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Spotlight on security – The end of Net Neutrality?

Normally we post on what security news topped the media. This month’s blog covers the end of the Net Neutrality legislation. Net neutrality was initiated by the Obama administration. Ironically Trump buried both Net Neutrality legislation and media coverage with his historic meeting on neutral grounds with Kim-Jong un. Is Net Neutrality legislation obsolete or has ‘the open internet for all’ just suffered a serious setback?  

Net neutrality legislation enforced US Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to give access to everyone equally, meaning no person or party offering information on the internet would get higher traffic priority or better bandwidth speed.

Apposing this ‘government regulation’ idea are large ISP’s like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. They don’t like the government to interfere with their business. Those ISP’s argue that regulation reduces the incentive to innovate which is bad for consumers. The chairman of the United States Federal Commission for Communication (FCC) claimed that investments in the internet had dropped, since the introduction of the Net Neutrality legislation. According to the lobby of these the big ISP’s this governmental control is especially bad for smaller ISP’s. Smaller companies don’t have the means to implement legislation and new technology simultaneously. This is bad for innovation and ultimately consumers also.

Opposing those big ISP’s are the big Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix. Many people argue that information is a common service needing legislation like any public service to guarantee equal access to this infrastructure for all. When infrastructure owning companies (like Comcast) charge content creating companies (like Netflix) for fast access, this would be bad for innovation. Big established companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix are able to carry such costs, but new small startups would not be able to attract the funding to pay for fast access. Since most innovation comes from small companies, this would be bad for innovation and ultimately consumers also. 

From a distance the discussion against and in favour of Net Neutrality seems to have the same effects: it does not matter which side of the coin surfaces because both options are bad for smaller companies, innovation and the consumers. So, it looks like ‘a pot calling the kettle black’ situation.

We don’t think the ISP’s will fall back to secretly throttling internet traffic like they did before the Net Neutrality legislation. They will probably learn from the business models of the content controlling companies by either offer a ‘free’ advertisement supported service like Google and Facebook or charge for premium ad-less access like Netflix.