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You may have heard a lot about net neutrality in the news lately. The repeal of net neutrality laws which was brought about by the Trump administration in the US last year is being challenged. However, as it stands right now, net neutrality does not exist in the US. This means that not all online data now has to be treated in the same way.
Many Internet users are finding ways to get around the problem, such as using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). However, this in itself has some risk attached. We recommend that anyone who is thinking of using a VPN makes sure they do not opt for an unreliable choice. For instance, take a look at this Avast Secureline review, and be wary of this type of offering. So, what does net neutrality mean for Internet users and is using a VPN the only answer?
What is happening with net neutrality?
The landscape for net neutrality in the US changed in 2018 when new regulations took effect. Under the Obama administration, the laws that were in place meant that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) had to treat all legal online data in the same way. The new laws mean that this is no longer the case.
This means that ISPs can now control the speed of certain online data and they can block access to content. This has changed the entire future of the Internet as the user experience is being controlled.
Two sides of the fence
Ever since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the laws which guaranteed net neutrality, there has continued to be arguments from both sides of the fence.
For net neutrality
Anyone in favour of net neutrality believes that all legal online content is equal; access and bandwidth should be the same for all. They do not believe that ISPs should be able to favour certain content from large corporations, or because someone pays for their content to be prioritised. Those on this side of the fence include big Internet names such as Facebook and Netflix.
Against net neutrality
On the other side are the ISPs, and the Trump administration. The ISPs argue that ending net neutrality means they have more financial resources to invest. In theory, this means that they should be able to improve networks and the overall Internet user experience.
What does ending net neutrality mean for Internet users
There are several changes that are the result of the end of net neutrality. They affect anyone who uses the Internet. ISPs can now:
- Block content.
- Slow down the content of competitors.
- Charge for viewing content.
This means that the use of the Internet is more restricted than ever. This has an adverse effect on the viewing experience of many people. It’s also a concern for companies like Netflix as their content could be slowed in favour of competitors’ content.
How to deal with the net neutrality issue
Net neutrality continues to be a subject of much discussion in the US. The fight continues on both sides of the argument. The state of California introduced its own law which guaranteed net neutrality, only to be faced with a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice. It claimed that the implementation of the law violated the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.
As the battle continues, there are ways to get around the end of net neutrality. Let’s look at some of the methods that can be used.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows private viewing of online content. The ISPs can still see IP addresses but they are the addresses of the VPN servers. This means that ISPs cannot tell what content is being accessed. Information is encrypted, so privacy is maintained. It’s possible for ISPs to slow data on a VPN network but it’s a huge task when you consider that many companies and government departments use VPNs.
Part of the dark web, The Onion Router (TOR), was originally developed for use by the US Navy. Now, it’s run by a not-for-profit organisation. The privacy of users is protected as traffic is encrypted and moved across several different servers.
I2P is another solution that can protect privacy online. It’s a network layer that allows people to communicate without interruption from ISPs. Communications are encrypted and run through a network of servers across the globe. These servers are hosted by volunteers. This is a free, open source solution.
The future of net neutrality remains uncertain, but at the moment it does not exist in the US. Anyone who wants to avoid their online life being ruled by ISPs is starting to look elsewhere for solutions, with using a VPN being the most popular solution.