Net Neutrality: my traffic is better than yours

Over the last days, we’ve seen a lot of discussion about Net Neutrality, triggered by the FCC’s announcement that they are planning to put an end to current rules that, at the moment, guarantee Net Neutrality in the United States.

What is Net Neutrality and should you care? Net Neutrality is the idea that Internet Service Providers treat all network traffic equally, without distinguishing between the contents of the traffic, who’s sending it or who’s receiving it.

Sounds like a great idea, right? But wait, wouldn’t it actually be useful if we prioritised video streaming over other things? I could be binge watching the latest season of Game of Thrones without hick-ups or have that Skype call without interruptions, even at times when the network is busy. So what if someone else needs to wait a few seconds longer for their download to finish… If we can see somebody is sending spam or spreading a virus, shouldn’t we make an effort to block that traffic, instead of letting it flow unhindered with the other packets?

Now, enter the company that wants to make a profit. What if your Internet Service Provider slowed down or blocked your downloads, without letting you know? What if your ISP allowed you to stream music for free, but only from the online services they have a partnership with? And you had to pay extra for the data you use when streaming from your own favourite service?

These things are already happening and of course companies will come up with more and more creative ideas. That isn’t neccessarily going to make the Internet a better place. So, Net Neutrality is in fact a pretty big issue with a lot of impact on how we’ll be using the Internet in the future. There’s more than one side to this, so I encourage you to do some research and take your stand!

 

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