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US States Fight for Net Neutrality and Consumer Privacy

Get started on your cybersecurity degree at American Military University.

Interview with Dr. Kenneth L. Williams, CISSP
APUS Cybersecurity Center Director

This article was originally featured in “(ISC)², in partnership with Bloomberg BNA.

How the FTC enforces consumer protections has taken on even greater importance now that the Federal Communication Commission has repealed net neutrality rules that existed since 2015.

Primary regulatory oversight of broadband internet service providers (ISPs) is expected to return to the FTC, which publicly announced its readiness to “resume its role as the cop on the broadband beat, where it has vigorously protected the privacy and security of consumer data and challenged broadband providers who failed to live up to their promises to consumers.”

Despite the FTC’s track record of policing ISPs, several states – including Washington, New York, Rhode Island and California – have taken legislative action in response to the FCC’s net neutrality repeal. Under an executive order signed in early February by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, the state will only enter into contracts with ISPs that adhere to net neutrality. New York and Montana have put in place similar measures, arguing that without restrictions on ISPs, the internet will not remain open and fair.

“Net neutrality will impact the data privacy of users that choose not to pay for premium service or lack the resources to do so,” said Kenneth Williams, director of the American Public University System Center for Cyber Defense. Privacy could be compromised for individuals unable to pay for high bandwidth and premium services like a virtual private network (VPN), he added.

If ISPs throttle and block network traffic to allow high-priority traffic, it prevents the equal use of the data lanes and favors services that can pay higher access fees over those that cannot. In regard to VPNs, if there is decreased bandwidth, the service may terminate and abort the attempt to transmit the information, therefore impacting privacy, Williams said. Proxy services, which require extra bandwidth, could also be impacted and privacy compromised.

The Takeaway: While many U.S. states are fighting for net neutrality, ISPs now have more power to prioritize different types of internet traffic. This could affect small businesses and startups that may not be able to afford ISP fees.

About Ken Williams

Kenneth Williams, Ph.D., is the program director of cybersecurity at American Military University. He holds a doctoral degree in cybersecurity and a master’s degree in information security/assurance from Capella University.

In addition, Kenneth is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and holds Security+ and CompTIA certifications. In the past, he has also held positions such as President/Chief Information Officer for Thelka Professional Associates; Adjunct Professor for Northern Virginia Community College, DeVry University and Sullivan University; IT Specialist/Cybersecurity Compliance Auditor for the U.S. Army Inspector General; Information System Security/VOIP Engineer and Contract Lead for the U.S. Army’s CECOM; and Information System Security Engineer and Technical Manager/Chief Information Officer for Onyma, Inc. He is an Army veteran with over 14 years of service.

About (ISC)²

(ISC)² is an international nonprofit membership association best known for its award-winning Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) certification, with additional certification and education programs that holistically address security. Our membership, 130,000 strong internationally, is made up of sought-after cyber, information, software and infrastructure security professionals who are making a difference and helping to advance this new industry. Our vision to inspire a safe and secure cyber world reaches the general public through a commitment to social responsibility via our charitable foundation – The Center for Cyber Safety and EducationTM. For more information on (ISC)², visit http://www.isc2.org, follow us on Twitter or connect with us on Facebook.