Despite efforts to defeat the recent repeal of Net Neutrality Rules, internet consumers are already bracing for tough times ahead. Recent weeks have seen an influx in the number of consumers looking for a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN encryption masks the website that an internet user is accessing from ISPs. This will help overcome any throttling that may be imposed by the ISPs in the foreseeable future.
Here’s a list of the best VPN to help mask your online activities
Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules
Under the direction of president Trump, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ended net neutrality recently in a move that critics warn is the beginning of the end of a free and open internet. The Republican-controlled five-person board voted 3-2 in favor to repeal the rules regulating Internet Service Providers (ISPs), effectively granting them the power to reshape online experiences for Americans potentially.
FCC will now only require ISPs to disclose how they treat traffic, essentially removing barriers to potential abuses. Regulation of the internet will be the responsibility of the Federal Trade Commission, whose duty will only be to assess violations after the fact.
This recent move is a reversal of the agency’s 2015 decision that ISPs should have stronger oversight and regulations as Americans have migrated most of their communications to the internet. The 2015 decision bore the net neutrality laws, which became an absolute standard that stops ISPs from throttling and blocking traffic.
Without the rules, ISPs no longer have to treat all internet traffic equally. They can prioritize certain services and websites while choking others.
Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules- New opportunities or death of the internet as we know it?
The impact of the repeal on innovation, competition and consumer experience is indisputable; the real concern, however, is whether it will be negative or positive.
Big cable and internet providers who lobbied hard for the repeal have cited some reasons to justify it key among them being freedom from internet pricing regulation by a future presidential administration.
They also claim that the net neutrality rules have been chocking their revenue streams and this removal would give them room to earn more money to spend on improving their networks.
According to the present head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, net neutrality rules are too restrictive and repealing them was long overdue. He believes that the move to abolish them will encourage more significant investment in digital infrastructure, which will increase competition, promote innovation, create jobs, and lead to faster and cheaper internet access for consumers across America. He has been a vigorous defender of the repeal and has dismissively referred to claims that the changes will kill the internet as “outlandish.”
The opposition to repeal of net neutrality rules
The move to repeal net neutrality is a reflection of the views of the Trump administration that unregulated business eventually yields innovation and helps the economy. Many people, however, do not share these views. They believe that broadband providers will have too much power with net neutrality rules abolished.
For example, Verizon or any other giant ISP with its own online video delivery services could start throttling websites that compete with their own offerings, for example, Netflix and YouTube consequently ruining their user experience. They could also charge them extra to continue delivering their content at high speeds, charges that could be passed on to the subscribers. In short, ISPs will call the shots and decide which websites or applications succeed and which content they want to appear online.
Since making known his plans to dismantle the net neutrality rules earlier this year, Mr. Pai has faced a flurry of opposition. Websites and online businesses including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix have openly expressed their ire and have encouraged their users to oppose the repeal. They already have strategies in place to combat the abolishing of the rules in Congress and the courts.
Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel after dissenting the majority vote referred to the repeal process as ”corrupt” stating that the FCC had demonstrated “contempt” for public opinion by going against the wishes of millions of broadband consumers. These sentiments followed hundreds of angry protest across the country especially outside the commission’s headquarters as activists called on Congress to block the FCCs efforts.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, intends to use a legal maneuver called Congressional Review Act to force a vote on the issue.
What to expect moving forward
Even as internet users brace for the worst, it is still unclear how many changes will take place. Two of the telecom industry’s major companies, Comcast and AT&T have promised their consumers that their online experiences would not be affected by the repeal.
Comcast’s senior executive president, David Cohen posted in a blog recently saying that the claims that this is the ‘end of the world as we know it for the internet’ is pure propaganda and there is no need to panic. However, since these same companies have been culprits of net neutrality rules violation, it is very difficult to trust their reassurances.
Experts warn that since FCC will no longer be overseeing the behavior of ISPs, they will be freer to charge more for faster lanes. Such ‘paid prioritization’ will push out start-ups and countless small businesses that cannot pay.
They agree that the Obama-era rules were too restrictive, but the broadband service market lacks enough competition to operate without any net neutrality protections.
What next after the repeal of Net Neutrality Rules?
Consumers will not feel the changes of the repeal right away, as it will take a while to go into effect. Public outrage as well as the political and legal fights, which have already kicked off, may delay or even possibly derail the implementation.
Several public interest groups, as well as Democratic state attorneys general, have vowed to file suits to stop the change. Democrats on the Hill have also called for a bill that would reestablish the net neutrality rules.
Numerous experts have advised that the changes should not be taken lightly. ISPs have been handed a lot of power; we just have to wait and see if they abuse it and hold the world hostage or if the move will indeed improve the internet experience, yield innovations and contribute to economic growth.