Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh

November 28, 2017

In the last week, BestVPN.com has noticed a massive spike in users searching for a VPN for torrenting. This is likely for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Austria recently ruled that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must begin blocking two of the most popular torrenting sites: The Pirate Bay and 1337x. Austria’s Supreme Court made the decision after litigators complained on behalf of copyright holders including Justin Bieber, The Beatles, One Direction, Michael Jackson, and Queen.

The decision has annoyed thousands of Austrian internet users, who are suddenly facing 502 error codes when attempting to access popular torrenting websites. It is not just The Pirate Bay and 1337x that ISPs in Austria must now block, either. As such, a VPN is necessary to access a large number of torrenting sites now blocked by Austrian ISPs.

US Net Neutrality Repeal

The biggest influx of internet users wanting a VPN for torrenting, however, is from the US. This is due to the FCC’s announcement that it is likely to repeal net neutrality laws by Christmas. Repealing those net neutrality laws will permit ISPs to begin throttling torrenting websites, making them insanely slow and hard to download content from.

Concerned consumers are likely searching for a VPN service because a VPN’s encryption makes it impossible for ISPs to detect which website an internet user is accessing. The result is that a VPN can successfully overcome any throttling that US ISPs might soon impose. 

“Back Ten Years”

The idea that ISPs might begin throttling popular torrenting websites is infuriating many US citizens. Ten years ago, it was discovered that Comcast – one of the biggest ISPs in the US – was throttling BitTorrent websites. It was doing this in order to ease the pressure on its networks.

That case forced the US to take a close look at net neutrality. It created a nationwide conversation that ultimately led to the FCC’s Open Internet Order three years later. Since then, US internet users and websites have been afforded legislative protection to access website content in a neutral manner. With net neutrality repealed, advocates fear that ISPs will once again begin throttling websites. In fact, many people worry that this time around, ISPs will be legally permitted to begin restricting or even charging for access to certain sites and services.

Consumers could be charged for using internet fast lanes, and websites could find themselves having to pay massive fees in order to deliver their website content at the highest possible speeds. In essence, ISPs will become kings of the internet, selecting which websites and services have priority.

Due to the fact that ISPs like Comcast and Verizon have vested interests in the entertainment markets (with online video delivery services of their own), many people believe that the US is about to see the free internet torn down.

Open Internet Order

Despite the earlier adoption of the Open Internet Order, net neutrality only came into full effect in 2015. During the Obama administration, the FCC ruled that ISPs could be regulated as carriers under Title II. That decision created an absolute standard that stops ISPs from blocking and throttling traffic. It also stops ISPs from enacting paid prioritization of traffic.

Sadly, according to Ajit Pai, the present head of the FCC, the current net neutrality laws are “too restrictive.” Pai believes that they are hindering competition, stifling innovation, and inhibiting investment. Despite those claims, Pai has never been able to objectively counter the arguments of detractors. His adversaries claim that, in reality, repealing net neutrality laws will allow ISPs to have even more control over the internet, exerting almost monopolistic powers.

The reason for this is that US consumers are already subjected to just a few massive ISPs. As it stands, there is little competition because those ISPs create an oligopoly that smaller providers can’t easily compete with.

The idea that giving those ISPs greater powers will create a more even playing field is seriously questionable. It just doesn’t make much sense. What’s more, the fact that Pai used to be an attorney for one of those ISPs – Verizon – doesn’t exactly bode well. In fact, it stinks of inside dealings and corporate cronyism. 

Final Repeal Draft

This week, the FCC released its final repeal draft. Most people believe that the document will permit all of their worst nightmares to come true. Some people see it as the end of the internet as we know it. Certainly, the dangers are obvious to anyone, and if ISPs’ past greed is anything to go by, then it’s likely that US internet users can expect to see throttling and internet ‘fast lanes.’

Of course, we will have to wait and see how it all plays out in the real world. It’s possible that Comcast and Verizon could suddenly start throttling Youtube and Netflix unless consumers pay an extra tariff. On the other hand, Netflix and Google could be made to pay extra themselves – in order to keep providing their services to their subscribers. 

In fact, there’s no reason why money gained from charging massive services like eBay, Amazon, YouTube, and the like – to keep delivering their content at the highest speeds – couldn’t be transferred into savings on the cost of internet for users. If this were to happen, Trump would suddenly become a modern day Robin Hood. It is possible – though admittedly – rather unlikely.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see. One thing is for sure: the sudden influx of US consumers looking for a VPN for torrenting gives you an insight into what common people expect to happen, and torrent website throttling seems to be their main concern.

Opinions are the writer’s own.

Title image credit: RedHanded/Shutterstock.com

Image credits:  Bakhtiar Zein/Shutterstock.com, xtock/Shutterstock.com, Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock.com

Ray Walsh
March 17th, 2018

I am a freelance journalist and blogger from England. I am highly interested in politics and in particular the subject of IR. I am an advocate for freedom of speech, equality, and personal privacy. On a more personal level I like to stay active, love snowboarding, swimming and cycling, enjoy seafood, and love to listen to trap music.

2 responses to “Torrenting VPN Rush as FCC Promises Net Neutrality Repeal

  1. Pooter says:

    How might this effect us in Europe?
    Does the US control the internet for all the world?
    Could the US be by-passed in terms of internet?

    1. Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Pooter,

      The problem for the rest of us is that the United States exerts huge power over the internet. In fact, 80% of all internet traffic passes through US ISPs. This means that if a service is throttled or blocked by those ISPs, website loading times will increase and we’ll experience more buffering when streaming content.

      This applies no matter where in the world we are, or whether the service is based in the US.

      In addition to this, it sets a very dangerous precedent. Where the most powerful country in the world leads, others will follow. Removing net neutrality protections leaves consumers open to rapacious profiteering from ISPs.

      With such potentially huge sums of money to be made at the expense of ordinary internet users, you can be sure that ISPs in your country are slavering over the prospect of net neutrality expiring in America with all the predatory anticipation of vultures watching a dying animal!

      Proof of this is signs that the EU is moving in the same direction.

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