What is the future for net neutrality?
The term ‘net neutrality’ was coined back in 2003 in a whitepaper by law professor, Tim Wu, who spoke out against broadband providers prohibiting their customers from accessing virtual private networks (VPNs), while other providers prevented their customers from using Wi-Fi routers. Mr Wu believed such punitive restrictions would hamper innovation long-term, and subsequently called for anti-discrimination legislation.
Eventually, in 2010, the US’ FCC – overseen by former President Obama – passed a detailed net neutrality order that prevented internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking legal online content or forcing users to connect to their internet via only certain devices. Telecommunications giants attempted to sue the government both in 2010 and in 2015 when sweeping amendments to the net neutrality order were once again passed.
The basic principle of open internet and net neutrality is simple – allowing all traffic online to be treated equally. Your ISPs treat all services the same and cannot therefore make online services load faster or slower and cannot enforce websites to pay them to ensure sites do load quicker. In fact, the world’s biggest tech giants – Google and Facebook – as well as the ‘godfather of the internet’ Tim Berners-Lee, believe that without net neutrality the internet as we know it may have a limited shelf-life without such protections. However, the arrival of Republican US President Trump saw the net neutrality legislation promptly canned, with Trump labelling the rules “heavy-handed”.
At the time of writing, there are no rules in the US that prevent broadband providers from decelerating or preventing access to certain forms of content online. There’s also nothing to stop ISPs favouring their own services over a competitor’s. However, New York’s attorney general has launched a multi-state lawsuit against the net neutrality decision, so the battle continues to rage on between the Democrats and Republicans.
How does this affect us Brits? Fortunately, the FCC’s legislation is only applicable in the USA. The UK currently abides by the European Union’s (EU) own net neutrality legislation, which is one of the fairest and most open in the world. This means that British ISPs are not allowed to throttle or block any websites whatsoever. Even in the event of a mutual Brexit deal in 2019, it would be surprising to see the UK alter its approach towards net neutrality.
Of course, the impending arrival of the UK’s Digital Economy Act (DEA) 2017 will soon enforce websites to implement age-verification systems on all commercial pornography sites or risk having their services blocked. Some people may view this as an infringement of our online freedoms, but the DEA 2017 is essential to safeguard children and young teens that should not be subjected to age-restricted online content.
However, for online services where age-verification is increasingly required, at AVSecure we believe the verification process should be as painless and as secure as possible for legitimate users. In fact, our age-verification solutions are not only swift and intuitive, they help protect the identity of legitimate users against the prying eyes of cyber-criminals.
When designing and implementing our industry leading age-verification software, AgePass, we opted to make it the world’s first blockchain-based age verification system; combining it with a Zero Knowledge Proof solution to drive a higher standard in online age verification and anonymity for online consumers. Users aged 18 and over can simply buy an Age Verification Card over the counter and input the 16-digit code on the back of the card into AgePass to verify their age and gain legitimate access to online content without divulging any sensitive information. This makes it as easy as picking up a pint of milk and as anonymous as buying a Lottery ticket.