Net Neutrality & Your Online Privacy: The Pros & Cons of the Repeal

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably – at a minimum – heard the phrase “net neutrality” sometime over the past few years. But just so that everyone is on the same page, for the purposes of this information, we’ll define net neutrality as the requirement for internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all traffic equally (or said another way, to not give preference to any one user, content type, etc.)

Under President Obama, net neutrality rules were adopted and on December 14, 2017, they were voted to be repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). So what direct implications might this have for businesses and individual internet users? Here we are going to take a look at the pros and cons associated with the repeal of net neutrality as they relate to privacy on the internet and cybersecurity.

How will the Repeal of Net Neutrality Impact Online User Privacy?

Current US laws, without net neutrality in place, do not offer specific protections against the use of personally identifying information (PII) by service providers. This means that ISPs will not only have the ability to control the type of media you are accessing and bandwidth you are using, but there is nothing to stop them from logging exactly who is watching what and how frequently. This has obvious privacy implications, but with that could come some reward. For example, if you give your ISP permission to share some specific personal demographic and usage data with advertisers, you may get better rates.

Which Cybersecurity Implications Could Result from the Repeal of Net Neutrality?

Most experts agree that this repeal preserves the government’s ability to collect American internet users’ personal information in bulk (this really isn’t anything new and has been going on since shortly after the 9/11 attacks), but some believe that the repeal allows intelligence agencies to go one step further and could be the first step towards a “backdoor” into modern encryption for investigators.

With that said, one aspect of cyber security which could benefit from the repeal is that it should become easier to mitigate Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Net neutrality enabled DDoS attacks to be more effective since ISPs were bound to treating all traffic equally. The repeal, in theory, should allow ISPs to throttle or block suspicious or malevolent content.

The reality in all of this is that net neutrality (and its repeal) will likely be mired in litigation for the foreseeable future. So regardless of which side you’re on, you probably won’t see any large changes too quickly, but in the meantime, it’s certainly interesting to think about.

If you have questions about how the repeal of net neutrality might impact your business contact ATB – we’re here to help ensure you always have the best IT security services standing behind you!

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