The support for a fair Internet across America’s political spectrum, however, caused many to be taken aback at the appointment of Ajit Pai as the FCC’s new chairman in January 2017. Pai’s history with Verizon Wireless, a company known for opposing net neutrality regulations, would lead to widespread protests against his plan to reverse the Open Internet Order. But by December 2017, the regulations were rolled back, and the Internet was classified as an information service once again.
The Argument for Net Neutrality
Though news channels far and wide have begun reporting on the fight for net neutrality, it is often held that many of them neglect to explain what it really is. A fair Internet, in simple terms, suggests that the role of an Internet service provider (ISP) is to provide access to the Internet and its infrastructure, and nothing more.
Proponents of net neutrality believe that a fair Internet spurs innovation. Examples, they say, can be seen in the numerous creations of Internet startups (called dotcoms) that are able to set up shop with no extra cost for accessing their apps or websites. A fair Internet is what spawned the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon—dotcoms that have become so huge and successful that they have formed what many believe to be the Trinet.
Proponents of net neutrality also believe that the Internet has matured, and that without federal regulation, ISPs would begin dictating the activity and behavior of online users. This includes degrading or blocking connectivity to specific websites and implementing surcharges for other services. Large companies would ultimately buy “priority access,” eclipsing the connection requests of smaller, competing companies.
Other times, this traffic might be redirected altogether. Costs for premium services would skyrocket, and streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go would all become more expensive since the cost of transmission would be passed to the consumer.
The Argument against Net Neutrality
To no surprise, ISPs are not fond of net neutrality rules. Most of them believe that those who occupy the greater portion of the Internet should have to pay their fair share (even if that means paying more). They also believe that more regulation would only discourage investment in available network infrastructure. This would contribute to a loss in revenue and profits.
Furthermore, keeping the status quo means that a service provider’s prospects are as good as breaking even—regardless of the countless entrepreneurs who continue to flood the market. Consumers, they argue, will suffer in the long run, as profits would be stymied and funds would be unavailable to improve their current networks. The freedom to innovate should be accessible to the service provider as it is to the budding entrepreneur.
Opponents of net neutrality concede the difficulty of maintaining a fair and open Internet, given its competitive and ever-changing landscape. Service providers are constantly figuring out ways to stay relevant and ahead of their competitors. Allowing them to set and maintain their own policies and terms of service would allow them to easily adapt as the Internet and times evolve.
In other words, ISPs have an obvious incentive to keep the Internet the way it is: Free from excessive or overreaching regulation. Net neutrality rules like the Open Internet Order would only undermine their best interest and bottom line.
The Current State of Net Neutrality in the United States
As previously mentioned, the set of regulations which made up the Open Internet Order was reversed in 2017, with only one of the provisions being spared. Dubbed the “transparency rule,” it is still a requirement for ISP companies to openly share how they manage their networks and systems. Several states, including Oregon, Washington and Vermont, have gone on to enact their own net neutrality laws. Other states are following suit, but the changes are not likely to be immediate.
Our Position on Net Neutrality at Malware.xyz
While we certainly understand the concern of unnecessary regulation as expressed by corporate opponents of the Open Internet Order, emphasis must be placed on the role of automation in traffic shaping and bandwidth throttling for commercial purposes. In many ways, such practices mirror ransomware and other forms of malicious software which seek to undermine our digital freedoms. This is where we hope to provide a different perspective on the subject of net neutrality.
What becomes of cybersecurity should conglomerates be allowed to screen, filter and disrupt services as they see fit? What would differentiate such groups from other hacking organizations besides the (unspoken) rule of law? Privacy and other freedoms would be no more. Previous efforts which saw the condemnation of ad fraud, spyware and pre installed malware could arguably be justified as normal business practices.
Blurring the line between malicious and mercenary software could very well give credence to cyber heists like the one involving India’s oldest banking institution; or ransomware attacks on cities like Atlanta and Hong Kong. Any software or automation process with the intent of working against those who use it is malware by definition. Because of this, we at Malware.xyz support Net Neutrality rules which guarantee a safe, free and open Internet for all.
Join the fight to save net neutrality and the Internet as we know it by visiting https://www.internetdefenseleague.org/