Shaw Cable will charge customers $60 a year for Internet security it used to provide for free.
Despite the price tag, Chris Kucharski, the company’s vice-president of operations, thinks it’s a good deal – even though others like the non-profit Victoria Free-net Internet service provider thinks it’s just a “way of getting more money from people.”
Shaw is replacing its previously free F-Secure software with McAfee security sofware on Nov. 15 and any new customers who don’t buy it, or existing customers who don’t download it for a six month free trial by that date, risk being left unprotected against security threats, said Kucharski, echoing a Shaw email alert to subscribers.
Kucharski said customers – new or existing – don’t need to buy McAfee, which he calls “a really good product” that’s considerably better than F-Secure.
Customers can download any security software they want, including free security software that’s readily available online from a variety of sources, he said.
“We don’t get in the way of customers. (We do) nothing to make it difficult,” he said.
However, Free-net spokesperson Gareth Shearman, isn’t sure Shaw won’t use what he calls “traffic shaping” to make it difficult to download other security software, especially well-tested and proven free software like AVG.
“What they do impacts on their subscribers and how people connect,” said Shearman. “Net neutrality is a big issue.”
Says Scientific America magazine of net neutrality: “The Internet has ushered in an era of largely unfettered access to a wide variety of information. Yet, although so much of what the Internet has to offer is gratis, access to the Internet itself has never been free. This dichotomy lies at the heart of the prolonged and hairy net neutrality debate over what Internet service providers should charge for their services and whate role these companies should ply in managing the flow of information over their infrastructure.”