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

Reader Comments

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  1. icon
    Violynne (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 10:46am

    There's nothing Purdy about shutting down VPNs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 10:53am

    if there weren't the artificial blockades put in place to suit the various services and companies and there weren't any geo-blocking or hold ups for releasing media, THEN there wouldn't be any need for VPNs, at least not in the normal public sense of the word. as it is, it's the actual media producing companies and the broadband providers that stop people from getting to see or listen to the media they want, when they want, just as it is with different regions for releasing movies and music. these various services want to be able to control what is available, when and where if they were to stop all this copyright infringement and stopping downloads nonsense, everyone would be able to get what they wanted, when they wanted. it's the fault of the various service providers that we are in the crap heap we're in!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Richard (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 10:55am

    less controllable

    Shut down commercial vpns and watch the traffic move to even less controllable and more informal mechanisms - Tor, freenet etc

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 10:59am

    This exec from Rogers is crying because private VPN's have ate into a once very profitable segment of Rogers business.

    The whole reason private VPN's are doing so well is because of their pricing of which Robbers -er Rogers hasn't been and isn't that competitive price wise compared to other VPN services.

    I am sure Robbers would love to have private VPN services booted or shut down thru legislation. It would improve Robber's own VPN service as well as their version of Netflix called Shomi.

    Yes Robbers has more than an alternative motive here, Netflix has a good chunk of the Canadian market, so much so that Robbers launched Shomi and Bell launched Crave TV to compete with Netflix.

    Everyone knows there are people who use VPN's not only for private companies to allow their employees to work from home or a job site thru VPN's and tele conferencing, and private VPN's beat Robber's on their price and home users like VPN's for privacy and to avoid some of the country restrictions you will find with services like Netflix.

    The fact that Robbers is using copyright enforcement to whine about having VPN's abolished is beyond a joke. Rogers customers service much like Comcast sucks and they continually rank low in customer service for a reason.

    Rogers is a very profitable business at the expense of their customers, but they are their own worst enemy due to their pricing and the way they treat the customer.

    This guise of using copyright to get rid of competition that hurts their bottom line and just shows you how much they don't like nor have a desire to copmpete and are stuck to the monopolistic way they used to have over their customers

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 11:00am

    "then can have a viable business"

    If everyone else has to be burdened to support your business, your model SUCKS.

    Perhaps rather than just declaring them evil, look at why consumers use them and figure out how to make them unneeded.

    More hurdles are a bad thing for the bottom line, as people will find a path that is easier to use. How screwed up is what you are doing when people are willing to jump through tons of hoops to still use the "legal" services... and you don't think they will get fed up and take another shortcut? Maybe do less blow at the next board meeting because you have got to be high.

    Artificial barriers have had a shitty run, save the money you spend trying to erect yet another one and put it into making the path smoother.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Jessie (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 11:18am

    I bet Rogers uses a VPN to access their internal networks. Perhaps they should lead the way and stop using theirs first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    AnonCow, 2 Mar 2015 @ 11:21am

    Why is the content flowing over my Internet connection anyone else's business? Porn or spreadsheets. Either way, none of your business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 11:26am

    So, Canadian citizens should simply ingore the law and continue using them anyway, if such a ban is enacted into law.

    VPN on the network of proxies, if they are oustide of Canada, are NOT SUBJECT to Canadian law.

    I run such a VPN on my computer. And since it is in my apartement, in California, in the Untied States, it is only subject to United States laws, and I am thererfore, NOT SUBJECT to any Canadian laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 11:47am

    In the US he'd be an investment banker

    Strange; Canadians are allowed to buy groceries and other services across the border. Why should television be any different just because it competes with David Purdy's business?

    If Rogers can buy a US cable network - as they've done in the past - shouldn't Canadians be allowed to buy a Netflix subscription? For that matter, Rogers buys individual shows and entire channels from the US, to carry on their Canadian network. These compete with Canadian shows and channels. If a carrier gets a legally enforced right to no foreign competition, should the TV channels and show producers have the same right?

    Speaking of no-competition enforcement, a few years back Rogers Cable filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent Shaw Cable from acquiring Mountain Cablevision of Hamilton, Ontario, on the basis that Rogers and Shaw had effectively agreed to divide the country in half, Rogers in the east and Shaw in the west. This suit was defeated on competitive grounds and the Shaw acquisition allowed to proceed. And so in 2013 Rogers announced it was purchasing what was Mountain Cable, to put it under Rogers control.

    If David Purdy wants legal reform regarding competition in his industry, fine. Just so long as that reform includes the arrest of Rogers executives if they carry on business as usual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 11:58am

    Let's just outright ban and shutdown the whole entire internet and have no internet whatsoever because the internet can be used to commit copyright infringement by downloading copyrighted media. /sarcasm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 12:21pm

    Re: less controllable

    "Shut down commercial vpns and watch the traffic move to even less controllable and more informal mechanisms - Tor, freenet etc"

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 12:22pm


    No need for the sarcasm mark, as that is what the entertainment industry wants. Their vision of the Internet is cable TV delivery on a regional basis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 12:29pm


    Why stop there?

    Lets just ban all digital storage so no one can pirate anything!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 12:32pm


    It does have a 1-to-1 relationship for their proxy servers. If they have 10,000 customers viewing the same youtube video, they can cache it and save bandwidth. If 10,000 viewers watch it in a VPN, they carry the content 10,000 times.

    I'm not saying that justified killing VPNs, but it does increase their bandwidth requirements significantly.

    Besides, how will I watch Doctor Who on the BBC in the UK without buying BBC America if they shut down VPNs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    David Muir (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 1:01pm

    I hope it is not TechDirt readers who are attacking the Twitter users quoted in this article. They were merely livetweeting the conference and reporting what the speaker was saying. They are trying to emphasize now that they DON'T agree with Purdy's stance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 1:32pm


    Besides, what if Rogers wants to start DPI-injection of ads again? VPN could rather put a bit of a damper on that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anon, 2 Mar 2015 @ 1:34pm

    Small Pond Big Fish Petulance and Tantrums

    Several good points -

    First, I connect to a VPN service in the USA (and London, and...) What could Canada possibly do to prevent that, other than play cat-and-mouse games based on blocking IP addresses over and over? (Yeah, there's a sure winner) Even if they blocked DNS entries locally, just switch to Google's

    There are other ISP's - Bell, Telus, MTS, etc. - who aren't likely to spend as much effort doing what Rogers and Shaw want. (Much of Canada has the option of cable or phone company internet) What better way to enhance your ISP business than to be the choice that blocks things when your competitor won't?

    Second, if Netflix enforces regional discrimination, how does that work? Currently, if I'm in the USA (or appear to be) my Netflix account allows me to access content Netflix is licensed to distribute to the USA. Ditto, in Canada or UK I get the content my IP address indicates Netflix is licensed to deliver in that country. Perhaps the MPAA failing is licensing material differently in each country for a "world Wide" Web service.

    Rogers/Robbers is puking sour grapes. They have cornered so much of the market up here, it irritates them to be shown for the guppies they are in the real world. They tried to get the CRTC (FCC for Canucks) to pry proprietary data out of Netflix. They are buying up content in hopes of then attacking Netflix through its suppliers - like any company is going to cut out Netflix revenue to make Canada-only licencees happy.

    Also point out another flaw of Canada's "little pond". The cable companies also buy up media, shows, and other content - and own wireless. So for example, a Rogers cellphone customer gets free NHL hockey broadcasts anywhere in the world over the web; leverage ownership of sports content to enhance the cell business. Imagine if NFL cost a fortune unless you had Comcast cable or Verizon wireless... that's the direction Canada is headed.

    I presume a major reason for the SHOMI and CRAVE offerings is so these guys can buy up exclusive Canadian licenses and try to cut Netflix out of the market. In the days of Satellite TV blockades, there were gray-market Dish sellers and services that would forward your subscription payments from a USA address if necessary. Why would VPN blockades be any more successful?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Small Pond Big Fish Petulance and Tantrums

    "if Netflix enforces regional discrimination, how does that work?"

    Probably like it works right now. Netflix specifically forbids the use of VPNs to connect to their service, and if they catch you, they will disconnect you. They apparently don't put a ton of effort into doing this, but they catch people by monitoring connections that come from certain VPN IP address ranges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 2:09pm

    Re: 1-to-1

    So that's what, an algorithmic, geometric, logarithmic, exponential increase??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 3:41pm


    You know that Roger's own VPN is actually run directly via the NSA btw?

    THATS the entire reason they hate other VPNs..because they get paid cold hard cash for every customer they 'trick' into using their VPN, and funnelling all their data directly to the NSAs (illegal) collection centres.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 3:53pm

    Ban VPNs because of copyright? LOL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Heyman (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 4:30pm

    You have to be a subscriber to other services in order to use shomi. "Currently, shomi is available to Rogers and Shaw Internet or cable customers".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    ECA (profile), 2 Mar 2015 @ 5:10pm


    Can I say,
    the only reason he is there, is because he wants a bigger pay check.

    Can we now ADVANCE into the future(past) and send sats up to send channel signals (FOR FREE) to everyone in the USA?? and Canada?? AND mexico??

    LEts REALLY piss off cable and sat..
    lets take ALL the money away from them..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2015 @ 5:33pm

    Purdy: Me boss now

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Guardian, 2 Mar 2015 @ 8:57pm


    sorry bud they passed a while back a law aimed at going after kiddy pron overseas done buy and supported inside canada ....its basically saying that what ever you do anywhere in the world canadian law applies, if you are inside canada...

    the upside is that .com crap if you live in ontario your domain is property and if the usa tries to seize it without a court order in canada it is theft and you could sue them here civilly and possibly criminally.

    It would however mean that if they banned vpn use without a backdoor spy ability for business use, then it would apply everywhere....

    ALL this means is i drop using net and go buy some crack and join a biker gang....

    im not giving the govt my money nor rogers no matter what they wish fuck them....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Guardian, 2 Mar 2015 @ 9:00pm


    um no i have a log file and audio tape of them admitting that it is in fact the fbi that manages a large portion of rogers cable and in fact most cable co's security....i dropped them a long time ago , if you use rogers enjoy a foreigner peeking at your pc and you ask how i learned this....

    i made a custom firewall and they cut my service off "because they could not see inside my computer"

    should tell you about how protected you all are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    impossible and stoopid, 3 Mar 2015 @ 12:09am

    impossible and stoopid

    can banks or high tech companies have safe communications without a VPN?
    at the end the law would be something like :
    "only friends of the government can use vpn's"

    something like:
    "VPN registration and licence... please"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Simon, 3 Mar 2015 @ 4:58am

    Goes both ways...

    What about all the Americans clamoring to get to his Showmi service...? Oh, wait...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2015 @ 5:38am

    Largest Consumer of VPN Access - Business

    Literally all, 100%, more than the majority by alot, of businesses use a VPN to conduct business off-site or outside of their corporate campus so Purdy... you're... astoundingly retarded.

    Good luck keeping your shitty business running!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 3 Mar 2015 @ 6:06am

    Re: Largest Consumer of VPN Access - Business

    Here in NY, the business with the "best" VPN service is... Hospitals. Breaking

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2015 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re: Largest Consumer of VPN Access - Business

    Most businesses run their own VPN. VPN is just service that lets you tunnel into another network. Invaluable for conducting any sort of business, healthcare or otherwise confidential communications.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 3 Mar 2015 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re:

    Hang on now, people were pirating in the analog age as well. To be truly effective we'd need to ban expressing things in permanent form; you know, anything that would be copyright-able.

    It's the right thing to do, for too long the copyright industry has been destroying the business model of live theater, orchestral recitals, and living statues. Being unable to record and pass on the wealth of human knowledge is a small price to pay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. 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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Gence Nointeli, 11 Mar 2015 @ 8:59am

    Restricting VPN use

    A VPN is the equivalent of blinds on your home's windows. A lot more real crime goes on in the homes of the world, yet no one has spoken out against blinds and curtains.

    I cut the cord 6 yrs ago. I propose that citizens protest by reducing their cable service to the lowest level possible or eliminate it all together. Thanks to digital over the air TV broadcasts a small antenna even inside the home can pull in many channels crystal clear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Gence Nointeli, 11 Mar 2015 @ 9:27am

    Re: less controllable

    If VPNs get banned, Tor will likely be included.
    The future of cable: One day you open your bill and find an announcement that says your monthly cable services fee now only entitles you to only 100 hrs of cable supplied TV per month. (remember that 18 minutes of commercials per hour is the norm).
    After 100 hrs you pay $3.00 per hour plus a $25.00 fee for going over your allotment. Larger blocks of hours are available at a higher fee.
    Would you keep your service? Most wouldn't.
    Well the Internet is already like that for a lot of people. You pay for your connection, and pay extra if you go over your data allotment. And you pay on top of that for access to any service like Netflix, which will be the likely reason you go over your data allotment.
    Stop the madness! Cancel your cable service. Get an antenna for over the air TV broadcasts. Use public WiFi hotspots. With a range extender antenna I can reach from my home 6 local WiFi Hotspots from Wal Mart, McDonald's and 4 Coffee Shops.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2015 @ 9:22pm


    If this stupid country didn't allow them to have their little monopolies they'd have to compete and service would be much better. I'm ashamed to live here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    jamesvang86 (profile), 26 May 2015 @ 12:52am

    Re: Re: Re: less controllable

    VPN is nothing doing except give less control to the authorities. According to the United Nation Internet is free and everyone can use it up to it's requirements. I am using ipVanish from VpnRanks here in Canada and enjoy my internet freedom.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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