The End of Net Neutrality: Why You Need a VPN
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and the Internet as we know it today, envisioned a resource based on the philosophy that information should be freely available to anyone. The Internet was born of necessity and curiosity and experimentation, and free-flowing information became universally ingrained in the zeitgeist of Internet users from the beginning.
Of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee writes, "Our success will be measured by how well we foster the creativity of our children. Whether future scientists have the tools to cure diseases. Whether people, in developed and developing economies alike, can distinguish reliable information from propaganda or commercial chaff. Whether the next generation will build systems that support democracy and promote accountable debate."
Neither the father of the Internet nor the successful entrepreneurs who followed in his wake needed to ask anyone for permission when they began their journeys; the permissionless nature of the Internet imbued netizens with the means to develop their innovations and creativity without interference. Back then, the Net was neutral. Net neutrality is a principle which prohibits Internet providers from treating some traffic online differently than other traffic. Specifically, it stops them from blocking access to certain content, throttling Internet traffic, and implementing paid prioritization (or "fast lanes") for sites willing to pay extra. It is one of many ways to ensure a "fair" marketplace, and it is dwindling.
For many countries, the persistent rhetoric that some information, media, social platforms, and philosophies hold more value than others brought about the demise of net neutrality guidelines in its various forms. Among them, the United States, on June 11th, 2018, told Internet service providers they are no longer required to offer equal access to all web content. Now, ISPs can discriminate against and manipulate traffic any way they see fit. And this battle is not restricted to which popular services pay the inevitable tolls. Lacking net neutrality regulations, ISPs can impact your Internet experience, and your life, in some major ways.
IT'S ABOUT PRIVACY
Without a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, your ISP can see your activity online. Full stop.
Many ISPs around the world keep a record of traffic; including links clicked, files accessed, chat clients utilized, streaming service frequented, and so forth. In the United States, the FCC additionally blocked online privacy protections for consumers. This means ISPs do not need consent to conduct the invasive collection, then sharing or selling, of your personal data to advertisers and third parties.
A VPN like VyprVPN allows you to connect to a remote server location to change the IP address your ISP provides and wrap encryption around your Internet connection. Because a VPN's IP address does not belong to your ISP, your ISP cannot track your browsing habits, collect personal data on you, or distribute those details to third parties such as advertisers or governments. Using a reliably encrypted VPN service substantially increases your privacy in light of recent deregulation and egregious privacy violations.
IT'S ABOUT SPEED
Even though net neutrality regulations prohibited throttling, or slowing down your connection, ISPs still performed throttling if they detected you using more than what they deemed your "fair share" of bandwidth. Now, absent regulations altogether, ISPs are free to expand this practice as they desire. Providers can build the aforementioned fast lanes and charge a premium to receive that important download you need sooner. This forces consumers and businesses to choose between paying more or experiencing slower speeds. Frequent streamers of services such as Netflix, eSports competitors, and others may face fees or experience a severe decrease in the quality of their Internet connection because of how they make use of the service.
When you connect to an encrypted VPN, your ISP cannot see your activity, which makes it difficult for them to throttle your speeds based on how you use the service. Your VPN can also inherently bypass congested ISP networks to achieve faster performance overall.
IT'S ABOUT CENSORSHIP
Net neutrality protected a wide range of content online from favoritism. Providers now hold full authority over which websites and applications are accessible to their customers, and they can obstruct that access on a whim. If your preferred streaming service rivals your IPS's bottom line, for example, you may find significant depreciation in the quality of your stream, or your provider may force you toward content they prefer you access based on their ownership, business relations, or political affiliation.
A VPN bypasses the obstructions to content that ISPs put in place on their networks, giving you unrestricted access to the open Internet your ISP may withhold from you. More people opt to use a VPN these days because it can supply an IP address from anywhere in the world, not just within their home country. Not only does a VPN facilitate a secure connection, users can connect to a server anywhere in the world to avoid geographic restrictions placed on useful or favored services.
The Wild West days of the Internet are slipping behind us as ISPs shift from providing access to controlling that access, and a VPN is an essential tool for protecting yourself through this transition and beyond.