Here in the United States, net neutrality has been a hot topic of debate. The core of the discussion is the question of whether the government has the right to regulate private companies in the public interest. While some have resorted to the insults and have called it “socialism”, the truth is that the government regulates a large number of private public service companies to ensure that everyone has access to the services that are the hallmark of a society. civilized. . There is no reason to exclude the Internet from the status of a utility. In fact, the United Nations and countries like Finland have already declared that Internet access is a fundamental human right.
Given all this, it is concerning to note that several ISPs in the European Union have been openly pleased with measures such as traffic shaping and blocking applications such as VoIP using deep packet inspection or DPI. There are two problems here. The first is that there is a clear conflict of interest with those who provide Internet service and at the same time offer traditional telephone service. The latter has proven to be much more lucrative than the former and when people start to use their Internet networks to replace the traditional PSTN, there is a strong incentive for ISPs to block or disrupt VoIP traffic.
But this is artificially restricting the demand for Internet communications and opens the door to further discrimination by private agencies for their own benefit. It is about time that we started treating Internet services like any other public service, such as water or electricity. Internet service providers must be regulated in the same way and must be required to ensure that they act like dumb pipes simply by providing citizens with the data connections they need.
Another fundamental problem for the question of net neutrality is the question of transparency. Even if we grant for the moment that ISPs have the right to conduct their business the way they wish and give preferential treatment to certain types of applications, there is no denying that they must be very open about their practices and keep customers fully informed about the quality of the service they provide. There is simply no justification for secretly slowing or hindering certain types of traffic without the consent or even the knowledge of the customer paying for the service.
The transparency requirements are simply a stepping stone towards more stringent net neutrality requirements. It is time that we, as customers, started demanding to know what kind of Internet access we are receiving.