Net Neutrality and User Privacy – I.

Internet Connected Devices

The world has seen massive changes in the last few months. Surprising political and economic movements aside, technology has changed drastically. However, one entity has remained unaffected by the constant flux of change, the internet and its users’ need for net neutrality and privacy. 


What is net neutrality?

In broad terms, net neutrality is the principle that all information on the internet is equal. Internet providers and telecom companies have to allow access to all content on the web without any form of favoritism – could involve throttling a competitor’s website or restricting access to certain websites.

For example, consider that Company A is a telecommunications company, and that there are two e-commerce websites prevalent in the market – B and C. Of these two companies, Company B has signed a monetary deal with Company A. Due to this deal, when you try to access Company B’s website, it will load instantaneously; however, when you try to access Company C’s website, it will load slowly, thereby, pushing you into using Company B’s faster website.

Visually, it would look like this:

Net Neutrality diagram showing how telecom companies can charge companies for favoritism

As the picture shows, due to the monetary deal, Company A has given a ‘wider pipeline’ to Company B and a ‘thinner pipeline’ to Company C leading to traffic prioritization.

Another way Company A could misuse its power is by charging you to get access to each website. To elaborate, if you buy an internet subscription from Company A, they could charge you a separate fee to use Company B or Company C’s website.

Visually it would look like this: 

Net Neutrality diagram showing how telecom companies can charge users to access web services


Why is net neutrality important and what can you do to save it?

Net neutrality had a small win in 2015 when the then United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a set of rules preserved to protect the ‘open internet’.  Internet providers such as Verizon and Comcast, naturally, protested the move to no avail until this year. The newly formed FCC headed by Ajit Pai plans to reverse all rules intended to keep the internet open. The FCC is accepting people’s comments on this issue. To post a comment and help keep equal access to all information, all you need to do is:

  1. Visit this website (click here)
  2. Click on “+ Express”
  3. Fill out the form

No matter what country you live in, find out your country’s stance on net neutrality and do your bit to preserve net neutrality. One might ask, why is net neutrality important? Net neutrality is important because it aims to push users to the best services and not the most well-endowed services. More importantly, net neutrality ensures that powerful incumbents such as Facebook cannot use their deep pockets to crush a thriving startup. All in all, net neutrality ensures that ‘on the internet, everyone is equal’.


This was Part 1 of the article “Net Neutrality and User Privacy”. You can find Part 2 here.


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If you want to know more about net neutrality, watch these videos by John Oliver and by AIB (Rated: M).