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‘Break The Internet’ In Protest Of Net Neutrality Repeal

The digital rights groups behind the “Battle For The Net” alliance issued a call to both internet users and website operators to start protesting the FCC’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules. The repeal is scheduled to happen only two days from now, on December 14.

Repeal Of Net Neutrality

The idea behind net neutrality is that internet users pay for internet packages from ISPs in order to get equal access to all websites. Every bit on the internet is treated as equal and neutral.

Another way to see it is that under proper net neutrality rules there wouldn’t be discrimination from ISPs against certain types of content. For instance, the ISPs wouldn’t be able to say that certain news sites should get priority access on their networks, while other news sites wouldn’t. CNN wouldn't arrive faster to a user's device than The New York Times or the ISPs wouldn't deliver CNN data for free to the user, for example, while asking the user to pay for data when visiting the NYT.

Other examples could include ISPs charging financial services websites more money because those types of business are more profitable and "they can afford it," and because it’s more “valuable” for those websites to reach their customers, than it is for other websites. In a market where there is little to no competition, and no net neutrality rules, this could be a possibility.

Even before the current net neutrality rules passed in 2015, the ISPs were starting to ask video content companies for money in order to serve their content even at normal internet speeds. Services such as Netflix initially opposed that, and we started seeing Netflix video being throttled on some ISP networks.

In other words, it didn't matter if the ISP customers paid for 20Mbps, 50Mbps, or 100Mbps connections. Netflix would still play poorly, even if it only needed 3Mbps to play the video at SD quality. This is what it means to allow the ISPs to discriminate against web services, become gatekeepers, and charge both customers and website services. This is what prompted Netflix to create its own internet speed test to show people that some ISPs aren’t giving them the speeds they are promising in their contracts. Verizon was caught capping Netflix speeds even recently, which is likely due to knowing that even if the rules are in place, the current FCC wouldn't enforce them.

If ISPs start charging for access to their networks as well as to specific sites, then peer-to-peer connections may be seen as a pure money-losing operation to them. The ISPs may then start throttling P2P content such as torrents, cryptocurrencies, or even person-to-person file-sharing.

SOPA-Style Protest

Perhaps the most successful protest in the history of the internet against a law was the 2012 protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which promised to allow content makers to censor websites at will with a simple accusation of copyright infringement.

The internet community—including individuals as well as large organizations such as Google and Wikipedia—joined in protest of the bill. Eventually most of SOPA's supporters (and its Senate equivalent, PIPA) in Congress changed sides and voted against the bill, signifying a win for the internet community.

How To Join The Protest

The “Battle For The Net” alliance, which was started by organizations such as Fight For The Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press, played a major role in getting the former FCC leadership to pass the net neutrality rules in the first place.

The alliance, which has already been joined by dozens of websites, is now asking website owners and operators to join the new protest against the repeal of those net neutrality rules. It has also made it easy for websites to join the protest by developing ready-to-use alert prompts for their visitors. The code can be found on Battle For The Net’s website.

Regular internet users can also participate in the protest by changing their profile pics to images recommended by the alliance on social media websites, by spreading the word about the repeal, as well via the many other creative ways to draw attention to the issue, all of which can be found on the alliance’s website.

Some internet users may feel slightly inconvenienced by the protest, but that's the point—to show internet users that this is how their internet could become on a daily basis if the FCC is successful in repealing the net neutrality rules.

If the protest does fail, and the FCC repeals the rules on December 14, then it will be up to Congress to restore them through law. Arguably, net neutrality laws should have been a law in the first place, rather than some executive-level rules that could be changed at will from one administration to another.

  • Chettone
    Can an ISP from the USA have any kind of power on those who live outside USA? Is it a local problem or does it affect the whole world?

    If I live in Argentina, were there is (still) net neutrality and use Netflix, how can a foreign ISP affect my download speeds?

    If FCC wins, can consumers simply pick an ISP that doesnt violate Net Neutrality?

    If possible, cant apps develop some kind of protocol to "mask" what kind of content are providing? maybe sharing proxys with sites that arent capped by ISP?
    Reply
  • drtweak
    Could then. Yes. If you were trying to access servers that were IN the USA then it could affect you possible.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    <Sigh> THIS is an editorial more than a real NEWS story. (TH has the right to have them as much as news.)

    With that said.... It's the responsibility of content providers, such as NetFlix, HBO, ShowTime, CBS, etc., to have the bandwidth necessary for the loads they will encounter. Users pay for bandwidth too. It's called tiered access... 5Mb, 10 Mb, 20Mb, 25Mb, 40Mb, 50Mb, 100Mb, etc. of speed or data (GB instead of Mb) per month. Net Neutrality itself doesn't stop that. It doesn't really stop hitting a limit and getting throttled to a slower speed or hit with a surcharge.

    Net Neutrality is as stated: You don't pay anything extra beyond the speed/allowed data limits you pay for to get a service. You don't pay extra, outside of what HBO charges you for their service, to stream HBO Go to you desktop or device. You don't get to watch it without it using your data, while your neighbor has to use data to watch. Everyone has equal access to delivery and providers have equal access to deliver. Everyone is responsible for the cost for the amount of data they push or pull. If HBO doesn't pay enough to have the bandwidth to deliver (servers, connections) It don't matter how fast, how low latency, or if you have REAL unlimited data if HBO chokes because they didn't pay out enough for their usage requirements.


    Addenum:
    It's tiring to have these hit and run downvote "readers".. so... kms1699... why don't you join the conversation and explain to everyone what I said that you felt that it was necessary to downvote my response, I'd settle for you just dumping your 2 cents worth into the conversation in general.
    Reply
  • therealduckofdeath
    20476180 said:
    Can an ISP from the USA have any kind of power on those who live outside USA? Is it a local problem or does it affect the whole world?...
    You're affected indirectly as the corporations behind the ISP's will favour certain content creators over others and in the long run push some players out of the market. Less competition means higher consumer prices everywhere.
    Encrypted connections ought to work most of the time, but they're often slower/capped by default.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    20476180 said:
    Can an ISP from the USA have any kind of power on those who live outside USA? Is it a local problem or does it affect the whole world?

    If I live in Argentina, were there is (still) net neutrality and use Netflix, how can a foreign ISP affect my download speeds?

    If FCC wins, can consumers simply pick an ISP that doesnt violate Net Neutrality?

    If possible, cant apps develop some kind of protocol to "mask" what kind of content are providing? maybe sharing proxys with sites that arent capped by ISP?

    Websites and content hosted in America (usually anything with .com in its url), could be cut off from the world entirely, if any ISP in the chain decides to block content from being accessed internationally. This could be because a website can't afford a their new "long distance" internet plans. Or maybe the ISP simply wants to damage a company because they perceive that company as competition or a threat.

    Netflix itself can afford to host content internationally... but 2-3 years from now, Netflix most likely won't even exist in the United States. Cable companies will either block it entirely out of spite, or they will extort such extreme fees on Netflix and end users that Netflix will become more expensive than even the most overpriced premium cable packages.
    Once Netflix's primary market collapses, the company may not be able hold itself together well enough to maintain servers and content licensing for international markets.
    Reply
  • TMTOWTSAC
    If you like the current model that cable tv uses for selecting channel availability, you would probably like Net Neutrality to be repealed. Because then that model could be applied to the internet with even fewer restrictions. (FCC rules force cable tv services to include things like local channels and public access networks in their basic bundle.) It isn't even a question of throttling opposing services. It's a question of accessibility. It's your ISP saying, "We've signed an exclusive deal with Showtime, so you can get Showtime cheaper but you can't get HBO at all. But next year we're open for bids again, so maybe Hulu will pay us enough to block both of them."

    While the focus has been on streaming video services, it isn't exclusive to them. It's any form of internet communications. Whether it be entire classes, like streaming, or gaming, or more granular. If you completely remove all regulations (and repealing NN is the first, biggest step) they could decide to allow Tom's Hardware and block AnandTech. They could allow Samsung.com while blocking Apple.com. They could allow only Playstation traffic to only EA servers only during World Cup games while blocking all Xbox traffic. They could treat each and every website, ftp server, game server etc like a separate tv channel and charge/block/PPV on an individual basis.

    I know you think they can't do that, because they would be crazy to do it. The free market would stop them. I would say look at the state of cable tv right now, and what people are willing/forced to put up with there. And then realize that the single biggest threat to that model over the last decade has been people willing to cut the cord...which was made possible by the internet. Look at your phone and its list of carrier(s?) and exclusive contracts. Look at your health insurance and its list of preferred providers and covered procedures and formulary. The internet has been the great exception to the exclusivity model, not the norm.
    Reply
  • wiyosaya
    20476283 said:
    <Sigh> THIS is an editorial more than a real NEWS story. (TH has the right to have them as much as news.)

    With that said.... It's the responsibility of content providers, such as NetFlix, HBO, ShowTime, CBS, etc., to have the bandwidth necessary for the loads they will encounter. Users pay for bandwidth too. It's called tiered access... 5Mb, 10 Mb, 20Mb, 25Mb, 40Mb, 50Mb, 100Mb, etc. of speed or data (GB instead of Mb) per month. Net Neutrality itself doesn't stop that. It doesn't really stop hitting a limit and getting throttled to a slower speed or hit with a surcharge.

    Right now, net neut does not prevent a surcharge.

    20476283 said:
    Net Neutrality is as stated: You don't pay anything extra beyond the speed/allowed data limits you pay for to get a service. You don't pay extra, outside of what HBO charges you for their service, to stream HBO Go to you desktop or device. You don't get to watch it without it using your data, while your neighbor has to use data to watch. Everyone has equal access to delivery and providers have equal access to deliver. Everyone is responsible for the cost for the amount of data they push or pull. If HBO doesn't pay enough to have the bandwidth to deliver (servers, connections) It don't matter how fast, how low latency, or if you have REAL unlimited data if HBO chokes because they didn't pay out enough for their usage requirements.
    This is not what people who support net neutrality are objecting to. The lack of net neut will amount to something like this: If you watch HBO Now, for instance, and your ISP has a monetary interest in Showtime but not HBO, your ISP could simply drop your access to HBO Now and put on their policy page something like this "We do not carry HBO Now because they are not part of our family of companies." Note the "." there. This, under the rules that would be in place if net neut is dropped, would be perfectly acceptable. So now, even though you prefer HBO Now to the similar Showtime service, you cannot get HBO Now at all because your ISP refuses to carry it, and because they have it posted in their policy section, you cannot complain to anyone because your ISP does not carry HBO Now. Like it or not, you are stuck with what your ISP decides to carry.

    That is just a simple example. It is even wider than this. Your ISP could refuse any traffic from any web site for any reason - as long as they post it on their policy page. In essence, your ISP can chose what you get to visit.

    I hope this makes it clear because this IS what is being proposed by the FCC at this time.
    Reply
  • Druidsmark
    Can an ISP from the USA have any kind of power on those who live outside USA? Is it a local problem or does it affect the whole world?

    If I live in Argentina, were there is (still) net neutrality and use Netflix, how can a foreign ISP affect my download speeds?

    If FCC wins, can consumers simply pick an ISP that doesnt violate Net Neutrality?

    If possible, cant apps develop some kind of protocol to "mask" what kind of content are providing? maybe sharing proxys with sites that arent capped by ISP?

    This is a problem for people living in the U.S. so your safe for now, your government in the future could choose to eliminate net neutrality in the future.
    Reply
  • Solandri
    20476283 said:
    With that said.... It's the responsibility of content providers, such as NetFlix, HBO, ShowTime, CBS, etc., to have the bandwidth necessary for the loads they will encounter. Users pay for bandwidth too. It's called tiered access... 5Mb, 10 Mb, 20Mb, 25Mb, 40Mb, 50Mb, 100Mb, etc. of speed or data (GB instead of Mb) per month. Net Neutrality itself doesn't stop that. It doesn't really stop hitting a limit and getting throttled to a slower speed or hit with a surcharge.
    Netflix offers the larger ISPs servers hosting Netflix content that they can put on their local networks so it doesn't impact the ISP's upstream bandwidth usage. They offer these servers for free. Verizon and Comcast refused Netflix's free offer just so they could manufacture a nonexistent problem to justify charging Netflix. (The other major ISPs may have refused too, I just didn't see any news confirmation of it.)

    Yes you as the ISP's customer are paying for 5 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 50 Mbps, whatever level of service. What the ISPs want to do is not give you the service you're paying them for if the site you're trying to access doesn't also pay them. That in itself should be breach of contract by the ISP. The problem is even if they're found guilty of breaching their contract with you, it does you no good. Most Americans only have one choice of ISP because their local government has granted that ISP a monopoly. So if they breach their contract with you and you quit their service, you either can't get Internet at all, or only at a much slower speed.

    Net neutrality tries to fix the problem by legally forcing the monopolies to behave. I, like may others, think the better solution is to just eliminate the monopolies. The government granted the monopolies in the first place. It should be trivial for the government to take them away.
    Reply
  • Solandri
    20476628 said:
    This is not what people who support net neutrality are objecting to. The lack of net neut will amount to something like this: If you watch HBO Now, for instance, and your ISP has a monetary interest in Showtime but not HBO, your ISP could simply drop your access to HBO Now and put on their policy page something like this "We do not carry HBO Now because they are not part of our family of companies." Note the "." there. This, under the rules that would be in place if net neut is dropped, would be perfectly acceptable. So now, even though you prefer HBO Now to the similar Showtime service, you cannot get HBO Now at all because your ISP refuses to carry it, and because they have it posted in their policy section, you cannot complain to anyone because your ISP does not carry HBO Now. Like it or not, you are stuck with what your ISP decides to carry.
    There are a bunch of court cases winding their way up which deal with this without invoking net neutrality. It has to do with the common carrier status of the ISPs. Common carrier means that the carrier (ISP in this case) is agnostic to the content they deliver. In exchange, they are freed from liability for any content which may be illegal.

    If the ISP argues that they should be allowed to block HBO Now, then they are no longer acting as a common carrier. They are actively filtering a specific website from their "Internet" access. The moment they do that, they lose common carrier status and they become liable for all the pirated movies and music, child porn, and mafia hit arrangements being conducted via their service.

    There are some tortured arguments the ISPs are making trying to have their cake and eat it too. Some successful, others not. We'll have to wait for it to eventually makes its way to the Supreme Court before we can get a final ruling.
    Reply