Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, July 27, 2005
# 10:37:00 PM:

The continuing Telus website blocking saga

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Business hours are long over in Alberta, so I expect if I get another phone call from Telus about their blocking the pro-union website (actually, more than one), it will be tomorrow. I should say at this point that for the most part I have always been quite satisfied with my Internet, telephone, and cell phone service from Telus, and I was, until this week, not on one side or the other of the labour dispute.

Anyway, since I also sent email to Telus through their usual customer contact form, I received a reply from Technical Support (who likely don't know about the phone call from head office) as well. It's a form letter, which others have received too:

----- Forwarded message -----
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005 18:29:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: TELUS Internet Services Support
Subject: Re: Internet access inquiries
To: "Derek K. Miller"

Hello Derek,
TELUS has prevented access to voices-for-change.com from TELUS.com or
TELUS.net IP addresses.

This independent web site, which is hosted by a service provider outside
of TELUS, was blocked because it publishes confidential TELUS documents,
photos of TELUS team members who have chosen to continue to work, and
instructions on how to carry out harmful actions that impede TELUS?
ability to serve our customers.

While the web site remains operational, TELUS has blocked access to the
site to protect our employees, our assets, and reduce activities that
are clearly designed to limit our ability to provide the highest level
of customer service possible.

Access to the Telecommunications Works Union website
(http://www.twu-canada.ca) is not impacted by the above.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you for choosing TELUS as your Internet Service Provider.

TELUS Internet Services
Technical Support Help Desk
Alberta and BC: 1-877-310-TECH (8324)
Email: helpdesk@telus.net
Home Page: http://www.mytelus.com/internet/
"24 hours 365 days for you"

Here's my reply:

----- Forwarded message -----
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005 22:36:52 -0700
Subject: Re: Internet access inquiries
To: TELUS Internet Services Support

> This independent web site, which is hosted by a service provider outside
> of TELUS, was blocked because it publishes confidential TELUS documents,
> photos of TELUS team members who have chosen to continue to work, and
> instructions on how to carry out harmful actions that impede TELUS'
> ability to serve our customers.

Can you tell me:

(a) Whether you have contacted the website operator to see if the
material you object to can be removed, if you consider it illegal?

(b) If that has not worked, whether you have contacted the hosting
provider to ask them to remove any illegal material?

(c) Whether you have contact police or attempted to obtain a court order
for the material you consider illegal to be removed?

(d) What other sites you're blocking that you haven't told me or your
other customers about?

If the website is acting criminally or inciting criminal behaviour,
there are legal avenues available to Telus. If it is not, you may not
like it, but you shouldn't be blocking it -- especially because anyone
who wants to see it can use the available mirror sites, or another
Internet provider, and you're therefore not really preventing anyone
from viewing it. Not only that, but in your own terms of service you
write:

http://www.mytelus.com/internet/policies/TISAA.do

"37. You acknowledge that the TELUS Internet Services provide access to
content, information and materials that are uncensored. You acknowledge
that some of the content, information and material that is available
through the TELUS Internet Services and the Internet may be inaccurate,
offensive, harmful or in violation of applicable laws."

I understand that the rest of your terms of service and acceptable use
policy allow you to block this site. That doesn't mean you're right to
do so, or that you should, or that customers like me will tolerate it.

I work for a company that makes web-based software, and while I'm
representing my own personal views and not any of that company, your
actions here are telling me that, if an ISP such as Telus decides it
doesn't like what companies like my employer put on our websites or in
our software, then you might start blocking us from our paying
customers. I don't like that precedent, especially because Telus has
used the argument that you are a common carrier -- and therefore not
responsible for material people access over the Internet through you --
in legal proceedings in the past.

Now you're contradicting that. Should I believe what Telus has argued in
court (and which I believe to be correct), or what you have done when
push comes to shove (which I believe to be wrong)?

All you're doing here is giving yourself bad publicity, and making
people like me think of switching to other carriers for our
communications services. Over the rest of my lifetime, that's probably
something like $100,000 in revenue from my household alone that you're
looking at losing, never mind what decisions my children, family, and
friends make about telecom providers in the future.

Is that worth it?

Here is some further commentary that agrees with me.

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