Net Neutrality The end of net neutrality places the United States into unknown territory for Internet access. Besides allowing Internet Service Providers (ISP) to throttle and block content based on policy, paying customer, paying vendors, and overall content, it moves the governing body of Internet communications from the FCC to the FTC. This has some staggering ramifications that businesses and consumers need to watch.

Possible Changes to the Internet

The Internet itself is no longer viewed as a communications vehicle in the eyes of the government, but rather a trade vehicle for commerce and content. This means that recent laws requiring the taxation of goods interstate, services provided that could be taxed, and premium fees for services can now be better enforced, and potentially new taxes to be levied. These are hidden possibilities with the changes voted on today.

The Ramifications of Ending Net Neutrality

Besides these facts, ISPs now have the potential to throttle services in favor of their own partnerships and fees collected. If a new startup like Hulu or Netflix came to be, they could be subjected to fees from an ISP to supply the bandwidth necessary for their services to operate. Consumers today enjoy no restrictions on receiving that content but that could change in the near future. While ISPs will be required to “announce” when this occurs, and to ensure none of the throttling is anti-competitive, it does stand to reason that the FTC will have to police these policies. This will be difficult – we saw similar problems when cellular carriers announced unlimited data but throttled users when thresholds where reached... unannounced.

What’s Next for the Internet as We Know it?

The net net (pun intended) – this is not over. A myriad of lawsuits regarding this change will surface and ultimately this decision will be decided in the courts. As my colleague, Scott Carlson, Technical Fellow, BeyondTrust, has stated, “ISPs will have full control over their internet pipe, they could start to modify the information security characteristics of the connection too. They could force encryption, or even inspect all traffic for throttling decisions. With these changes, that is certainly possible.” As always with any news that breaks regarding the Internet, cybersecurity, and the state of businesses on the web, BeyondTrust will continue to monitor developments and provide commentary on the state of affairs.