cool hit counter The end of net neutrality rules: The Beginning of Internet Stratification?_Intefrankly

The end of net neutrality rules: The Beginning of Internet Stratification?


周四,美国联邦通信委员会(Federal Communication Commission,FCC)以3票赞成2票反对的投票结果,撤销了网络中立性(Net Neutrality)——禁止AT&T、威瑞森(Verizon)和康卡斯特(Comcast)为代表的美国互联网服务提供商干涉在其骨干网络上传输数据——规则的授权。这个逆转了联邦通信委员会2015年决定的投票结果,意味着美国联邦政府不再将互联网服务提供商视作公共服务部门进行监管,也使得互联网服务提供商有权自行决定优先保障或延误、屏蔽特定通信内容的传输。

网络中立性的核心原则是所有合法的互联网流量都应当被互联网服务提供商——在美国就是以AT&T、威瑞森和康卡斯特三家为主——一视同仁,也就是说互联网服务提供商应当为所有互联网流量分配均等的带宽,而不管这些流量是视频、音频还是文本,来自或去往哪个网站。在网络中立性规则撤销后,互联网服务提供商将有能力决定优先保障或屏蔽哪些网站,以及每个网站可使用的带宽,这最终将可能会把美国本土互联网变成一个阶层化的互联网系统,愿意支付溢价的网站将会获得更高的网络传输速度,除此之外的其他网站则可能面临更高的网络延时甚至完全无法访问。互联网服务提供商的竞争对手尤其容易受到网络中立性撤销的影响,例如康卡斯特正试图在视频流服务市场上从网飞公司(Netflix)抢夺更多市场份额,那么网飞公司的流量在康卡斯特骨干网络上将可能遇到网络延时的影响,这最终将促使用户转向其他加载速度更快的在线视频网站。

Prior to Thursday's vote, the framework for U.S. net neutrality rules was anchored in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (Title II), where Internet service providers are treated as the same government-regulated public service points as telephone providers. Whereas prior to 2015, ISPs had been classified under Title I, that section did not grant the FCC several of the authorities it used to implement net neutrality rules. Thursday's FCC vote to reclassify Internet service providers under Title I also means that the FCC lost its legal authority to push net neutrality rules.

In addition to the significant impact that revoking net neutrality will have on areas such as U.S. civil liberties, privacy, and online content services, this FCC decision will also have a potential impact on national security areas such as political disclosure, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism. If the withdrawal of net neutrality rules ultimately spawns a stratified Internet system, influence campaigns like Russia's online opinion manipulation during the 2016 U.S. election will likely be given new opportunities to exploit the fact that disinformation of all kinds can spread more quickly to the masses simply by secretly purchasing or obtaining priority bandwidth for disinformation campaigns. The same is true in cybersecurity, where some of the most highly valued companies in U.S. cybersecurity circles require petabytes of data to be transferred over the Internet on a daily basis, and if that data is slowed down in delivery to users or even tampered with by Internet service providers, the value of those companies could be revalued and the consumers who use their products would suffer. The withdrawal of net neutrality would also prompt ordinary Internet users to increase their use of anonymization technologies and peer-to-peer encryption-because if Internet service providers cannot view the content of network traffic, they will not be able to make bandwidth escalation or degradation decisions for specific traffic, but this would also enhance the chances of success of criminal groups or terrorist organizations in evading surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. While ISPs can also prevent the abuse of anonymization and encryption by putting all encrypted communications in the "slow lane," this does not necessarily deter malicious users who are willing to accept the hassles of encryption security.

因为撤销网络中立性而形成的阶层化互联网也可能令国际互联网通信流量绕开美国互联网基础设施——因为国际互联网信息流动倾向于选择速度最快或最短路径,这将对美国安局根据《外国情报监听法案(FISA)》702条款开展的“上游(Upstream)”监听活动——监听流经美国互联网骨干网络的数据——造成影响,当然这也会令美国安局免受意外收集美国公民信息的合规性困扰。

简评:

Net neutrality has effectively shaped the Internet into an open and free marketplace for ideas, goods and services, from which global political, economic and cultural development has benefited greatly. With the withdrawal of net neutrality, if Internet service providers are given the right to censor content they do not approve of or find controversial, this will have a significant impact on freedom of expression advocated within the United States: third parties who can afford to pay extra will gain the ability to increase their audience base by purchasing greater network bandwidth, and money will have a stronger influence in shaping American political opinion. There have been numerous reports in the U.S. media of U.S. Internet service providers interfering with Internet communications, such as blocking political speech at Pearl Jam concerts in 2007, deliberately slowing access to file-sharing sites such as eDonkey and BitTorrent, and blocking web-based information services used by demonstration organizers to coordinate their actions. While some experts argue that the withdrawal of net neutrality will help counter the use of the Internet by terrorist groups to disseminate extremist ideas and guidance for attacks, and will also help Internet service providers counter false online propaganda by screening misleading content in other countries, the withdrawal of mandatory neutrality without adding the necessary transparency mechanisms for decision-making risks instead increasing the opportunities for malicious third parties to gain greater online propaganda capabilities through payment. The Internet is a virtual space without borders, while its physical infrastructure - the ISP backbone and international submarine cables - are under the jurisdiction of the countries in which they are located. Net neutrality, despite being a domestic policy of the United States, the implementation or withdrawal of this policy will still have a non-negligible impact on the international Internet.


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