Tag Archives: Net Neutrality

A Right to Online Privacy

With the recent House bill that would allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell anyone’s private browsing history, it is a good time to discuss people’s right to online privacy, as well as the serious breach of net neutrality. Originally, ISP had to obtain your permission to sell your online history to anyone, but soon they will be able to sell it to whoever they want to, whenever they want to. Which, frankly, is a massive invasion of privacy.

cyber criminals
“ISP will be able to track your every move online as soon as you make it. They can, essentially, stalk you online.” Photo from: https://www.fbi.gov/image-repository/cyber-crime.jpg/@@images/image/high

What you do online is private information, unless you choose to make it public. But until you make that choice, it is a private matter. However that boundary is about to be crossed and soon it’ll be open season for every internet user. The least of it is that individual targeted ad campaigns will become the norm. Companies will analyze the data and try their best to get you to buy their product, likely at a higher rate. While that is annoying, it is not the most serious issue. ISP will be able to track your every move online as soon as you make it. They can, essentially, stalk you online. With this kind of information and power at their fingertips, the internet will no longer be a neutral entity and instead become just another method of exploitation.

There is also the fact that ISP will be taking advantage of you and making money off you, and you won’t see a dime of it. Think about it – the product they will be selling is your internet browsing history, something they wouldn’t have if you did not go online. You make the product, and they sell it off to the highest bidder. All you get are more ads to inconvenience you. Even if we ignore the invasion of privacy that is occurring here, this still isn’t a fair deal. This bill allows ISP to sell your private information and make money off something you create. All the while, you get harassed by a large amount of ads, and they profit off of you.

Internet Slowdown Day (Or: Why do they keep doing these things?)

On Sept. 10, the Internet and its users were once again affected by online supporters of net neutrality. This time, the protest was named “Internet Slowdown Day” and, as the name suggests, some participating content hosting sites put a “loading” symbol atop their pages. Other participants hosted banners, glitchy videos, and other ads promoting the cause in related ways.

Participating sites this time around included Netflix, Tumblr, Etsy, Kickstarter, and Urban Dictionary. Even Google decided to take an active role in Internet Slowdown Day, which it hadn’t in previous freedom of the Internet protests. All sites involved, of course, asked their users to contact the FCC and local political representatives in order to prevent the end of net neutrality.

"Internet Slowdown Day" is a protest for Net Neutrality. Graphic from Daily Dot
“Internet Slowdown Day” is a protest for Net Neutrality. Graphic from Daily Dot

And what exactly is net neutrality, one might be wondering?

Basically, net neutrality is about a lot of complicated and business related things that some of us normal people just don’t get. It looks like, at the end of the day, we’re talking about keeping the Internet a neutral ground for all users, regardless if they’re browsing or trying to make their own Facebook/Reddit/Netflix.

For starters, the Internet is a pretty equal ground for anyone trying to get a business going, a book published, or any other endeavor for a minimal price. However, if net neutrality (the idea that all content hosters are entitled to the same speed) is taken away, this may change.

If this is taken away, it will be because the FCC and lawmakers have given permission to service providers (like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T) to charge for speed. It’s basically like putting in SmartPass lanes for the sites who can afford it (like Netflix) and allowing everyone else to be left in the dust. Because, honestly, how many of us will want to use sites that take ten times longer to load, no matter how much better their content might be? Would we all be using Facebook if during the initial years it had loaded at the pace of an AOL connection? Yeah, didn’t think so.