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Filing Supports Claims That ISPs Already Throttle And Violate Net Neutrality Rules

One argument you hear from people who argue against Net Neutrality rules is that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don't abuse existing, in-place net neutrality rules. That assumption seems flawed. TechDirt reported about claims where users have experienced ISPs already restricting or "throttling" users' Internet connection speed, in violation of current net neutrality rules. First, the data source:

"... we came across one very interesting one that actually makes some rather stunning revelations about the ways in which ISPs are currently violating net neutrality/open internet principles in a way designed to block encryption and thus make everyone a lot less secure. The filing comes from VPN company Golden Frog and discusses "two recent examples that show that users are not receiving the open, neutral, and uninterrupted service to which the Commission says they are entitled."

Next, the first claim about a net neutrality violation:

"... It got some attention back in July, when entrepreneur Colin Nederkoorn released a video showing how Verizon was throttling his Netflix connection, which was made obvious when he logged into a VPN and suddenly his Netflix wasn't stuttering and the throughput was much higher. That video got a lot of attention (over half a million views) and highlighted the nature of the interconnection fight in which Verizon is purposely allowing Netflix streams coming via Level 3 to clog. As most people recognize, in a normal scenario, using a VPN should actually slow down your connection somewhat thanks to the additional encryption. However, the fact that it massively sped up the Netflix connection shows just how much is being throttled when Verizon knows it's Netflix traffic."

The second claim:

"In the second instance, Golden Frog shows that a wireless broadband Internet access provider is interfering with its users’ ability to encrypt their SMTP email traffic. This broadband provider is overwriting the content of users’ communications and actively blocking STARTTLS encryption. This is a man-in-the-middle attack that prevents customers from using the applications of their choosing and directly prevents users from protecting their privacy."

There are several very clear implications

  • First, it is difficult for the average user to detect and confirm throttling. So, some indepedent verification and confirmation labs, or technologies are needed.
  • Second, encryption is one important tool to stay safe online, for online banking, and for workers to protect the confidential assets and processes of employers and companies. If true, then the ISP intentionally mismanaged the Internet connection by sacrificing the user's safety in order to protect its profitability.
  • Third, in order for consumers to know and receive the connection speeds they pay for each month (with hefty prices), net neutrality rules are needed even more. Otherwise, ISPs will manage their networks even more to consumers' detriment.
  • Fourth, a corporation will almost always work in its own best interest and in the interest of its shareholders. A broader public interest will be ignored, or sacrificed, for profitability. Regulation bridges this gap.

What are your opinions of these throttling revelations?


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