Last week an executive from Canadian cable provider and ISP Rogers suggested the banning of VPNs at an industry conference in Toronto, which the ISP has since denied.
Rogers senior vice president David Purdy was speaking at the Content Industry Connect conference, which was also attended by execs from other big companies like Bell and CBC.
Purdy spoke on how the government should act to ban VPN providers in the country as well as means for pirating content like BitTorrent. A number of journalists and other Canadian media industry figures were in attendance and tweeting along:
Purdy – need the govt to shut down VPNs, enforce copyright then can have a viable business #cicto
— Kelly Lynne Ashton (@klashton27) February 26, 2015
— Content I Connect (@CICConnect) February 26, 2015
Purdy has been criticized for his remarks and challenged over the cable industry’s failure to adapt and keep up with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Asking to ban legal technologies because they can be used illegally is ridiculous and only shows your ignorance. #CICTO
— Sean Cull (@seanreloaded) February 27, 2015
A recent study also showed that a staggering number of Netflix subscribers in Canada are using VPNs, who use the services to access the US version of Netflix and the content that they want.
Michael Geist, a Canadian lawyer who regularly comments on matters of online privacy in the country has come out in criticism too of the suggested ban.
“If Rogers is upset over VPN use to access U.S. Netflix, it should take it up with Netflix,” he said. “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.”
It appears though that Purdy was speaking on his own behalf rather than on behalf of Rogers who has since come out to deny that it holds these views.
In an emailed statement to TechVibes, a Rogers spokesperson said:
“Dave Purdy did not say the government should ‘shut down’ VPNs, nor did he say that we should have the ability to block over the top services, which is not our view,” she wrote. “In fact, he noted that more regulation is not the answer to the current challenges facing the broadcast industry, which has always been our position.”
Geist said any attempt to block VPNs in the country would be met by legal retaliation as the services are mostly used for legitimate means.
“There is no indication that the Canadian government has any interest in targeting VPNs, but it comes as a shock to hear a Rogers executive calling for them to be shut down,” he added.