The Federal Communications Commission announced a plan to repeal the net neutrality rules led by Ajit Pai, the Trump-nominated chairman. He believed that the rules had long halted innovation and was an instance of “the federal government micromanaging the internet”. His decision to endorse the repealing of the rules has been meet with backlash from activists and internet companies, but many conservatives and wireless companies (such as Verizon) have given their support to Pai.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality essentials protect data from internet providers and presents them as equal data. Internet providers cannot see what we do online, and this prohibits them from throttling data download speeds or paid prioritization on websites. The ethical consequences of this could lead to websites being blocked unless a price is paid to access them. This situation can be visualized as represented in a Black Mirror episode “15 million merits”. This is the principle that was put into action by Obama’s administration in 2015.
Now the cable companies are lobbying FCC and congress to end net neutrality which would allow them to effectively tax the internet, a tax that would be placed on every sector of the economy in America.
The danger of this is other countries following suit, net neutrality is already in place under in Portugal. The telecommunications company MEO required users to pay a base fee and had 5 other additional options of around £5 a month which would allow more data in order to access applications ranging from the tiers messaging, video, email, social and music. The abuses that are possible once net neutrality has been removed are endless. The former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was disappointed by the move, and reminded that the job of the FCC was to represent the consumer; the decision by Pai will only benefit the internet providers.
However the movement to block the repeal of net neutrality is in full swing with a nationwide protest planned the week before the FCC meeting to approve the repeal. There are multiple calls for Congress to intervene due to the potential complications of the repeal and the campaign against Pai has been gaining more and more support. This move to “restore internet freedom” will not be left unchallenged.
On Friday an international cyber-attack place, affecting more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries. The worst part. It is set to get worse on Monday according to Europol chief Rob Wainwright. The “ransomware” called Wanna Decryptor, that has most notably hit the NHS is said to have been a software that is easily brought off the internet. The software is effectively a virus that will overrides the control of a user’s files and locks the user out and demands a payment. The payment is requested in Bitcoin, a popular crypto currency that uses multiple complex security features and is effectively untraceable, the ransom asked for a payment of £230.
In England, 48 of the National Health Service (NHS) trusts were victims of the attack, and multiple problems in hospitals and surgeries were reported, this issue rubs salt in the wounds to the NHS, who under Jeremy Hunt’s abysmal leadership have seen multiple complications in terms of the state of the NHS. Globally Russia and the UK were the worst hit as a result of these attacks, with the interior ministry of Russia being targeted. Among them US courier giants FedEx, Spain’s communication operator Telefonica and Germany’s rail network Deutsche Bahn were targeted. Many experts have advised for companies to update their computer software in anticipation of further attacks on Monday. In response Microsoft have released a patch on Friday to defend against these attacks. An anonymous security researcher based in the UK, called “MalwareTech” helped limit the attack by registering a domain name that each infected computer was being rerouted to, by registering the domain the attack was halted. MalwareTech has predicted another attack to come very soon and urged that security be updated.
The danger of this attack and the unprecedented level that it has reached is a major concern. Furthermore the lack of funding into the NHS cyber system has been labelled as a cause for concern and the use of Windows XP, an effectively outdated software that is susceptible to hacking. The alleged £1bn cut to the NHS is the cause of the outdated NHS infrastructure and as of now there has been no response by Jeremy Hunt with regards to the situation. The cost of the attack on the UK is unknown and now Europol is working in conjunction with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to find out who is behind this attack.