VPNs may be your best weapon against internet throttling
States could be the next battleground for activists looking to save Obama-era net neutrality rules. Now’s the time to gear up with a VPN.
In October, a federal court kicked the question of net neutrality protections back to individual states when it upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to deregulate internet service providers. This leaves it up to each state to pass laws protecting consumers from broadband companies, which could block or slow your access, or charge you for faster access. It’s too early to read the tea leaves on how states will fare individually against the amassed lobbying forces of major ISPs, but the stakes are higher than one hand, more than three dozen states have either passed or are looking to pass legislation to protect consumers from broadband companies abusing their power. On the other hand, the death of nationwide net neutrality protections moves the US inarguably closer to a fractured communications future, creating new fault lines in the already quaking ankfully, customers still have the technology to beat net neutrality abusers at their own game. But it’s up to us to choose the right tools for the job. Read more: The net neutrality battle lives on: What you need to know after the appeals court decision | Best internet providers in 2019Currently, there are no standalone magic browsers that can protect you from net neutrality abuse. Chrome’s Incognito mode might shield your browsing history from the curious eyes of your roommates, but it doesn’t hide your activity from the ISPs you’re trying to dodge. The same goes for all the other anonymous options provided by browsers like Microsoft Edge, Opera, Safari or even if a browser can’t shield you from net neutrality abuse, you’ve still got a powerful tool that can — Virtual Private Networks. The speed throttling issueWhen you’re paying up to $100 per month for unlimited home internet service, there’s nothing more infuriating than catching your ISP red-handed in the act of slowing your speeds. And that throttling is, for many, the main point of concern for customers entering an era without net neutrality throttling can happen in a few ways. If your ISP won’t invest the money in expanding or improving its services and infrastructure, it could intentionally slow down traffic during peak hours, based on your location. Or if your ISP has a stake in a website, it could slow down your connection speed to that site’s competitors, forcing you into one of its whitelisted sites or charging you more for access. Despite having their wrists slapped repeatedly by the FTC and FCC for illegally slowing down customer speeds, some ISPs still throttle. A study from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst published earlier this year found that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon had all artificially slowed down online videos from services like Netflix and YouTube all the time, not just when networks were congested. If you want to check whether your ISP is slowing down your internet, you can always run a quick Internet Health Test. How a VPN can helpWhile there are few legal protections for consumers against throttling, and the death of net neutrality could mean even fewer in your state, VPNs can help you get back up to speed. To slow you down with throttling, your ISP has to be able to see your IP address. A rock-solid VPN can shield your identity by assigning you a shared IP address, for example, which makes you indistinguishable from hundreds of other users elsewhere with the same IP. It can also sling your traffic behind a server in a totally different state or country, outside the reach of your state regulations. When searching for a VPN that can do this, look for those services which boast a large number of IP addresses and a large number of servers, ideally more than 2, 000. That could help mitigate any speed decreases you might experience when your VPN is shooting your traffic around the country. Another way a good VPN can get your back is by securing against leaks in its system. Look for VPNs that have a track record of testing negative for DNS leaks — one type of leak which is notorious for exposing your traffic to your ISP. Along the same lines, stay away from VPNs that don’t offer killswitch protection. A built-in killswitch will automatically disconnect any data-using apps if your VPN gets disconnected. Without this crucial feature, an otherwise harmless VPN disconnection could turn into a massive privacy exposure, allowing your cable company to see your traffic. One way an ISP can figure out who you are and what you’re doing is via a widely criticized process called Deep Packet Inspection, a type of eavesdropping that examines your data in often unnecessary detail. When you’re working with a good VPN, your traffic will be encrypted well enough to evade this kind of snooping. Look for a VPN that offers at least AES-256 encryption, and split-tunneling. The single-most important factor in using a VPN to protect your net neutrality is choosing a service that doesn’t keep logs of your internet activity. Even if your internet provider somehow finds out you’re using a VPN, and which VPN you’re using, no VPN logs means no evidence. Make no mistake, what you’re asking for here is a VPN provider that’s financially invested in keeping your data shielded from advertisers and broadband companies; the single most valuable non-tangible commodity for any internet company is user data and you’re asking them not to sell it. That means you’re going to have to invest the cash to guarantee a secure provider. Here’s where your shopping trip can start: The best VPN services for 2019.
Net neutrality supporters take protest to Verizon stores
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The End of Net Neutrality – You Need a VPN | VyprVPN
What Does the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean For You? With the repeal of net neutrality, ISPs and broadband providers can now handle Internet traffic however they please. This leaves a dangerous opportunity for them to restructure the backbone of the Internet for their benefit. Without net neutrality regulations in place, ISPs may impact your Internet experience in some major ways. SpeedPrior to the repeal, providers were known to throttle – or slow down – Internet speeds based on a user’s Internet activity (even though this was prohibited). Now, without regulation, this practice will certainly expand causing users to experience significantly slowed Internet speeds. Providers are now free to build “fast lanes, ” or charge Internet users more for faster speeds. This forces consumers and businesses to choose between paying more or experiencing slow speeds. Download speeds or data caps could also be inflicted on those that have a considerably higher bandwidth. This means users that enjoy streaming their favorite shows using web services such as Netflix, or eSports players that compete in online games, would be unfairly impacted and forced to either pay the “toll” to purchase a higher-bandwidth or experience unequal speeds. For many, paying a higher rate simply isn’t an cessWithout net neutrality, providers will have full authority to decide which websites or applications are accessible to their customers. This decision could be based on either what they deem too valuable to be free, or what they deem a threat to society or their bottom line. You may be charged more to use your preferred services, or forced to access whatever content your provider would prefer you use based on what content your provider owns or whom they have business relationships with. As with speed implications, this consequence could particularly impact marginalized netizens without the means to access “more expensive” web ivacyThe repeal of net neutrality also has scary consequences for privacy. In granting ISPs more power in regards to how they treat Internet traffic, the FCC is also granting them authority over the data that comes as a result of browsing, leaving consumers vulnerable. An announcement recently made by the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) presented a plan to coordinate efforts to “police the internet” – meaning they’ll watch but have no authority to act. The FCC additionally blocked online privacy protections for consumers earlier this year, so ISPs do not need consent to conduct invasive practices including the collection, sharing and selling an Internet users’ personal data to advertisers and third parties. The rollback of net neutrality will thus impact all Internet users, and anyone that relies on the net for public good for education, business, communication or any other purpose. There are additional repercussions for businesses and competition in the marketplace overall.
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Frequently Asked Questions about can a vpn get around net neutrality
Does a VPN bypass net neutrality?
A VPN enables you to bypass location-based censorship and access a free and open Internet regardless of what restrictions are imposed on you by your ISP. For example, with VyprVPN you can change your location to another country that does not censor the Internet and imparts strong net neutrality protections.
Can you get in trouble with your ISP for using a VPN?