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Net Neutrality: It's been nice knowing you, internet

There are a set of simple, unwritten rules that have governed the internet since its inception. The most important of which is this: all content is available equally – no matter if it's the BBC or a blogger with their first post.


By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Thursday 8 May 2014, 09:16AM


Those rules are about to change for many users after the Federal Communications Commission in the United States proposed new rules last week that would allow internet service providers (ISPs) to charge companies extra for better access and more bandwidth for their website.

Essentially, this means that the BBC website would be much quicker, and easier to access, than a blog or website for a startup company.

But it's not all doom-and-gloom.

In stark contrast, legislators in Brazil passed the Marco Civil internet law earlier this month, which forbids ISPs from charging extra for services that are data-heavy (such as auction websites, video websites, and so on). The law also established limits on how much metadata, much of which includes sensitive information, websites can collect from domestic users.

In addition, the law holds American companies subject to Brazilian law in cases that involve citizens of the South American country.

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That last provision is very telling since national leaders fast-tracked the bill after revelations that the National Service Agency in the United States had been illegally collecting sensitive information, including Brazilian communications data.

A majority of the world's internet traffic still transits the US. If it's possible for Brazil legally to go after American companies for breaching their privacy, could the same be done in Thailand?

In Asia, South Korea is known as the most connected country and proudly proclaims how well they provide their population with access to high-speed broadband (megabit speeds are common).

With so many companies and websites that operate out of the United States (including giants eBay, Facebook, and Twitter), it's unclear how the proposed rules affect users outside of North America.

But anytime access to all content is threatened in one place, internet users around the globe lose.

 

 

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