Goodness speaks in a whisper, evil shouts.”
~Tibetan Proverb

Death of Net Neutrality is affecting VPN users

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The death of Net Neutrality makes it a free for all for ISP’s and ‘Net denizens alike.  It used to be that they couldn’t discriminate against clients any more than an employer couldn’t hire a potential employee because of skin color.  Those who would refuse service to a homosexual couple because of their religion are now thrilled that they can discriminate over the Internet as well.  Don’t like Macs?  Let your page come up at 1% the speed for people using a Mac unless they’re a “premium customer”.   If you’re using a VPN provider such as NordVPN or Mullvad, the site may not come up at all. “Sorry, we’re experiencing technical difficulties, check your browser.”

Which is what’s starting to happen.  Tinder’s an example, you just get a blank background image if you’re over a VPN,  but if you disable your VPN and let them see your city, ISP brand and type and allow your ISP and neighbors (or school or hotel, wherever you are) can monitor you’re going… Ah, well, no problem, works perfectly.

If the NRA is constantly up in arms about how a single gun law can cascade to something no longer constitutional, why is it that citizens don’t resist and fight for their freedoms at every level?  It’s only your ISP, everyone uses Comcast | Cox | CenturyLink, no big deal, and it’s a dating site so they already know the city, and you weren’t wearing a ring when you walked into the hotel, it’s no big deal…

Did I miss any justifications?

At this moment of time we’re in a tug of war – service providers we already give money to get private information and they don’t want us to tell them no, so they’re simply not asking while leveraging computer settings to make sure they get what they want.  We see this on smartphone apps (“give us access to the following personal data or NO APP FOR YOU.”) and when using ad blockers (“Uh oh..!  You’re using and ad blocker.  Here’s how you disable it, until then the site won’t work properly…”).

The more people use VPN’s and other privacy-advocating technology the more it impacts the bottom line when they turn those people away.  If and when (for example) Amazon starts blocking sales from VPN’d IP addresses, go buy from somewhere else, there are a thousand other ways to get what you need over the Internet.

If we don’t all develop some self discipline and go somewhere else instead of constantly acquiescing to privacy-creep then very quickly there will be nowhere else to go.   Ajit Pai will have been right and all Americans need are their fidget spinners and super soakers without even knowing how things used to be…

And I don’t believe Ajit Pai is right.


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