Backfire (2, Informative)

mmarlett (520340) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

This may backfire (5, Insightful)

yogi (3827) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155082)

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...

NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155085)

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

Do they wish to keep their freedom from prosecution as a carrier, or will they accept being a "content providor" and thus liable if someone posts illegal material on their network?
Can't have it both ways...

Of course not. (1)

Cooper_007 (688308) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155088)

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 customers who wanted unmeddled access to the internet. If the contract they have with the ISP allows the ISP to block sites, they have a contract under which the ISP has become responsible for the content they have access to, and is liable for allowing access to content the user by this contract shouldn't be able to.
Basically, the ISP has stomped its big foot on a legal hornets nest, and by all likelyhood is about to get stung.

Cooper
--
I don't need a pass to pass this pass!
- Groo The Wanderer -

Onion Routing (1)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155091)

If everyone was using Tor (http://tor.eff.org/ [eff.org] this would all be a mute point.

Oh Candada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155093)

You crazy Canadians aye.

Censorship (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155099)

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.

Power of the phone company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155101)

How is this any different from, say, blocking access to the union HQ's phone number? This *is* the phone company, after all.

more complex reasons (1)

spectrum- (158197) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155105)

Assuming they're not breaching any terms of conditions and use of the ISP, its hard to make any case for that action.

However as with all these sorts of stories, its probably a bit more complex than it first seems. For example there may be issues that there are probably issues regarding whether the employer would continue using the services of that ISP should they not comply with their wishes. In otherwords, financial blackmail of sorts.

no...but good (1)

imdylbert (856454) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155106)

While I agree that the ISP should not be censoring content. I am of the opinion that anything that pisses off a union is a good thing.

In the USA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155108)

It's against the law for a common carrier to engage in such activities. They're not the police.

Use someone else (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155120)

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 out of business we can get a more service orientated company to replace it.

Unions are old and broken.. (-1, Flamebait)

GrBear (63712) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155124)

If your pro-union, you'll probably mod me down, but the reality is unions have no place in modern society. Sure, they were useful 30-40 years ago, but now it only serves to protect senior staff (those to old to find another job) and the lazy (those who want to maximize their income for minimal labour).

If you don't want to work that badly because you feel your being mistreated, then find another gawd damn job! I don't know where YOU live, but the unemployment rates in Canada have been the lowest I can ever recall seeing, and lots of opportunity for employment.

I respect what the Gainers meat packing plant did for it's workforce that regularly went on strike.. they said, so you don't want to work, fine, we'll just close the doors perminently and you'll all be out of work.

Like come on, why should a grocery bagger that's been working at a union store for 10 years make $25/hr just because he unionized. And they can't figure out why prices are so damn high. The only time I'll shop at one of those unionized stores is when they're on strike, just so I can snub the picketers on the way in and out of the store.

Yes, I hate unions.. an antiquated tool from days gone by.

uhh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155125)

Did anyone else read the subject as "Canadian Taco?"

I really need caffeine in the mornings, don't I?

No... but... (3, Insightful)

mjh (57755) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155128)

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).

Point of View? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155133)

- - - who is currently "on-strike" or "locked-out", depending on your point of view...

Either the union went on strike or the company declared a lockout. Which one is it?

wow: two questions I have no clue about (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155135)

  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 they hosted but IMHO its an unwarranted censorship for them to keep their own customers from finding information just because they, the ISP, do not and would not choose to host that page or site.

Safety issue.. (1)

pci (13339) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155141)

based on what the article says, I agree with Telus's decision to ban access to the site. I think it's wrong to publicly post someones picture just because they crossed a picket line to support their family. I also think Telus is correct is trying to limit negative messages about itself onto its own network.

Re:Safety issue.. (0, Flamebait)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155202)

1) "based on what the article says, I agree with Telus's decision to ban access to the site."

Telus is full of shit. The union's site doesn't appear to contain pictures of scabs. I went through all the photos on the 'On the Line' site, and there were many pictures of smiling pickets, one picture had a picture of two managers watching smiling pickets, and none were of scabs crossing picket lines.

2) "think it's wrong to publicly post someones picture just because they crossed a picket line to support their family"

The people on the picket lines are trying to support their family too. Scabs are the fucking traitors who side with the bosses to make life more difficult for everyone.

A burglar only attacks you and your property once. A scab helps make each and every working day of your life worse than it was before.
Hope this helps.

Mod me -1 Flamebait if you like, I've karma to burn :)

Currently no customers of the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155148)

Currently no customers of the Telco's ADSL service (or any other ADSL service provider who leases lines) can access the union's webpage.

Now no one can, with the exception of the admin in his smoke-filled server room.

strike vs. lock-out (2, Insightful)

carmaggedon (873905) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155171)

from the introduction: "(who is currently "on-strike" or "locked-out", depending on your point of view)"
grammar aside, a strike vs. a lock-out is not simply a matter of opinion, although in some cases both can happen at the same time. (a strike is when the workers walk out, and a lock-out is when workers aren't allowed to work.) it's hard to tell which is which in this case, although the article made reference to both. clearly it started with workers going on strike. since the union is saying that management was trying to push through a non-negotiated contract, and since one of the accusations from management is that the website they're blocking was putting up pictures of scabs for the purpose of harrassment, it seems more likely that this is a strike only, and not a lock-out.

Who implemented the blokcing rule (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155183)

If the employees are on strike, who then implemented the blocking rule in the firewall???

If I was working there and they ask me to do that while my colleages are on strike, I do not think that they will ever talk to me again when they are back.

There is a difference (4, Insightful)

Peyna (14792) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155188)

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.

Re:There is a difference (1, Insightful)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155212)

Please mod +1 Insightful.
thank-you.

From my point of view (1)

beyonddeath (592751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155192)

If i had to choose, and i wish i could, i would still use their internet access over the "rogers extreme edition" i have now. however i do not have a landline so can not get dsl from telus or any of the other providers. What results is voip that is lower quality than a cell phone from the 80's. If i could have dsl, even with some filtering, it would be better than the dialup that rogers is providing me for 50 bucks a month.

What are the labor laws in Canada? (1)

karlandtanya (601084) | more than 9 years ago | (#13155195)

Over here, I suspect the NLRB would have a field day with that little stunt.


Any Canadian lawyers care to comment?

If the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13155199)

unions are going to blackmail the companies, then the companies should blackmail the unions.
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