Internet Service Providers – More Like Puppeteers

On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. In other words, we have lost the essential part of Internet, in fact the guiding principle of Worldwide Web. What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the Internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online. This is the definition of an open Internet.

Net Neutrality means an Internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that Internet service providers should provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company cannot decide who you could call and what you say on that call, your ISP should not be concerned with what content you view or post online.

The court’s January 2014 ruling has eliminated the only existing Net Neutrality protections on the books. ISPs now have the ability to block websites and applications.

Net Neutrality is, as said before, an essential principle of Internet and free society. After being ruled against by Federal court, Net Neutrality does not protect us, users, and our privacy anymore. But who is it, that this core principle had been protecting us against this whole time? This article on Gizmodo provides an insight on the enemy that preys on privacy of internet users.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the company that provides us, common users, internet connection and access to worldwide web. They, similarly to gatekeepers, stand at the gates that separate us from internet and open the doors for those who wish to pass through. However, ISPs have always abused their middleman position and instead of just letting data through the gate they have been controlling the flow of data or just restricting the access at all. Moreover, with such power, given by their position, ISPs are also able to peek into the information users send or store out in the Web.

Given such opportunity, ISP companies abuse their power and either profit or cut costs at users’ expense. In order to deal with ever-increasing traffic companies have to upgrade and improve infrastructure. Instead, they either restrict or slow down exchange with certain websites, to avoid capital expenditures. This practice opens up another opportunity to abuse mere users: ISPs charge premium for “enhanced” connection, which in fact is simply not-debilitated access.

This phenomenon used to be not as bad, due to the fierce competition among ISPs companies. However, recently with Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s merger coming to fruition it our privacy will undergo a severe siege. Merged ISP is going to have 5 times as many customers as its next competitor in US. A company in charge of such huge gates to the internet is just bringing a extreme temptation to abuse on itself. And without Net Neutrality principle in power, there is nothing to stop ISPs to abuse their middleman position. Who knows what would happen next? Would ISPs start selling our browsing and personal data? Would the government go against free internet community once more and permit such deals? We, users, have no knowledge of that and have no power to prevent it.

the_man_with_the_key_is_king_by_venicelatte-d4nq6ez“In the world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king” – Jim Moriarty 


5 thoughts on “Internet Service Providers – More Like Puppeteers

  1. I used to know the principles of net neutrality, however, I have never expect the government to officially break it. As mentioned in the writing, the lack of competition between ISPs will ultimately expense our, users, benefits. Nevertheless, with the ability to block websites, will any of the ISPs to risk their reputation to do so? I do not think so. Even if the ISPs may control the flow, which will affect our user experience due to the slowness, the website blocking has always been a sensitive topic to ISPs, especially in countries like US. Actually, as most well known virus-spreading websites are still alive right now, I think the ISPs will not bother to block other normal ones. But the overall monopoly of ISP industry could be a problem in US in the future.

  2. Shon,
    It seems as though net neutrality is one of the primary examples of America providing its citizens with freedom of speech and freedom to act (as long as it’s not illegal). By eliminating net neutrality, the American government is stripping millions of American from their rights to use the internet for their own individual purposes. I understand that eliminating net neutrality could possibly stop a terrorist attack or two in the future; however, the cost of sacrificing our rights and freedom to speak greatly outweighs the anti-terror benefits. Hopefully we will be able to keep our internet freedoms.

  3. I don’t think net neutrality opposition is about security. What Verizon and other big carriers want is the ability to differentiate speed so they can price discriminate and extract more revenue from consumers.

    I don’t know why the legal and intellectual framework of natural monopolies and infrastructure cannot be applied here in some way.

    The Internet has evolved into a pre-requisite for political and economic participation. We cannot afford to have monopolies controlling the infrastructure without strong oversight.

    However, there are lots of technical issues about the architecture of the internet and the commercial role of ISPs and big carriers that I don’t know enough about to take this discussion further.

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