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  • Geebo 9:00 am on May 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ajit Pai, , , net neutrality   

    Is net neutrality dead? 

    Is net neutrality dead?

    Yesterday, the President Trump-backed FCC voted 2-1 to overturn the net neutrality regulations the Obama administration had put in place in 2015. Net neutrality basically states all internet traffic should be treated equally and internet service providers should not charge consumers extra for prioritized traffic.

    FCC chairman Ajit Pai has stated he believes overturning net neutrality will promote competition between ISPs and will result in more choices for consumers, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In most US markets, consumers only have a choice between either their local cable company or their local phone company. In most cases those companies are part of larger conglomerates like Time Warner, Comcast, and AT&T. So if anything, these companies will more than likely offer less actual choice to consumers while raising prices. Instead they will offer tiered services offering faster traffic to popular sites for more money, disguising that option as choice.

    Net neutrality isn’t dead just yet, but it’s on life support. The public has 90 days from yesterday to respond to the FCC’s actions, but no matter how rose-colored your glasses may be, it’s unlikely they will reverse their decision to kill net neutrality.

     
  • Geebo 10:08 am on May 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , john oliver, net neutrality   

    The battle for net neutrality is being fought on the FCC’s website 

    The battle for net neutrality is being fought on the FCC's website

    For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept of net neutrality, it can be best described in this way. Let’s use popular streaming site Netflix as an example. Netflix is a bandwidth hog when it comes to internet service providers. Most users need a pretty fast connection in order to use Netflix. Now say that internet providers started offering tiered services where you had to pay extra in order to get a fast connection to Netflix. Or it could be other popular sites like Facebook or Gmail. Net neutrality says that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Proponents of net neutrality wanted the FCC to regulate ISPs like a common carrier which would prevent ISPs from favoring certain web traffic over others. Opponents of net neutrality don’t want the government interfering with internet in general under the belief that once the government starts regulating the internet they will never stop regulating the internet, leading to accusations of possible censorship. Under the Obama administration, the FCC ruled that ISPs were in fact common carriers, however, under the Trump administration, those regulations have largely been gutted. This is a battle that’s been going on for years but it reached a fever pitch recently when a large salvo was fired against the Trump-controlled FCC the other night.

    It all started when political humorist John Oliver started talking to his audience about net neutrality. On his HBO show, he asked his viewers to go to the FCC website and leave their comments about how they feel about net neutrality. This included Oliver promoting a humorous but slightly off-color URL in order to lead his viewers to exactly where they needed to be on the FCC website. This led to so many users flooding the website, that it was basically knocked offline due to all the traffic it was receiving.

    This led to the FCC calling Oliver’s campaign a denial of service attack, or DDoS for short. Normally a DDoS attack is a form of cyber-vandalism used in order to intentionally knock a site offline with a flood of traffic. The difference with Oliver’s campaign is that he wanted his viewers to leave legitimate comments. This has led opponents of net neutrality to fire back by launching a number of automated scripts called bots to swarm the FCC’s website, leaving comments in support of the Trump administration’s handling of net neutrality. In case you were wondering, yes that sounds more like a DDoS attack than what John Oliver’s viewers were doing.

    Unfortunately, this is the way of the internet. When one side of an argument starts speaking up about an issue, the other side tries to shout them down. In the end, while Oliver’s actions may have been well intended, this will ultimately have no effect on the net neutrality debate, thanks to many of the players involved acting like petulant children.

    If you want to make real change about net neutrality, the best way is to write or call your representatives in Congress and let them know how you feel. Congress still operates in an old school way and gives letters and phone calls more weight than e-mails and online petitions. Also, to better get your point across, always be respectful when dealing with politicians whether they deserve it or not. If you’re rude or ranting in your communication with them, your voice will largely be disregarded.

     
  • Geebo 10:55 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , net neutrality, , TOR, VPN   

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you? 

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you?

    As was expected, the House of Representatives also voted to repeal internet privacy regulations that would have prevented internet service providers from selling your personal information to advertisers. President Trump is expected to sign it into law once the legislation reaches his desk. However, the questions remain about how this affects the individual user and what can they do to protect themselves?

    First off, if your web history is sold to a third-party it won’t be sold as an individual’s history. Instead, it will be sold off as part of a multitude of users who fit a certain demographic, for example males ages 18-34. Also, that’s only if your ISP or wireless provider engages in selling your data. Most large ISPs have voluntarily promised not to sell your internet history.

    If you’re still unsure about your history being sold you could always use a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN is basically a tunnel that goes through your ISP’s connection but hides your direct activity from them. You could also use the TOR browser which reroutes your internet traffic throughout many servers across the world, however, with the TOR browser you would sacrifice speed for a certain level of anonymity. While VPNs and TOR would hide your traffic from your ISP, they will not hide you from law enforcement if you’re engaging in illegal activity, as VPNs can just as easily sell disclose your browsing history and law enforcement has been catching bad guys through TOR for years.

    If you’re really worried about your privacy there are options out there, however, they may cost you a little bit of money or speed, but in the end they may be worth it.

     
  • Geebo 9:53 am on March 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , net neutrality,   

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs 

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs

    Yesterday, the US Senate voted to repeal FCC regulations that prohibited wireless and internet providers from selling your personal information to third-parties. The previous regulations required these carriers to ask your permission up front before sharing your personal information. This included such information as browsing information, location and financial information.

    Proponents of the repeal said that the old privacy regulations are too far-reaching and expensive for ISPs and that the rules don’t apply to web-based companies like Google and Facebook who aren’t required to ask your permission before sharing your information. What those who are in favor of the repeal want to do is move these regulations from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Privacy advocates see this as a start of a war on net neutrality. Net Neutrality is a concept where all internet traffic is treated equally. For example, without net neutrality ISPs could slow down traffic to a service like Netflix but instead prioritizes it to their own streaming service.

    The repeal is expected to pass the House easily so when the new regulations go into effect you will have to tell your carriers not to share your information if you so choose.

     
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