It was exposed this morning that Canadian Telephone company Telus has blocked all of its internet customers from the Voices for change website. The website has been established by the union members who work for Telus, and who are currently on strike.
This blocking has restricted all users of ADSL on the Telus network, and I suspect some business subscribers as well. While this is a Union vs. Company dispute where Telus accuses the union of posting proprietary information on their website. How ever the move looks suspect considering the recent contract dispute between Telus and the Telecommunication Workers Union.
This recent development is notable for two reasons. It is the first major move by a Canadian corporation that I can recall that involves censoring opinions that differ from those of the company. It is also the first time I have heard of a company using it’s own product to censor information. Secondly it is notable because it demonstrates ISP’s ability to block selected traffic. This is something ISP’s have previously stated they are unable to do when pressed by the music and movie industries to curb online file trading. Although I would like to add that technically speaking blocking a webpage and blocking peer-to-peer traffic is the difference between driving a car, and flying a plane. One is far more difficult than the other.
If ISP’s start censoring content carried on their networks, not necessarily stored in their network, then they may eventually be held liable for any content passing through their network when that content breaks the law.