Net neutrality has been a hotbed political topic for at least a decade, but the roots of it go way back in Internet history. The idea is that all data will be treated equally by the Internet’s gate keepers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
In the 1970s, long before the commercial Internet as we know it, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) researchers began testing for the next phase of the defense department’s information network, ARPANET, which officially went online in 1969. The result of this research is the TCP/IP communications protocol that currently underlies the Internet structure of today.
On January 1, 1983, known as flag day, NCP was officially rendered obsolete when the ARPANET changed its core networking protocols from NCP to the more flexible and powerful TCP/IP protocol suite, marking the start of the modern Internet. (Source)
The idea behind TCP/IP was to create an end-to-end communications protocol for all computers on the network, and all networks that connected to it as well, in order to ensure that no intermediary nodes, such as routers and modems, could discriminate between the types of data being transmitted.
So you can see, the idea of net neutrality was embedded in the Internet right from the very beginning by the U.S. Department of Defense itself. It was not until commercial interests got involved when the principle came under question.
5 Ways a Decentralized Internet Can Fix Net Neutrality
Despite an overwhelming majority of Americans that support net neutrality, in December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to end the policy of upholding it. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over. The answer to net neutrality may not be in legislation or regulation (solutions rarely are). Rather, the answer may be in the market itself. Below are five ways a decentralized Internet can fix net neutrality.
1. A decentralized Internet will preserve the values of ARPANET
Since the ARPANET came online in 1969, net neutrality has been one of its chief characteristics. Since it was a Department of Defense (DoD) asset, you can bet the DoD didn’t want restrictions on its usage (other than for national security purposes). However, when the TCP/IP protocol (stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) was adopted in 1982, the values embodied in net neutrality were written into the protocols themselves by their creators in what is known as the end-to-end principle, or end-to-end communications.
In 1982, the Internet was still under DoD control. It didn’t go commercial until 1990. Yet, one of its chief architects, Vint Cerf, is on the record for supporting net neutrality, as is the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. TCP/IP is essentially a decentralized network as illustrated by this early design drawing:
2. A decentralized Internet complies with the values of Satoshi Nakamoto
Not only would a decentralized Internet maintain the integrity of the infrastructure of the current Internet, as well as the ARPANET that preceded it, but it would also comply with the original intent of Satoshi Nakamoto, inventor of Bitcoin. The presumed author of “Duality: An excerpt,” he wrote:
Bitcoin had to be created with a focus on general consensus. But without a trusted third party. I struggled with this notion. The concept in practice was foreign. How can I get all these people to agree on something, and trust that the network itself was not being modified or tampered with indiscriminately?
The answer was a protocol. The model itself, which I thought none had existed, came into view very quickly. It had been staring at me all this time, I had been using it for years, and had never taken into account how efficiently it worked. Sometimes things work so well that you never question their existence. They just are. The answer, was the internet itself. And the network, was peer-to-peer.
In other words, as he was creating Bitcoin, he struggled with the issue of trust and determined that the answer was in the way the Internet itself was structured–as a decentralized peer-to-peer network of agnostic nodes placed at various geographic locations around the globe.
Once again, this decentralized nature of the Internet as an inherent part of its infrastructure has come to be compromised by various commercial interests that seek to control the entry points of information and the dissemination of information through the websites they control.
3. A decentralized Internet will reduce unwanted surveillance
Everywhere you go on the Internet, someone is watching you. While Decenternet drives this point home in their white paper, it’s almost become their only talking point. It certainly is their primary one. I agree that this is a major concern. Surveillance is all around us.
For starters, your browser reports so much information about you that virtually anyone can identify your unique digital fingerprint. If you don’t believe me, have your browser tested by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But even if your browser passes the test, website cookies are tracking you all over the Internet. Virtually everyone who has something to sell online is using cookies, and some of these cookies, which are dropped into your Internet browser, report back which sites you are visiting, how often, what times of day, and are being used to market similar products to the ones you’ve expressed an interest in by your browsing habits. And there’s also the information you give out willingly and voluntarily to sites that ask for it. Do you know what they’re doing with it?
In some cases, your information is being used by sites you frequent–like Facebook and Google–for purposes you may not be aware of. For instance, Facebook shares certain information with their advertisers. And Google uses your information to make their search features more profitable.
Decenternet promises to remedy this mass surveillance with a web browser that does not collect any information on you at all. Furthermore, their operating system, Anuvys, promises not to collect data on you and to make your Internet experience more secure.
4. An open-source Internet makes it more free
Freedom exists in a myriad of ways. There is, first and foremost, a to aspect of freedom, and then there is a from aspect of freedom. The to aspect of freedom allows an individual to do something that they might not otherwise get to do. For instance, the invention of automobiles allowed individuals to travel farther in a shorter period of time. Air travel gave even more freedom to travel great distances in a very short period of time.
The from aspect of freedom gives an individual new access to liberty by removing an obstacle or restraining a barrier. For instance, if you are tied to a bed post and are able to cut the restraint or break the bind that keeps you tethered, you’ll be free from restriction of movement.
An open-source Internet ensures transparency allowing individuals who use it for personal use or business to be free from restrictions that keep them from earning a living or experiencing content they have an interest in. It also allows them to monitor the code so that others can’t restrict the use of the Internet or place limitations on it, which allows all users the freedom to explore the Internet in accordance with their own values and interests. Granted, such a freedom might lead to increased criminal use of the Internet, but it would also lead to less unnecessary surveillance. It also means the Internet cannot be used as a political tool to oppress others.
An open-source decentralized Internet would maximize freedom while minimizing threats to it.
5. A crypto economy will ensure all the values of a free and open Internet can be enjoyed by everyone all the time
This is the benefit that I think is the biggest selling point to a decentralized Internet. A crypto economy based on a limited supply of a cryptocurrency that is generated when users browse the Internet, buy and sell goods and services through the Internet, and mine the digital asset by devoting some of their hardware resources to such use will keep the free flow of information alive and ensure that everyone can participate in the digital economy of the Web.
A decentralized peer-to-peer network of computers that allows freedom of enterprise through a cryptocurrency designed for that purpose would free individuals from the inflationary nature of fiat currency and allow a free market to exist in cyberspace free from coercion and intimidation. This would benefit people in third-world countries and living under repressive regimes the most. It would also create opportunity for millions of people who currently have little in economies that are devastated and stagnant. This rising tide would also benefit developed economies like the U.S. and Europe by opening the door to greater trade.
Decenternet’s Spyce is, in my opinion, the underpinning of all the benefits a decentralized Internet has to offer. A cryptocurrency, by its nature, is appreciative, not inflationary. It can also be used by anyone located anywhere in the world without needing to go through fiat currency exchanges.
Currently, anyone logged into the Internet is paying to do so. A digital economy based on earning cryptocurrency for participating will reward users for sharing their hardware assets, creating content, building Dapps, buying and selling, searching for information, and doing all the things that netizens currently do with their Internet service. Instead of paying for it, you can be paid for doing it. That economy, over time, and the currency that underpins will appreciate in value allowing everyone to benefit.
Spyce represents peace, abundance, and liberty on the Internet through decentralization and true peer-to-peer, keeping with the original values of the ARPANET, Bitcoin, and net neutrality.
Whether Decenternet is the decentralized Internet we need now or not remains to be seen as it won’t go live until 2020, but I am ready for a decentralized Internet, and I hope you are too.
To learn more about Decenternet on your own, check out their web properties and social media profiles:
- Check out Decenternet’s website
- Check out ANUVYS
- Follow the Decenternet Facebook page
- Follow Decenternet on Twitter
- Join the Decenternet Telegram group