Top 5 Net Neutrality Myths and Misconceptions
On December 14, 2017, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal a 2015 regulation commonly known as Net Neutrality. Even public opinion about the matter is fraught with controversy. New York State contends that thousands of its residents’ identities were stolen as part of a cyber security scam. Thousands of New Yorker’s names were used resident’s names to leave public comments on the FCC website. Global corporations like Airbnb, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, and Twitter are amongst those that support free and open internet.
What is an ISP?
An ISP is your connection to the internet. The acronym stands for internet service provider. For most home internet users, an ISP is the same as their cable television provider or their cell phone service. Household ISP brands are Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable.
The argument against Net Neutrality is that broadband providers could not charge a setup fee for their own competitors that are using their infrastructure. Under Net Neutrality the ISPs must bear the costs of infrastructure or pass the costs along to customers.
The 2015 regulations got started because Comcast was throttling Netflix internet traffic. Comcast then billed the on-demand film service to set up server hubs to host their content and serve it faster. Netflix paid the fees and Comcast stopped throttling Netflix movies served on Comcast equipment.
- Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will threaten to throttle or block access by competing services like YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, Hulu or websites like Google.com in order to collect more money
Net Neutrality is a set of regulations that hit the books in 2015. We are not going back to the dark ages, just taking a step back to the way it was working, as a free market, two years ago. Another reality is your ISP has been serving you slowly all along. Do you pay for 100Mbs but only see somewhere between 30 to 50 Mbs download speed from your router? Yeah, me too. It’s not going to change anytime soon.
- Net Neutrality stops the government or private corporations from spying on my internet activity
Cold hard reality time. Under Net Neutrality your ISP had the right to throttle illegal content, but could not throttle legal content. That’s the only way an ISP can ensure that the photos, music, movies, etc… customers are downloading isn’t violating any copyrights is by spying on your web surfing habits. Under the new rules the ISPs do not have to ensure your content is legal. However, ISPs were allowed and still are allowed to (and do) snoop your web activity and they can sell that data to other companies. Your web surfing behaviors are valuable to advertisers!
- No Broadband Regulation is Needed
Regulation of the broadband industry is definitely needed. However, the 2015 regulations were written with exploitable loopholes. According to the former Net Neutrality page on the FCC website (BTW you cannot see that page anymore because it redirects to the Restoring Internet Freedom Act) an ISPs had to determine if your web surfing contained legal content. This means the ISP had to be reading your activity to know if it was legal. Make sense? This behavior opens customers up to legal investigations and data privacy issues. Since the data is already farmed by the ISPs, law enforcement can ask the ISP, bypassing you the customer, for your internet history without a warrant.
- The repeal of Net Neutrality means that ISPs are going to charge me to see websites on a case by case basis
The mere idea that ISPs could handle to administration and billing of the millions of websites in existence would far outweigh any financial benefit. Individual websites could never compete with internet giants such as Google or Facebook.
- Net Neutrality has been repealed
It hasn’t (yet!) Although the FCC voted to repeal Net Neutrality in December 2017, the repeal has not taken effect yet. The vote was immediately challenged at the Appellate Court level so the repeal cannot go into effect until the court cases are settled.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is a Federal Communications Commission regulation passed on February 26th, 2015. The FCC reclassified broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Net Neutrality is the concept that internet service providers should serve all traffic, regardless of source or type, at the same speed without prioritizing, throttling or blocking. Types of internet traffic include streaming music services such as Spotify, video bandwidth such as YouTube, movies from Netflix, or web surfing websites. For example, because Netflix and Comcast both sell on-demand movies, Comcast (the ISP) could slow down or block Netflix movies served to Comcast customers.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers