Show us your .CA contest

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Today, CIRA launched the ShowUsYour.CA contest, and it’s not like anything we’ve done before. We’re inviting all .CA website holders to make a short video about why their .CA website is the best.

There are more than 1.3 million .CA domains out there, and each one of them has a story. In my opinion, there’s no better way to celebrate those stories than to have the website owners tell them through video.

We have some great prizes – in addition to the potential everlasting fame! The grand prize winner will receive a 15 inch MacBook Pro and be featured in a future .CA marketing campaign. The first runner up will receive a 64GB iPod Touch and the second runner up will walk away with a Flip UltraHD video camera.

In our last contest, we asked .CA holders to submit written testimonials about why they chose .CA. It generated more than 4,000 entries, and the winners have featured prominently on our our website and in our advertising. We heard the most fascinating stories, like Mike Hambly a visually impaired Canadian who has used his .CA website brailleit.ca to run a small business; or Anne Marie Thornton whose .CA website carpool.ca has helped tens of thousands of Canadians organize thousands of energy-saving carpools.

Follow the contest on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook and view the entries on our YouTube channel.  The contest details, including the rules and regulations are available here.

More importantly, I encourage you to make a video and submit it. Tell your story and have fun doing it – you just might win!  You better hurry, though; the deadline for submitting videos is March 15. Voting begins March 19 and is open to everyone.


Internet Exchanges

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Recently, CIRA became a member of the Ottawa Internet Exchange, or OTTIX.   Fundamentally, OTTIX is a network bridge between Ottawa-based organizations, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), universities, large corporations, and government. This network bridge results in local network traffic taking shorter, faster paths between member networks, alleviating congestion on major Internet backbones.

What does this mean for CIRA’s stakeholders?

When it comes to reaching most Canadians, we now have a more direct route on the Internet from our servers to theirs. This could mean the difference between data crossing 10 circuits and 10 devices to crossing just two or three. If your ISP is connected to the OTTIX network, your emails to other members of the network, such as CIRA, will be faster, and members’ websites will load faster – albeit by fractions of a second – on your computer.

The true benefit, however, is that participating networks have more reliability by way of an additional route to the .CA infrastructure.  This means that even if huge swaths of the Internet experience a disruption in service, the OTTIX network would experience no disruption whatsoever. And, if there’s a disruption in the OTTIX network, we now have the public Internet as our backup method.

Internet exchanges exist all over the world, and have proven to be integral to a nation’s Internet infrastructure. At a CIRA-hosted cyber-security event in 2008, Bill Woodcock of Packet Clearing House spoke about his participation in the mitigation of the two-week long cyber-attack on Estonia in 2007 by Russia. Woodcock talked about how Internet Exchanges played a critical role in limiting the impact on Estonians’ ability to communicate with each other – while the attacks slowed Estonians’ communication with the outside world, there was little impact on domestic traffic.

We have maintained a similar setup with Canada’s largest exchange, the Toronto Internet Exchange (TORIX), for years.  With our new relationship with OTTIX, CIRA is now linked with two of the very few Internet exchanges in Canada – the total number is hard to come by, but most estimates peg the figure at three to five. Other nations around the globe have up to dozens of Internet exchanges. What does this mean for Canada? Simply put, a significant amount of Canadian Internet traffic flows south of the border to the U.S. before reaching its destination in Canada. More exchange points in Canada would ensure that Canadian traffic stays in Canada more of the time, ensuring a safer and more robust network for all Canadians.

The European Internet Exchange have put together a great video that explains Internet exchanges.

How do you feel about Canadian Internet traffic having to flow to the United States?


Internet Service Provider: Gatekeeper to the Internet?

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Last week I blogged about the three strikes approach that some countries are looking at and that may be a part of the Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement (ACTA). While that post focused on some of the potential issues around taking such an approach in the context of the ACTA, it also brings to light a trend I think we’re starting to see – the Internet Service Provider (ISP) as gatekeeper to the Internet.

In last week’s post, I talked about the trend of suspected illegal file-sharers being met with a graduated response from their ISP, possibly leading to the ISP suspending their access to the Internet for a period of time. This is a very controversial approach for many reasons, not the least of which is that it can place the ISP in position of being in a dispute with customer.

This issue isn’t confined to the ACTA. The Australian federal government has recently given ISPs the authority to boot people off the Internet if their computers are suspected of being infected with malicious software that sends spam or attacks other computers.

Let me be perfectly clear: I believe that illegal activity on the Internet must be stopped, be it illegal downloading of music or movies, unlicensed online pharmaceutical trade, or child pornography. I also believe that steps need to be taken to control spam (a topic I will blog about soon) and malware. However, I do not think it is in the best interests of Canadians to have ISPs making the decisions about who gets access to the Internet, and who doesn’t.  I’m also sure there are many ISPs who are less than enthusiastic about being placed in a position of conflict with their customers.

What do you think? Should ISPs have the authority to boot people off the Internet?