While nearly every country in the world has its own rules and ideas regarding what should or should not be accessible on the internet, there are clearly some areas that take more interest in what their citizens should be able to find online. The Russian government, for example, is known for its demands that Google removes certain websites from search results, especially after Russia itself has already banned them.
On February 6th, Google announced that it will start complying with this request, which now serves as an example of a government teaming up with a corporation to control the online world. China is another example of a country that greatly filters online content, which resulted in many of its citizens using tools like VPNs simply to be able to access their favorite websites.
While such policies violate net neutrality, they can also be abused to prevent access to digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, and even blockchain technology. In addition, governments could order their ISPs to throttle internet speed whenever they detect that someone is trying to access blockchain and crypto-based services.
There is also a possibility that the government might start filtering which assets could be reached and which could not, with some cryptocurrencies being forbidden, and others encouraged. As a result, this type of censorship may have large consequences of the mass adoption of the blockchain, as well as its products, such as cryptocurrencies, dApps, and alike.
Threats to Net Neutrality and the Crypto Space
After censorship issues started threatening to disrupt the free flow of the internet, the concept of net neutrality came to life, claiming that the internet users should be treated equally, with no discrimination based on the user’s identity or the content they want to access. The goal is to make all platforms, apps, sites, services, and even equipment equally accessible to everyone.
After all, net neutrality is the very idea on which the internet was based on. Users were supposed to have complete freedom to access any type of content they want. However, if there is any type of censorship or filtering, there is no true freedom, meaning that there is no true equality.
Then, there is bandwidth throttling, which is basically the ISP purposefully slowing down users’ internet speed in an attempt to disrupt their online actions. While at first, this may seem like an inconvenience, more than a real problem, the fact is that it can have large consequences and even endanger lives.
One example of this was throttling done by Verizon during the forest fire in 2018 when the ISP disrupted the firefighters’ ability to communicate and properly organize. The fire ended up destroying more of the natural habitat, as well as a portion of populated areas, and the fire department even had to pay for additional bandwidth.
When questioned about the incident, Verizon stated that the move was made due to an error and that it does not revolve around net neutrality. However, the very fact that they can do this is a violation of net neutrality, as it damages someone’s ability to access the web.
Due to the blockchain’s decentralized nature and high levels of transparency, this technology’s very existence falls perfectly in line with net neutrality principles. Anyone can access it and use it without the need for any third party, as long as they have internet access. Blockchain and Bitcoin can be used in any way the user wants, which is the ultimate freedom online.
However, if access to the blockchain and Bitcoin is restricted, that violates the net neutrality, just like throttling. If the government decides to ban access to Bitcoin, its blockchain, wallets, exchanges, and other similar websites, this is directly impacting the internet users’ freedom. Furthermore, companies like Google can even be punished by the governments for providing access to something that should not be accessed.
The issues can go even further, and all those who ever showed any interest in Bitcoin or blockchain may become victims of throttling.
It is because of this that the goal to decentralize the web is so important, for as long as the governments control the internet through their ISPs, they can violate net neutrality with no consequences. Meanwhile, the consequences suffered by the users could go from mild annoyance to high censorships and even the loss of lives. And, for as long as net neutrality is not safe, neither is Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency out there.