Since its inception, the world wide web has been a free and unbiased source of information for worldwide users. However, as the internet closely follows the rules of the world we live in, it has also come to be much different than it was originally designed.
Lately, there has been a lot of panic online regarding the subject of net neutrality. People all around the world have protested against the end of net neutrality, and for a good reason.
You have probably come across more than a couple of headlines claiming that net neutrality has been repealed. But do you know what this means for the internet and its users?
After the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality in December 2017 and the rules took effect in June 2018, internet users became concerned for the privacy and freedom they would no longer have online.
However, some people still aren’t sure what the term net neutrality stands for and how its repeal could affect them. This article will explain everything regarding this topic, including how you can solve this issue on your own.
What is (was) net neutrality?
Network neutrality, or net neutrality, was the principle which required internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all internet communications equally. Based on it, all internet users should enjoy the same connection speed, no matter the location, content, application, platform, or website.
The term ‘net neutrality’ was coined in 2003 by Tim Wu, a media law professor at Columbia University. The term was only an extension of the concept of a common carrier, which is why net neutrality is also known as common carrier regulations. However, the original term has become obsolete.
With the net neutrality law enforced, ISPs couldn’t favor any websites or products. That is, they couldn’t slow down, block, or charge money for any online content. This law made it illegal to give preference to certain digital content providers as all data had to be treated equally.
As a result, the internet was an impartial platform for all users and content creators, ensuring the best experience for everyone involved. Money, status, or influence didn’t allow ISPs to interfere and give preference to websites.
It was a great system that worked well and benefited all internet users. But was it too good to be true?
Net neutrality repeal
After a long battle against net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission managed to repeal it. According to the FCC, this action was taken so internet freedom could be restored. At first, this might seem like something people would fight against, but some major corporations have supported the decision.
Corporations such as Comcast, Cox, and Verizon are happy with the reversal and are even planning to go one step further. They are looking to block states from setting up their own net neutrality laws. Although some members of the Senate are now trying to reverse the decision, they haven’t had any luck so far.
People are concerned that this means internet service providers will now be able to enforce bandwidth throttling. It is a process of slowing down internet connection speed so users can’t access certain sites with the same speed they could before the repeal.
Consequences of repealing net neutrality
For now, the consequences of repealing net neutrality are still unknown to us. We can’t be sure about what could happen, however, there are speculations about what the future of the internet will look like.
Most internet users agree on three possible scenarios. Not only are these outcomes likely to happen, but they are also very concerning.
- Bandwidth throttling. As mentioned before, people are concerned their ISP could throttle their bandwidth, resulting in a slower connection, or even inability to access certain websites
- Limited download speed. Prior to the net neutrality law, ISPs often limited download speed to free up bandwidth on the network. Because of the repeal, many people believe that this will become standard practice once again
- Fundamental changes in pricing. Internet services could start to sell packages based on website accessibility, similar to cable TV plans. For example, if someone wanted access to a large number of websites, they would have to buy a more inclusive and expensive package
It’s evident the repeal of net neutrality will hurt internet users. However, you might be wondering who will benefit from it. After all, the FCC would never have reversed the law if there wasn’t someone who came out as a winner.
Although it definitely doesn’t benefit individual users, it does help big corporations.
Broadband companies have publicly stated that the net neutrality law was unnecessary and too restrictive. Before the repeal, companies promised they wouldn’t throttle bandwidth, even if the law was reversed.
However, some executives have changed their minds and have said there is a possibility of offering paid-priority services at some point in time. With this, their revenue stream will increase significantly.
Large content providers such as Netflix and Facebook will also benefit from this, as they’ll be able to pay for faster speed and have an upper hand over small/startup content providers.
The Senate is currently trying to restore the net neutrality law to what it once was. But you may be wondering what will happen if they don’t succeed. A handful of corporations will come out as winners, while everyday users will be at a disadvantage.
Websites will become slower and bad connection will become a problem for anyone who doesn’t have enough money to access sites they once visited without any limitations.
How to go around net neutrality repeal
There’s no denying that the end of net neutrality is frustrating for all internet users. We’ve already pointed out who it could hurt and why it’s dangerous. If nothing changes concerning this repeal, the internet as we know it will change for the worse.
People who understand the weight of the situation are starting to panic, trying to think of a way they could keep their online privacy.
However, there is a solution and a way to get around all of this. Using a VPN or a proxy helps you deal with privacy issues and avoid slow internet connections altogether.
By getting proxies, you can be sure you’re surfing the internet freely, without any bandwidth throttling. This would certainly be one of the best ways to be online and have the speed you want, without worrying that someone could be monitoring your internet usage.
How does a VPN help?
When you use a VPN, your ISP can’t monitor your network traffic, meaning it can’t see which services you’re using and which websites you’re visiting. And since your ISP won’t be able to read your traffic, it also won’t be able to give you targeted ads or sell your information to third parties.
This is great for internet users because if their ISPs don’t see their internet activity, they won’t be able to charge you for the sites you visit or block your access to other websites. And although it might seem drastic, it has happened in the past that some websites were slowed down or even banned.
Your ISP should see your VPN as nothing but ordinary traffic. However, in some countries such as Russia and China, VPNs are under tight control or even banned. We can’t be sure what the future of VPNs will look like in the United States, but there is a possibility that something very similar might happen.
Luckily, VPNs are still legal and not under anyone’s supervision. Therefore, many people have already started using VPNs to protect themselves from their ISPs. This isn’t the first time people have fought against the death of net neutrality with the use of VPNs.
The first attempt by the FCC to kill off net neutrality happened in April 2017. According to Gmail’s former marketing manager, internet entrepreneur Ariel Hochstadt, this caused VPN sales to increase by 170%.
Thanks to VPNs, people can have access to the internet without any censorship and throttling. After all, that’s the way the internet is supposed to be. As long as the net-neutrality law is still repealed, there is no other way to guarantee internet freedom.
The Senate may be able to restore net neutrality, but if they don’t succeed – it’s best to know how to protect yourself and your online presence. Thanks to VPNs and proxies, you can make sure that you’re using the internet the way it was meant to be used.