Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


Mike Zajkom, Telecom Tension: Internet Service Providers and Public Policy in Canada, ISPs, regulatory landscape of Canadian ISPs


The world of telecommunications, writes Mike Zajko in this timely analysis of internet service providers (ISPs), “is a world many of us have never wondered about, just as we are rarely curious about where our sewage goes or how the electricity grid is configured.” Yet ISPs are not just conduits of fast-traveling light pulses that deliver the internet; they transmit, channel, form, and express a multitude of public policy issues, and they have an important level of agency in the construction and exercise of those policies, too. These dynamics have implications for a large bandwidth of topics relevant to Canadians, including the market, competition, education, socio-cultural development, and security. Applying a sociological framework interwoven with historical and legal analysis, Zajko’s Telecom Tensions describes the internet as contemporary society’s “connective tissue” and examines the ways in which ISPs serve as its “intermediaries,” constituting social relationships of control and power. He provides insight into an infrastructure that is often invisible (the banal fac ̧ ade of 151 Front St. West in Toronto serving as an illuminating metaphor for this lack of visibility), which nonetheless bears heavily on our broader social wellbeing.