Today you can find any number of online articles about the impending loss of Net Neutrality in the United States and around the world. I think most web surfers don't understand the potential impact.
There are many examples of corporations and governments violating the principles of Net Neutrality. Here are just a few:
- Comcast secretly injected forged packets to slow certain users' traffic down. When discovered, they didn't stop until the FCC forced them to.
- In a different instance, the FCC fined a small ISP $15000 for restricting their customers' access to a rival ISP's services.
- AT&T was caught limiting their customers' access to a specific public site unless the customers paid AT&T more for the access.
- More recently, Verizon secretly restricted its customers' ability to stream from Netflix and Youtube, until they were caught and forced to change.
- Outside the U.S, in some countries, the general population can't access any information not officially approved by the government. They can't email anyone they'd like, search for information about politics, medicine, religions, etc.
That's what it's already like today when Net Neutrality is not followed. Net neutrality - Wikipedia
The obvious fallout from losing Net Neutrality is separating people from more money and seeing it sent to carriers and big corporations. But although money is the front reason for doing away with it, it's not the worst reason.
Suppose Net Neutrality goes away in the United States due to an act of Congress, and it becomes legal for carriers and ISPs and corporations to slow traffic down or shut it down entirely based on:
- Who you are
- What you want to learn
- Your past browsing history
- Your income
- Your race
- Your religion
- Your political views
- How much extra you're willing to pay
Losing Net Neutrality sounds a lot like trading the freedoms and rights that come from living in the United States and moving to Russia or China or Iran or Syria. We could be giving up a LOT of freedoms and speeds that we've always taken for granted.
Are there any justifiable reasons for slowing or stopping your traffic? Maybe.
- It costs carriers and ISPs more and more as people increase bandwidth demand by streaming audio and video, or moving increasingly larger files for work or pleasure. Should you be denied access, or slowed down, or forced to pay more to have the speed and access you already have today?
- If you use a lot of bandwidth streaming entertainment or playing games during business hours, some online businesses may not be able to serve their customers as well. Is that a fair reason for you to be denied speed or access to what you want?
It occurred to me that throttling bandwidth with QoS is similar to a clogged freeway (aka "oversubscribed") that the DoT "fixes" by dedicating a lane to folks who pay more to bypass the slow traffic. When does slowing someone's traffic begin a movement toward losing Net Neutrality?
- How about if the DoT intentionally slowed everyone EXCEPT you down, and you must drive 55 mph where you'd been driving 70, and everyone else must drive 40 mph?
- Or if they said, "You may go 70 mph because you're wealthy. People who earn less than you won't be allowed to go that fast."
- Or "Your religion or color or gender all are reasons why you may not access these sites with good speeds, or perhaps to be able to access them at all. Further, all of your surfing will be slowed until you comply with some new policy we will indicate at a later time, perhaps a loyalty oath."
Put on your best network administrator hat and imagine how monitoring will play a role in this. You might be asked to prove that your ISP/carrier/remote online service is flowing as fast as your company pays it to be. And you might be asked to identify IP addresses, users, protocols, and destinations and throttle their throughput per the demands of some higher-up in your organization.
Maybe you already do this with QoS, prioritizing traffic because your internet pipe or WAN pipes aren't big enough for the demand. Is that parallel to not being able to access what you want privately, or at home, or at work?
How will you react when Net Neutrality is gone and you learn that you:
- Cannot access the sites you used to enjoy?
- Cannot stream A/V content as fast as you used to?
- Cannot research what you want?
- Are prevented equal access to information based on your politics/income/race/religion/age or gender?
- Will be forced to pay additional fees each time you use certain protocols or sites?
Think about how important Net Neutrality has been to you in the past, and how we've taken it for granted.
Then imagine it being used as a tool to separate you from more money, and to keep you in the dark about your health or your government's activities, or even from learning about coming weather conditions.
What good things could come from losing Net Neutrality?
- Users might abandon the internet and get physically active and become fit again?
- Think of the zillions of bits conserved!
- Discovering ignorance is bliss? (If this makes you smile, I recommend you read George Orwell's book 1984).
How will losing Net Neutrality affect you and your business and your network monitoring demands and discoveries?