Help      |      Chebucto Home      |      News      |      Contact Us     

160. Halifax Internet Town Hall

By Andrew D. Wright

Privacy on the Internet. Net Neutrality. Copyright law and Digital Rights Management. The Digital Divide.

These are four of the hottest topics on the Internet. Governments around the world have been passing laws determining what people can and can't do online. Internet access is no longer something that can be taken for granted. Change is coming, but what will be driving it?

At 7 PM, Monday, October 26th, 2009 the Chebucto Community Net and the Dalhousie Student Union will be hosting a public Internet Town Hall meeting in the McInnes Room of the Dalhousie Student Union Building, 6136 University Avenue in Halifax called "Who is Shaping Your Digital Future?"

This is the only meeting of its kind in Atlantic Canada, one in a loosely organized series of such meetings being held across the country. It's your chance to come out and hear about these issues from the experts and let your voice be heard. Admission is free and the general public is welcome.

The Digital Divide is the reason that this column and the Chebucto Community Net exist. It's the idea that everyone should have access to the tools of communication.

Whose child will do better in school, the one with home access to the Internet or the one waiting for limited time at a public terminal? The Digital Divide used to be about simply getting any Internet access, and to some degree it still is.

These days it's become more of an issue of who can afford access and what price do they have to pay for it? Senior citizens, people on assistance or disability and low income families are some of the folks who have to make sacrifices in their lives to get online. For some, even public access is not an option and they are getting left behind.

Net Neutrality is the idea that corporations who own parts of the Internet backbone should have to play fair with network traffic. They should not be able to make some traffic faster and other traffic slower. They should not be able to redirect traffic and make some web destinations they control work better while other web destinations they may not like don't work as well.

Privacy is something that we Canadians have largely taken for granted. In the USA and in the UK there essentially is no online privacy. In the UK the government can jail you for refusing to give them your private encryption keys. You are not allowed to keep anything secret from them if they want to know it. In the USA, data can be seized any time it crosses their border, without any further notice. The Canadian government may soon bring in similar laws.

Of all the hot-button Internet issues, Copyright and Digital Rights Management are among the most contentious. What is fair use? When should rights expire? Is the strict enforcement of copyright ultimately damaging to our culture and our society?

These are heavyweight questions that will be shaping all our lives in the years to come. Canada's time as a net "safe harbour" may be drawing to a close.

The Internet Town Hall will be hosted by CBC's Costas Halavrezos.

The keynote speaker will be Laura Murray, co-author of "Canadian Copyright: A Citizen's Guide".

Topic speakers include David Fraser, Chair of McInnes Cooper's Privacy Practice Group; Dalhousie Philosophy Professor Darren Abramson; Terry Dalton, Chair of ACORN, the Atlantic Canada Organization of Research Networks and me, Andrew D. Wright, from the Chebucto Community Net.

Please come out and make your voice heard. There will be people listening.


The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email or click here. If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 14 October 2009


Our community is online here!


This column is provided as a community service by