At the beginning of February, the Canadian government ordered the CRTC to review its decision to allow companies to meter data usage on the internet and charge users based on the amount of data they use. The problem is the original ruling doesn’t make sense.
Data is not finite in the ways that resources such as drinking water are. Data is not something that a country or economy needs to produce, mine or refine. Data is not inherently valuable in itself, as diamonds or barrels of oil are. Data cannot be saved in times of plenty and used in times of scarcity.
Proponents of the metered data use the analogy of water. In countries where a flat rate is charged for a finite resource such as fresh water, this leads to a culture of overuse: people use as much water as they possibly can, simply because if they don’t, someone else will. It’s essentially a use-it-or-lose-it mentality that leads to waste and inefficiency.
In a way, data is the reverse of this. Unused data is inefficient and wasteful. Unused data represents an economy’s sluggishness. We can assume that the more information that’s flowing over the internet, the more valuable ideas are being exchanged and more economic growth can follow.
If the CRTC doesn’t realize that internet use will be the future of a global economy, it will put in place measures that will jeopardize any potential growth to come from inside Canada.
Technological connectedness should be a hallmark of Canadian culture. The CRTC should never again consider plans to meter use of the internet in any way.