Bell Canada sued for throttling

May 31, 2008

Bell Canada sued for throttling Bell Canada is being sued by a group of angered Quebec residents, accusing it of false advertising and privacy violations.

Electronista posted about The group, L’Union des consommateurs (UDC), filing a class action suit against Bell Canada. This is in part to the ISP’s traffic shaping during peak hours. Bell claims ‘constant’ speed in the ASDL contract but when throttling is done, speeds of course won’t be consistent with non-peak hours.

Bell is also using a technology called deep packet inspection (DPI) which L’Union claims is violating users’ privacy. Though DPI can be used to prevent hacking or spam, the fears are that it is being used to spy on users or censor where Bell thinks ‘warranted’.

UDC is seeking 80 percent of customers’ monthly subscription fees, a further $600 for false advertising, and $1,500 as compensation for privacy violations.

With traffic shaping becoming more prevalent around the world, this would be an interesting case to watch. With the demands for bandwidth and the insistence of providers offering all-you-can eat plans which they can’t really support well, a victory for UDC would be a victory for disgruntled broadband users everywhere.

But bandwidth is expensive and demand is growing faster than some ISPs can cope with. The recent list of ISPs practising traffic shaping has garnered significant attention but will the practise stop any time soon? Highly unlikely. What ISPs can do is to be upfront about their traffic shaping acts and be clearer in their TOCs about what customers will really be getting.

The original French report by CNW Telbec can be read here:

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