Election 2015 Tech Watch: Rural broadband and crowdsourcing to save our Internet

Canadians will go to the polls in a federal election on October 19th, following one of the longest campaigns in Canadian history. And the IT sector is sure to play at least some role as the parties roll out their policies and trade barbs on the hustings.

At ITBusiness.ca, our regular Election 2015 Tech Watch feature will highlight any IT-related issues or policies that pop up on the campaign trail and, when necessary, correct the record.

Our first report busted the idea of a Netflix tax, but this report has some actual, real tech-related policy from the campaign trail to share with you.

The first comes from the governing Conservative Party of Canada. At a campaign stop Wednesday in Lanchaster, Ont., Stephen Harper pledged an additional $200 million to improve broadband Internet infrastructure in rural and remote Canadian communities. According to a report from CBC News, the money would be in addition to previously-announced support for rural broadband and would be distributed over seven years.

The Harper government has set a goal of bringing high-speed Internet to 280,000 homes by 2017, and says it will exceed that target by reaching 350,000 homes by the target date.

“Fast, reliable internet today is essential to realizing economic opportunity and to creating jobs,” Harper said at the announcement. “We know that when communities big and small are wired for success, hard-working, enterprising Canadians can get in there with the best in the world and succeed.”

Save our Internet

As more and more Canadians have broadband Internet access, what are they going to do with it? It’s with that question in mind that digital rights group Open Media has released Canada’s Digital Future. It’s a crowd-sourced election platform based on the ideas of some 250,000 Canadians about digital rights in Canada.

Open Media won’t be endorsing any political party in the election, but it’s encouraging all parties to borrow their ideas and will be reporting to its members which parties are most committed to implementing elements of its Canada’s Digital Future platform.

“Whether it’s telecom price-gouging, reckless spying legislation, or abusive copyright notices, failed digital policies are hurting Canadians,” said OpenMedia’s communications manager David Christopher, in a statement. “Young people in particular are speaking up for a better way forward, because Canada can’t afford to keep falling behind our international counterparts. That’s why this election will be the most important Canadian Internet users have ever faced.”

Platform initiatives include opening networks to allow more independent carriers to compete for customers, protect the public domain by allowing content creators to remix, reuse and recycle content into new works, and increase the oversight of government surveillance and spy agencies.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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