Net Neutrality is at risk in the United States. Here’s why it matters.

Net Neutrality in the United States is about to disappear as the FCC seeks to roll back rules governing ISPs from 2015.

UPDATE June 11th: In December 2017, the FCC voted to approve Ajit Pai’s new order repealing Obama-era net neutrality rules. The order took effect June 11, officially ending net neutrality in the United States. However, many lawmakers, civil rights lawyers, and activists have vowed to continue fighting to preserve net neutrality by other means, including state-level legislation. Read below for background on net neutrality and why we believe it is vital to preserve the equal nature of the Internet.

When you logged into ProtonMail today, you might have noticed a message you’ve never seen before, about something you probably never heard of before, called Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality may not be a household term, but it is something that can potentially impact each and every household.

Internet freedom in the US is facing impending challenges as leadership within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) looks to reverse net neutrality rules originally set in February 2015. Those rules placed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under a governing board to ensure they do not differentiate between content served to Internet users.

The newly appointed FCC Chairman and former Associate General Counselor for one of the biggest ISPs in the US – Verizon, Ajit Pai, is now setting out to overturn these rules in an effort to empower ISPs’ authority on Internet broadband distribution. The legislation would enable ISPs to create “slow lanes” and “fast lanes” and influence content delivery overall.

Potential outcomes include placing parts of the Internet behind a paywall, slowing down some sites or even preventing access to certain sites altogether. Many consider net neutrality equivalent to freedom of speech law in the US (the First Amendment), and for the Internet, dismantling net neutrality can have disastrous effects by decreasing access to information and increasing costs for end users.

We are strong proponents of net neutrality because we view it as essential for ensuring online freedom. Equal access to the internet is one of the main drivers of innovation and it is the core of what makes the internet such an outstanding environment.

The introduction of “slow” and “fast” lanes would make it almost impossible for startups to compete. It could likely lead to an environment where the service that wins is not the best one, but the one with the ability to pay for ISP “fast lanes”. No matter how you try to spin this, this can only impede innovation.

Potentially even more concerning are the problems created by allowing ISPs to influence what information and content customers can consume. This could lead to a situation where instead of being able to get news from all websites, information is limited to just sites that are able to pay the most to ISPs. For democracy to thrive, information must flow freely, and without net neutrality, this core principle is compromised.

We built ProtonVPN to partially address this problem. Just like ProtonMail, ProtonVPN is built with privacy in its architecture and is designed to make it impossible for your ISP to track what sites you are visiting, or restrict access to certain sites. However, we shouldn’t be in a world where a VPN service is required to access the full Internet.

What can you do about it?

Today, over hundreds of tech companies worldwide are coming together to prevent this unwanted scenario from unfolding. Other companies participating in the Internet Day of Action with us include Amazon, Netflix, Reddit, Twitter, Spotify, Github, and many others. If you are an American citizen, you can express your disapproval to the FCC and your elected representatives through the official protest website at Battle For the Net.

Best Regards,
The ProtonMail Team

You can get a free secure email account from ProtonMail here.

You can also learn more about ProtonVPN and obtain an account here.

About the Author

Irina M

Irina is part of ProtonMail's communication team. With a background in graphic design and digital communications, she strongly supports the protection of private data and wishes to help build a safer internet for generations to come.


Comments are closed.

60 comments on “Net Neutrality is at risk in the United States. Here’s why it matters.

  • An explanation of net neutrality in comic form for people who don’t understand why it matters by .

  • This is a shame besides coming from a country which advocates the freedom!
    We have to all defend the freedom of expression without any censorship which the right of every human being at the world level.

  • Thank you 4 information ! I enjoy having PROTON account and I spread a voice among friends to get one.
    I have a question: do i have option to have a chatroom on Proton, e.g. allowing me to do business chat and simply close it after its done? I,d pay for this service. Thank you
    Vicente Angel

      • Please don’t, that market is already saturated by the likes of Signal, GNU Ring and Riot.
        We don’t need any more secure chat solutions, we need interoperability between the ones that already exist.
        So if you must, then at least take what Tom says on the ProtonChat suggestion into consideration and make it interoperable (kind of like email is) by basing it on the Matrix protocol.

  • Looks like everything is at risk in the US! There always will be someone who wants to gain the power and to be in control of everything. Forget the freedom! There is not!

    • Agreed, it seems that whenever there is something beneficial for the common people that a bunch of corporate jerks won’t rest until they figure out a way to make more money off of it, take it away or destroy it.

      Want a home in a safe area? They’ll just make the taxes so high so that now you cant afford it.
      Want to get an education? They’ll just make tuition so high so that even if you do land a good paying job you will be paying them back for as long as possible.
      Want healthcare? You better otherwise if you get sick you will be in financial ruin. It’s OK just purchase some ridiculously expensive insurance.
      Want to get a job? 90% of the jobs out there are handled by recruiters who make money off of your skills.
      Want clean drinking water? Better buy bottled water…

      At least this is the experience in New York City.

    • Net Neutrality *IS* the result of government statists who wanted to take power and control everything, at the expense of our freedom. We’re living in a 1984 world where the authorities are telling us “slavery = freedom”: exactly what net neutrality proponents are doing now.

    • That is sad but true steffi. Be careful when using public establishments also since people thinks it is okay to invade your privacy and tape you with their smart cell.

  • Among the embodiments of misuse of technology, in addition to loss of free speech due to loss of Net Neutrality, there is the physical aspect of powerful microwave that deserves attention. Victimizing a fellow being using a Horn antenna to focus energy from a microwave oven’s Magnetron is really a ‘killer app’. Hoping people will not recognize the loop hole in rule of law (no statute or penal code recognizes powerful microwave as a method to commit crime) will not render this a gaping loop-hole unworthy of government action.

  • Are you suggesting that before net neutrality rules were introduced in February 2015 the Internet was not free? Do we really need government authority to insure free Internet? Seriously?

  • How do I acquire Protonvpn? Where is it? How can I purchase it? Great article but it needs more information.

  • Thank you for sharing this information with us. It seems that freedom and privacy are slowly being taken away from us. This feels very wrong. For the amount of privacy that you have been able to help us maintain, I thank Proton Mail.

    • Don’t fall for the statist tripe. Another slight of hand to steal your rights to free access and distribution of information. If we lose the internet we are all doomed.

  • thank you protonmail and irina, thank you for bringing more attention to this. free information is a rare and beautiful thing. the powers that be are taking our freedoms and controlling information.

  • Thank you, really difficult here in UK with a Prime Minister in cahoots with Trump. As Home Secretary Theresa May’s record leaves us in no doubt we’re going to hell in a handcart if these people aren’t stopped.

  • What can the civilized world expect from the United States…? Death penalty, repressed press, corrupt and inefficient justice, authorities with too much power.

    It’s best to ignore the US, buy no more products from there and let time take care of the rest…

  • As long as D.Trump is president of the USA. As with anything, those in authority will say and do what is needed to get “the thing done” but once done, they will all do as they please/can ( The reality of things, Right!

  • Congratulations to the millenial tech leftist crowd for once again being useful idiots for giant corporations and demonstrating a total bankruptcy of basic economics, as well as the state of the internet since its inception. I swear there is nothing you cannot sell the young leftwing millenial mentality so long as you employ 95 IQ buzzwords and the most basic rhetoric to gin up the outrage machine that occupies all of their time, since they live the most amazing privileged lives in our species’ history and have nothing else to do.

  • While I understand the concern for free speech, regulation on how ISPs provide their services really isn’t the solution. The root of the issue is that the Internet industry is run by monopolies that the government has done nothing to stop. If we could break up these bloated corporations, we wouldn’t have to worry about forcing them to comply with neutrality regulations. Competition would ensure that any attempt to limit access to information would simply cause consumers to switch to another provider.

  • Dear Protonmail,

    You have an unfathomable irony in your support of Net Neutrality, you stand for privacy, but are willing to allow it to be squandered away to a government for “free internet”. Protonmail of any internet company should clearly understand the problems of giving control to the government, as they will use this to spy/manipulate/coerce free peoples.

    The main argument for Net Neutrality is that companies can decide how they share out their bandwidth, which could be skewed by them. Fast/Slow lanes, content obfuscation, content manipulation, spying…

    I cannot begin to realize how the irony of this situation is not so apparent that you must make a stand against Net Neutrality for the very reasons that ProtonMail was made.

    The main reason for ProtonMail,
    “We are scientists, engineers, and developers drawn together by a shared vision of protecting civil liberties online. This is why we created ProtonMail, an easy to use secure email service with built-in end-to-end encryption and state of the art security features. Our goal is to build an internet that respects privacy and is secure against cyberattacks.”

    Governments are the #1 abuser of privacy, content manipulation, fast/slow lanes, and civil liberty violations. ProtonMail is a guard against government intervention on free peoples rights.

    A person can switch ISPs, a person is much less likely to effect change on a government. A government does not have a bottom line, there is no one else to switch to. Companies that manipulate access to the internet will lose business, which is a mechanism to force them to keep the internet open.

    I can point to countless times governments, and even internet content companies manipulating results. Cough Google manipulating political searches, Facebook manipulating political posts…. China manipulating and restricting what content can be accessed.

    One can choose to not use Google or Facebook, one cannot so easily get around their government.

    I strongly suggest you reconsider your antithetical stance.

    ProtonMail is about not allowing manipulation, governments are the top manipulator. The NSA will have an easier back door into internet communications if the United States gets to “decide” what “fair” is and force everyone to abide by their definition.

    Know your customers, please stop pushing the opposite of your mission statement.

    Also as a side note, quit saying we want democracy. (Which is simply mob rule, usually falls into dictatorship)
    The Untied States is a Constitutional Republic, it has already deviated which is why mob rule is abound.

    The rights of individuals are paramount to a free and open society and internet and must be protected at all costs.

    • “The rights of individuals are paramount to a free and open society and internet and must be protected at all costs.”

      The rights of individuals are paramount to a free, open society and internet. It must be protected at all costs.

      Wish I could edit my comment above…

    • There is a misconception here. Net Neutrality does not give governments any more control over the Internet than they already have, it simply ensures that ISPs must treat all traffic equally. It does not make any sense to equate net neutrality rules with more government takeover of the Internet.

      Doing so is like saying, food safety regulations is equivalent to a government plot to control food.

      The point is that while the free market generally solves most problems, there are in fact situations where regulations are necessary. For instance, if given the choice, we would prefer to live in a world with food safety regulations. That doesn’t make us proponents of big government, but rather proponents of ensuring the best outcome for the people, which has always been our position from the start.

      • The “government plot to control food” has resulted in massive choke points for distribution of meat and produce in the US. Before food regulation came to be the behemoth monster it is today, most communities ate locally and food-borne sickness was localized to the community. Now it is not uncommon to see food recalls that affect large portions of the country if not all of it. Secondarily, most small scale farming operations in the US are gone, having been crushed under the burden of regulations so that most all farming in the US is controlled by a few mega-corporations. The same goes for dairy operations. If this is the future you want for the internet, then keep on supporting Net Neutrality. Eventually you will have a few large mega-corporations controlling everything under the guise of fairness whose definition will be determined by bureaucrats in DC instead of market forces. Government is never the solution…free markets with healthy, robust competition are the solution. Get your socialistic, statist-minded heads out of your asses Protonmail!

      • With respect, the idea that all traffic must be treated equally is outright bullshit. If I want to pay for my traffic getting priority over yours I should be able to. In a free world that is.

  • Net Neutrality (nothing neutral about the Government being in charge) has always been crap put in place by the socialist idiot obama & his minions!
    We (have been in IT business since 1990) are glad to see it go!
    Good riddance!

  • I have heard of Net Neutrality before. It’s sad that you’re using your site, along with many of America’s corporate shills, to misinform and scare people about net neutrality. The internet did well from its inception to 2015, before the FCC started meddling. We need to get the government’s prying hands out of the internet. Sadly, the clearnet is flooded with lies and disinformation about net neutrality, so it’s almost impossible to change the minds of anyone that what they “know” is wrong”.

  • Thank you for this information. Freedom of speech is under attack and everyone who cares about freedom need to take action and speak with one voice. You have my support and prayers. Please keep us informed.

  • What about Private Internet Systems? I read elsewhere that there is one near Kansas City Kansas with awesome speeds. You pay a small fee and you are part of a relay of others too (unused bandwidth).
    If you buy a repeater then you are in even better position for high speed internet.

  • i strongly disagree. the state should not touch the internet. it should not control the internet.

  • Like most U.S. legislation, the intent and effect of Net Neutrality are the opposite of what the name suggests. Net Neutrality empowers the FCC to override an ISP’s judgement about which data packets get prioritized. The FCC says they are protecting small entities from being outbid for bandwidth by the likes of Netflix, but the same power will let them force ISPs to throttle access to Protonmail. TOR, VPNs, etc. If I have to fight for bandwidth, I’d rather go up against Netflix than the most powerful monopoly in the world (US gov’t). And don’t be fooled by the participation of certain corporations in this “Day of Action”, the big guys always prefer getting in bed with the government when they can (these days it’s called regulatory capture… it used to be called fascism). What’s really needed is more competition among ISPs, but in the US, ISPs are granted local monopolies by state and municipal governments. Protonmail’s stance is really disappointing, I assumed they were fundamentally libertarian.

  • Ok. This is bogus nonsense. Net neutrality cedes more government control over the internet. When has that ever meant freedom. We don’t need the internet to be regulated by corrupt politicians who sell out their influence to a bunch of big corporate giants. Even calling it net neutrality is newspeak just like the Patriot Act is not about security or protection but rather is a license for governments to violate the rights of its citizens. I’m so sick of how everyone jumps on board to these half baked schemes that “sound” great, but are absolute evil. Get a clue. Read the damned documents. Sift through what is really going on and stop just being on the big government statist bandwagon. I mean, your whole purpose of existing is to allow people to escape the heavy hand of government intrusion, that’s why I am a paying supporter for your ideas and products. And yet you espouse the same game as all the other tech sellouts. I can’t even express how disappointed I am.

  • I argue this whole premiss to be false.

    A free internet should by definition be one without ANY government regulations at all. A fair point to make I think is that very few of the “net neutrality bill” supporters actually has read the bill at all, many of us follow blindly although the more logical thinking should tell that a free internet is an unregulated internet. Saying that I actually think Ajit Pai’s thinking on this topic makes sense the FCC should back of. (See the reason interview below)

    Having that point made, the premiss that “Other companies participating in the Internet Day of Action” shouldn’t be seen as a strong argument but rather a kind of authority argument tricking us into that “the competence here has spoken”. But stop and think for a moment… These big companies most probably have had a big influence in the construction of this law, mening the probability that it’s constructed to benefit the big companies is larger than the probability that it’s constructed for us.

    And yes we want a 100% unregulated internet, we want no extra threshold for entrepreneurs to open new net service companies to compete in the market with those who provide “unfair internet connections” if they do so. If greater threshold exist which the bill definitely provides fewer can compete with the big internet companies and that gives Time Warner and the other biggies even more power which is bad.

    So my harsh conclusion is that people who spreads this without having read they bill they assume to “provide” net neutrality are being duped by some small interest group wanting to use the government to lower their competition to be able to use us customers even more. So yes to hell with the bill I say, yar!

    Long live a free internet, keep government out of it we can handle our self!

  • Irina M is an idiot! This nonsense about Ajit Pai trying to destroy Net Neutrality is totally fake news. In fact the exact opposite is true that Ajit Pai is working to save our internet. See the UTube link about Ajit Pai explaining this in his own words:

    Irina M is just as misinformed as the crazy Antifa protestors who are fighting against those who are working to make the US great again. She is instigating protests against the one who is doing the most to save Net Neutrality.

  • “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” -Thomas Jefferson

    “Net Neutrality” … is a scam of government wanting control by claiming to “fix” a problem that doesn’t exist.

    In the past twenty years, access to the internet in the U.S. has become ever more widespread. Service today is far faster for many people (including “ordinary people”). On the other hand, broadband in Europe, where the internet is more tightly regulated, has less reach than it has in the United States. The innocuously termed “net neutrality”, in fact, has nothing to do with “neutrality” and has everything to do with vastly increasing the government’s control over the internet.

    It is the marketplace mechanism that drives the markets for food, clothing, and a host of other products. Similarly, cell phones have become more affordable and more widespread in recent decades thanks to a free and open marketplace.

    In the net neutrality debate, it’s absurd to suggest that the FCC will somehow necessarily work “in the public interest”. First, the FCC so regards the public so that it refuses to make its own proposals public. Second, who will define who this “public” is? Finally, how will this governing body determine what “the public” wants? If you think net neutrality will somehow give “the people” greater voice in how bandwidth is allocated and ISPs function, you’d better think again.

    Concentrated political power frightened the our Founders. They believed that only by limiting government could liberty survive the natural tendency of man to dictate the habits of other men. Once government dig its claws firmly into the internet marketplace, other things like censorship and surveillance will surely follow because control is ultimately what they are after.

  • Regulating the internet under the spurious guise of “net neutrality” by the Obama administration – one of the most harmful and intrusive administrations in American history – is specious and harmful to liberty-conscious individuals. ProtonMail’s position that supports this measure is extraordinarily revealing of who ProtonMail supports and where their underlying ideological ties are. I would advise all to either boycott purchasing ProtonMail’s services or pressure them to do the right thing and not support falsely and misleadingly named “Net Neutrality” measures.

  • why is the FCC allowing ISPs to get so powerful? If the telephone company was not allowed to snoop in my calls or prevent me from calling a number unless I instructed, why should the ISP be allowed to regulate what I see/read/browse? FCC should regulate communication, NOT Deregulate for the sake of ISPs!!
    FCC do your JOB, monitor and slap ISPs should you need to, don’t be their LAP DOG.

  • Sadly, the backroom deals in Congress, lobbyists with skin in the game and the greed motive of both, conspire not only against the freedoms of US citizens. Bad US policy spills out to infect her trading partners and cultural side-kicks. This is why, as an Australian, I also sent an e-letter to Congress. This decision will affect my life, my capacity for equal participation, my free speech as does every US war and manipulated economic disaster. With borderless technology, the dose of activism should reflect the potential of the disease to do harm – in this case, it’s a slow death of net equity via privilege executing deprivation and control. Yet again. How is it that repeatedly, rubbish legislation continues, in plain light of day, to enjoy an express route to the greased palms of power, palms apparently capable only of wielding a rubber stamp? And it seems the greater the potential for collateral damage, the easier the traffic flow$. Follow the money. Literally, day and night – the only thing that will change the habitual abuse of power is the same degree of freedom disruption. Turn the tables, spotlight the individuals and run the same story every day – daily tag lines. This does not require millions of people, just a handful on the ground doing their civic duty, peacefully, respectfully and with vigilance.

    The Protonmail blog on Net Neutrality is an excellent contribution, well said and congratulations for standing up and being counted. Love and light!

  • Net Neutrality is a very bad thing. It gives the government way too much control over the internet. It’s not nearly as simple as this article would have you believe. It’s like saying ObamaCare is about “healthcare for all”. No, ObamaCare is 3,000 page law that references another 50,000 pages in laws. It’s a massive bureaucracy that massively expands the government’s reach. “Healthcare for all” is just the slogan to sell it to people who don’t have time to learn the truth.

    It’s the same thing with net neutrality. “Fast lanes” and “slow lanes” is just how Soros and the global communists are trying to sell it. If they stated what it really was, no one would support it.

  • WAAAY disappointed in Protonmail for espousing this Orwellian idea of “Net Neutrality”…You would think a company dedicated to privacy of it’s users would have a more in depth understanding of what NN really is:

    Posted on July 10, 2017 by Actual Anarchy
    Net Neutrality is Newspeak for Cronyism

    Net Neutrality needs to be “unmasked” so to speak.

    The government wants it. Progressives want it. High bandwidth-consuming companies want it.

    The story goes:

    [insert giant ISP here] is the great evil of big business wielding its power against free speech. Only the humble government can ride in on its white steed of Justice to protect the poor children from being exploited by the greedy capitalists.

    The concept of “Net Neutrality” sounds noble and fair. All traffic gets treated equally. What would be the problem with that?

    Even those espousing the freedom position can get caught up in this Orwellian newspeak.
    What they “want” you to think.

    The reality is though, that boot would only smash the snake…not the Net Neutrality part.

    But, it’s a warm and fuzzy boot and it matters not if the boot of government is from the Left or the Right, it is ALWAYS squashing the free and open internet.
    What is actually is

    Net Neutrality = Cronyism

    Net Neutrality is a nice sounding term for government control. Net Neutrality is a trojan horse. It does not equal freedom.

    What if you as a consumer or provider would like the opportunity to choose to pay more for better service?

    Net Neutrality tries to remove the pricing system from the equation. All traffic is equal.

    You can’t pay for higher speed.

    You jam everybody through the same pipe. And what happens when you try to jam more stuff down a decaying pipe with no incentive for technological innovation and improvement?

    You get government roads:
    No price system in place leads to overuse

    You get government schools:
    No price system means no competitive incentives for improvement

    You get the government post office:
    No real price system leads to long lines and poor service

    If only “Net Neutrality” meant “Free from government control”

    If they meant “neutral” as in how the Swiss mean it…not picking sides; then I could get onboard.

    I think it is an intentionally obfuscating term that couches the evils within it with warm fuzzies, pictures of puppies and rainbow-pooping unicorns.

    It would be more aptly “Net Atrophy”

    In contrast, the internet should be more so of the following terms:

    “Spontaneous”, “Unencumbered”, “Dynamic”, “Competitive”, “Unfettered”, “Unshackled”, “Emancipated”?

    For further reading:“day-action”-corporate-welfare-not-free-internet

  • I’m a paid ProtonMail subscriber, have been been on-line since the BBS days, and am firmly against the concept of Net Neutrality.

    My reasons were summed up succinctly in an article that appeared on Mashable’s site in 2014 and apply just as well now. They are:

    1) It gives the government more power over the Internet.

    2) It’s not a free market solution.

    3) Little regulation has worked fine until [up to] now.

    4) Classifying the Internet as a common carrier service wouldn’t have the intended effect.

    5) Charging everyone the same price isn’t fair.

    For more details, see the article here:

  • I endorse this ptotest. I was deleted and banned from InterNations 2 weeks ago simply for publically protesting. New data privacy policy that clearly violates EU law snd regs. I USA barrister of 27 years experience. Also am veteran investigative journalist. I plan strategic combined public relations and legal attack against InterNations. That is why I joined Proton, to wage this war. IN wants to steal and monitise pvt data of all kinds from 3 million members. If you cold be only as background source it would be very helpful.

    Felen dank!!

    Stefan van Drake aka