Net neutrality is a principle that demands that the Internet should be free and open to everyone. It should not be interfered by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they should not discriminate the content. Also, they are prohibited from throttling the speeds of the internet connection in favor of premium pricing packages.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been quite known to violate Net Neutrality principle secretly even when Net Neutrality law is imposed, especially in the United States. Also, due to the volatile nature of Net Neutrality i.e. getting imposed and later repealed has further allowed the internet providers to carry out their malevolent practices.
ISPs have a long history of breaching the Net neutrality rule. Some of them still continue their unfair and unethical measures and have not been brought in the limelight yet. Though, some providers were caught playing with the rules by the users which left a negative impression on that provider. Here are some of those ISPs which were caught violating the Net neutrality principle.
Madison River Communications
The first reporting of the Net Neutrality principle was around 2005 when Madison River Communications cut down Vonage, a VoIP service. The company had port blocked all VoIP services of Vonage which resulted in VOIP company receiving many customer complaints. Vonage, after hearing these complaints filed a complaint with the FCC. After the investigation by FCC was done, it was declared that Madison River Communications had to pay a $15K fine to Vonage.
A report published by a website accused Comcast, a widely known ISP, of employing practices of torrent throttling. They also investigated the company practices and found out that they were using an application called Sandvine which prevents seeding and broke the connection with a non-Comcast user. This prevented peer to peer (P2P) sharing with new peers, hence resulting in a lockdown of torrenting.
Telus, in 2005, started to block the access to a site named Voices For Change, which pro-actively supported labor strike against the company. According to the researchers at Harvard and the University of Toronto, the consequence of this action resulted in Telus blocking 700+ more websites which were unrelated but run by the same website.
Around the end of 2000 decade, it was reported that AT&T forced Apple to block competing VoIP phone services including Skype and Google Voice. This was done to prevent any iPhone users from calling by using the “over-the-top” voice service. These VoIP services provided low-cost international calls over Wi-Fi networks plus free options. Similarly, in 2012, AT&T planned to block FaceTime, a video-calling application and tried to block Google Wallet around early 2010 decade.
Around 2012, Verizon had started blocking users from using tethering applications on their devices. Furthermore, Verizon asked Google to immediately take out 11 free tethering applications from the Android Store as it allowed the users to avoid Verizon’s tethering fee. By employing these tactics, Verizon was caught by FCC as it violated Net neutrality. They also tried to block Google Wallet, a mobile payment system in the early 2010 decade.
T-Mobile, a widely known and the largest internet mobile provider, was also found indulged in unfair practices in their ‘unlimited data plans’. They were caught in their malevolent practices in 2016 by FCC on employing deceptive marketing tactics to their unlimited plans. In reality, they were limiting down data for the customers which violated the Internet transparency rules of 2010.
While these companies have shown cunning behavior in abiding the Net Neutrality principle, some companies continue to breach Net Neutrality secretly. They aren’t limited to renowned companies or a country, but these spiteful practices are carried out around the globe.
If you find your provider throttling your internet connection or blocking it, it would be wise to report it to the provider or higher authorities.