Rogers Exec Pouts About VPNs, Publicly Dreams Of Canadian Ban

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Over the years, many folks in the broadcast and entertainment industries have made it increasingly clear they'd love to see tools like VPNs or proxy services made illegal. Sure, both are perfectly legal and have a myriad of valid purposes, but because they can allow users to dodge anti-piracy snooping efforts (like the not-really effective U.S. six strikes program) or geo-blocks (like say watching Netflix in unsupported countries) -- apparently they should be outlawed entirely. You know, like in Iran -- and now Russia.

Canadian law professor Michael Geist notes that several Rogers, Bell and Shaw executives recently gathered for the Content Industry Connect conference in Toronto. There, Rogers Senior Vice President David Purdy spent some time complaining that VPNs "aren't fair" and -- according to at least one attendee -- suggested that the government should think about banning them. You know, just because:
Rogers' "me too" streaming video service Shomi isn't really resonating with consumers, and blocking Canadian VPN/Netflix users would certainly be easier than actually competing. As Geist is quick to note, it's unlikely that the Canadian government is going to want to wade into the minefield of banning VPNs, so all Purdy managed to do is make him and his company seem somewhat narrow-minded and unnecessarily aggressive:
"If Rogers is upset over VPN use to access U.S. Netflix, it should take it up with Netflix. 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."
After Geist posted a number of attendee Tweets citing Purdy's disdain for VPNs, a Rogers spokesperson denied that Purdy said anything of the sort, lamenting that it's "hard to communicate a discussion via Twitter." I've yet to find a transcript of the comments (and Purdy doesn't appear to be responding to media inquiries), but given Rogers' ugly history as a front-runner when it comes to net neutrality violations, quietly dreaming of a ban on VPNs certainly wouldn't be out of character for the company.

Filed Under: canada, competition, copyright, david purdy, privacy, vpns
Companies: rogers


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  1. identicon
    Anun'Roh'Tep, 3 Mar 2015 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Re: less controllable

    "They'd just limit connections to "approved" addresses."

    They'd try, but it would probably be an expensive and time consuming logistical nightmare to create a white list that is always up to date and accurate. Quite a few federal agencies use VPN's themselves as well, many of whom operate their own. VPN technology doesn't exist because of piracy, it exists due to the necessity of security and privacy. Banning it would be like banning locks on all private dwellings (i.e. utterly stupid).

    It might be worth pointing out that not everyone has "cut the cord" either. I still subscribe to my (rather expensive) cable service provider, whom is also my internet provider fwiw. Mostly I keep it around for those days when I'm bored with nothing better to do, plus it helps assuage any guilt I may feel about torrenting. Anything I download can also be recorded via my cable box at some point, so I don't really see the difference.

    Trying to keep track of shows via their cable box is a real PITA. They tend to pile up as well, at least until I have some time off to catch up. Since they don't provide enough storage space, this creates a bit of a problem and even though they do have VoD services, these involve extra costs and aren't really worth it for the limited content they provide. Even if bittorrent and services like Netflix weren't available, I'd probably still refuse to use their overly expensive VoD service.

    To be perfectly honest, if they were to ban VPN usage, I'd stop subscribing to their cable service immediately and likely drop down to the cheapest internet package they have or better yet switch to their competitor. I'd rather live without any television programming than put up with those kinds of limits imposed on me. After all, it's my money.

    Bittorrent makes everything super convenient IMHO. It's incredibly easy to keep track of and manage shows this way, which means I never miss an episode, unlike with my cable service whose listings aren't always accurate (which their PVR relies on), and I can watch my downloaded content at any time I wish day or night. In other words I'm willing to pay for content *IF* they offer a service that meets or beats what we can get from a half way decent torrent site. Surely it can't be that hard for them, can it?

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