Libraries have always promoted the right of individuals to acquire information according to their interests. The library exists as a central public avenue for the acquisition of information and remains a place where the free exchange of ideas can take place.
In the digital age libraries provide universal public access to diverse digital content and are increasingly public Internet service providers and consumers.
Access to broadband Internet services for all Canadians
Access to broadband Internet presents Canadians with the widest range of opportunities to conduct business, learn, innovate and communicate in the international digital marketplace. The Internet allows governments, educational institutions and private companies to provide direct services to the population no matter where they are in Canada, thus eliminating geographical barriers.
CARL believes that access to reliable and affordable high speed Internet is in the interest of all Canadians. We strongly encourage government initiatives that further broadband Internet access to all Canadians, regardless of their geographic location and financial means.
Broadband Internet services in every community are a goal of the Government of Canada since 2000, a commitment reaffirmed by successive governments. However, this objective has not yet been reached.
High Internet service prices are a burden for all Canadians, regardless of income. They are notably a financial drain for small businesses and students, engines of today’s and tomorrow’s economy.
According to the OECD, Canadians pay more for broadband services than consumers in most other developed countries.
CARL members strongly encourage governments to support libraries’ role in providing affordable Internet access to all Canadians.
- Read CARL's brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (April 9th 2013).
The Internet provides infinite learning opportunities by connecting individuals worldwide but also blurs the line between the private and public spheres, raising a number of privacy concerns.
Libraries through their role of enabling access to information have a longstanding commitment to protecting the privacy of their users. Canadian Association of Research Libraries members have an ongoing interest in ensuring that individuals can research freely without undue invasion of their privacy.
Research libraries are central points for the acquisition of knowledge and provide a space for the free exchange of ideas. They protect their researchers’ privacy and have guidelines for cooperating with law enforcement agencies. As such, we strongly urge parliamentarians to protect Canadians’ right to online privacy.
Lawful access returns
The Government of Canada recently introduced Bill C-13, legislation that includes several provisions that would significantly expand law enforcement powers. One such provision (Section 487.019) offers immunity to Internet service providers that agree to disclose private information about users to police officials. CARL is concerned this measure might encourage ISPs to disclose information without a judicial warrant or the user’s informed consent.
We believe that Canadian Internet service providers and the government should remove barriers to Internet access. All regulation of Internet services should treat any content, sites, and platforms equally while maximizing the Internets development as a useful public information network. Libraries have long recognized the Internet as a digital commons and CARL supports the increase of variety and access to Internet technologies.