Will Fraudulent Activity Be Monitored on the Internet After the End of Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality. What is it exactly and how does it impact our day-to-day activities?
Net Neutrality. You've all heard all the noise about net neutrality, but what is it, exactly? Well, it's a long, boring story, but basically, it means that internet providers, which own their own tv and video streaming services can't screw over competitor streams in favor of their own products. Comcast can't purposefully create slower traffic for AT&T or Verizon streams for example.
Net Neutrality also extends to devices as well. Back in the wild days of the American internet broadband companies could favor certain brands over others and let traffic flow faster to them. It doesn't stop there. Under Net Neutrality you could connect any device (computer, phone, tablet etc) to your network and you could connect as many devices as you wanted, and there wasn't anything your provider could do about if they didn't like it.
What does this mean for me?
With our ever-increasing reliance on mobile devices, this could become a huge problem for many people, and a golden opportunity for dishonest providers. Without Net Neutrality giants like Comcast can create fast and slow traffic for certain devices at their whim and it would all be 100% legal! This presents a huge issue for the Internet of Things (IoT). If you don't know what that is IoT is a series of interconnected computing machines, (both mechanical and digital), objects, and even animals and people. Everything in the IoT is given a unique identifier (UID) and has the capability to transmit information over a network without any human-to-human or human-to-computer actions. In layman terms, it's every device you own that can be connected to the internet.
So you see why the end of Net Neutrality presents a huge opportunity for fraudulent activities. Comcast, for example, is already working on its own smart home system and certainly has the incentive to favor its own devices over competitor products.
Now, most internet traffic is done on private networks, and the IoT networks are relatively small, in general, but that doesn't mean there's no problem. Even if most of the information is transmitted through private networks, there's still a chance for intervention from a dishonest service provider if it even just grazes public networks.
"The reality is that I need to know that information with low latency," former Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler said on the subject of Net Neutrality. "Latency, as computers are talking to computers, becomes a very important thing. The question becomes whether there will be different levels of service, will there be paid prioritization?"
Wheeler knows what he's talking about. After all, he brought in the Net Neutrality rules within the FCC in the first place, and now he runs an IoT company. And he's not the only one who's worried.
Sce Pike is the founder and CEO of Iotas, a smart apartment firm thinks that the loss of the rules is a huge problem for IoT companies, even the ones who use only a small amount of traffic. "Even though IoT devices might have smaller data packets, their usefulness is to be able to do real-time monitoring and analysis. If they are throttled, then it negates the value of IoT devices," Pike said.
Imagine if giants like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon decided to monopolize the branch. Who could stop them? They could give fast traffic lanes to their own brands, while competitors would get the slow lanes. It would be virtually impossible for smaller companies to enter the market without essentially paying tribute to the big boys because nobody is going to buy their products if they're slower than the competition.
And that's not all. What if these same broadband companies decided to make you pay for every device you want to connect your networks? Or use specific routers and modems?
For now, the internet providers say they'll continue to follow the principles of Net Neutrality.
"We won’t block, slow down, or discriminate against lawful content," Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice said for Wired. "We believe the best way to settle the regulatory and political ping pong that net neutrality has become is for Congress to pass legislation that will apply to all in the internet ecosystem," she added.