The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. The Competition Bureau’s description of ISPs as publishers in the traditional sense is no longer typical of most government thinking about the digital world, but it emphasizes the need for constant education about the new media sector. The thinking is that ISPs have some kind of control over the traffic passing through their routers, and that they can act as some kind of content gatekeeper. The reality, of course, is that ooglebytes of traffic are passed through ISPs every hour, and to hold an ISP responsible for stopping advertising on a foreign web site that may be misleading is ridiculous. Even the gated communities of the web – AOL, Rogers/Excite, and Sympatico – are porous pipes into the home. With a click of the button, AOL users can leave the relative safety of the service to use everything the Internet offers. These ISPs can control the content they post to their aggregated sites, but would have no chance of controlling, or even really knowing, where a customer visits once away from the service. Smaller ISPs, of course, don’t control any content. They are no more than access points. The volume of traffic through their gateways precludes any kind of monitoring for, of all things, advertising. Traditional publishers can be held liable when they don’t verify the foreign advertising they print or broadcast. Print, TV and radio publishers create the final pages and shows viewed by consumers. They are in full control of what gets disseminated. ISPs, however, exercise no control over the final page viewed by an Internet user. The Competition Bureau may not understand that, but mis-applications of law represent a significant hurdle to continued growth in the sector. We hope the Competition Bureau’s current consultation on guidelines for the sector bring this fact out and correct the situation. Now, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers will have to educate the bureau about the role ISPs play in the Internet, and that’s a headache its president Jay Thomson doesn’t need.