Get a NordVPN FREE Trial – Working in 2020

This article will show you how to get a NordVPN free trial. Because with a top service like NordVPN the silver lining is that a VPN can help you protect yourself, your device, and your identity.

Get the NordVPN Free Trial

In today’s world, staying private is more important than ever. Not only are corporations actively looking to snoop on what you do online; between government snooping and ISP tracking, virtually everyone is trying to keep tabs on every little thing you do on the web. Things are even worse if you live in a country that ranks poorly for Internet freedom.

Put simply, a VPN is a piece of technology that encrypts your data while hiding your real IP. Most VPNs are either paid or decidedly bad. As you’re about to find out in this article, it’s not uncommon for free providers to be unsafe or even use your computer to launch botnet attacks (yikes!).

Moreover, the police, the government, and corporations can often see everything you do with no restrictions. Even if you live in a developed country like the US, agencies like the NSA can still find ways to see what you’re up to. Keep reading to learn how to avoid this, why you might want a free VPN, what NordVPN is and how you can use it for free.

Introducing NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the best (many say the best) premium VPNs on the web. Below, we explain how it works, and how you can get it for free.

NordVPN may not have the single biggest server network in the industry, but it’s not far off. Spanning more than 5,400 servers in 61 countries worldwide, NordVPN gives you an astounding range of spoofable IP addresses to choose from for any purpose you can think of. Sheer numbers not enough?

What about their array of specialty servers, each specifically tuned to a different use-case? (These are: onion over VPN, anti-DDoS, multi-hop VPN, P2P, dedicated IP address, and obfuscated servers.) That’s enough utility to unblock Netflix, blast through the Great Firewall of China, or simply browse, download and torrent in peace. Feel free to take your fill of the free and open Internet too; with NordVPN, you’ll never hit caps on bandwidth or speed–never experience throttling, nor run out of server switches.

In addition to having a vast server network, NordVPN is both fast and secure. Everything starts with 256-bit AES encryption, which is so tough that a supercomputer would need millions of years to break just one passcode. Specific protocols include OpenVPN’s cutting-edge UDP and TCP protocols, as well as SSTP: a technology that can beat even the harshest censorship filters.

The logging policy is airtight too, with no records of your traffic, IP addresses, timestamps, bandwidth, or browsing history ever being stored. Last but not least, NordVPN’s holding company is based in Panama – a neutral country – which means that major world governments can do nothing to force your data out of NordVPN.

No matter your requirements, it’s hard to go wrong with NordVPN.

Learn even more in our comprehensive NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Very affordable plans
  • Over 5,400 servers in 61 countries
  • Strong encryption is used on all connections
  • “Double” data protection
  • 30-day money back guarantee.
Cons

  • Very little
  • Sometimes slow in procesing refunds (but always do).
GET NORDVPN FREE: NordVPN is a titan of the industry, offering impenetrable security for any use-case. Get it cheap – 70% off – and then claim your money back after 30 days when the money-back guarantee expires.

How to get NordVPN for free

NordVPN isn’t just a top-notch VPN service; it’s also a generous company. They don’t offer a free trial per se, but you can try their service risk-free because the service comes with a 30-day money back guarantee —  just use it if you’re not happy or call it a NordVPN free trial, there will be no strings attached, and no questions asked.

It might seem a bit scary to pay for 3 years of service, but fret not, you’ll easily be able to cancel the service and get 100% of your money back anytime you want. Some people do just this when they only need a VPN for a limited time, like traveling to a censorship-heavy country for work or vacation.

Can you trust NordVPN?

You know the old adage: if something’s too good to be true, it probably is. In that sense, you may be wondering is the brand really safe to use? Or, are they going to steal your information or even use your computer to do something bad? Questions like these are natural, especially given all the negative publicity free VPNs have received in the past.

Fortunately, we can confidently put all your worries to rest.

NordVPN is one of the biggest, most established premium VPNs in the industry. Sure, its end goal is to get paying customers and make a profit but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Charging users a few bucks a month is what lets NordVPN pay for new servers (which they do quite frequently), hire developers, maintain a 24/7 support line, and continually upgrade its security.  You get what you pay for, and NordVPN delivers value in spades. User reviews have raved about the service since its founding in 2012. Well-funded R&D is the key to quality, here.

The money-back guarantee is a way to demonstrate they stand by their product, and to signal there’s absolutely no obligation or risk to you.

It’s also important to remember two more things. First, since NordVPN is a business, it has a direct stake in your security and anonymity. If someone accesses your browsing data or otherwise compromises your security while you’re using NordVPN, the brand is going to look bad, and lose (a lot of) money. They don’t want this. The result is that NordVPN invests a lot of time and money into offering the best possible service.

This is the primary reason to go with NordVPN as your “free” VPN provider; you really can trust them to deliver a high-quality service, every time.

Why does NordVPN need my card information?

  1. First, this is a way to make sure you don’t keep signing up for a NordVPN free trial. They charge your card when you sign up to make sure that the same person doesn’t use the same card to keep using the service for free in perpetuity.
  2. Second, even if you’re signing up for a long-term NordVPN subscription while planning to cancel later, you’re still going to get charged upfront.

For these two reasons, you will need to have a working card or another way to pay for NordVPN to access it for free.

RELATED READING: NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Which One Is Right for Me?

Canceling NordVPN and getting a refund

Did you forget to cancel your free subscription and get charged? Or, are you looking to shamelessly make use of NordVPN’s generous policies to your financial gain? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how you get your money back, step by step.

  • Step 1: Go to nordvpn.com, log into your account, then click the “cancel automatic payments” link at the bottom of your billing history.
  • Step 2: Confirm that you wish to confirm the account. If asked to give a reason for canceling, pick the most appropriate option.
  • Step 3: Your account will no longer auto-renew, but it is not yet canceled. To really cancel it, you need to contact customer services. The easiest way to do this is by clicking the blue icon at the bottom right of your screen. Alternatively, you can make a phone call to customer service.
  • Step 4: Once you’re talking to a customer service representative, explain that you want to cancel your account. Provided you can give a simple, straightforward reason – even if it’s “I realized I don’t need the service” – you won’t be pressured to change your mind.
  • Step 5: Wait for your refund to process, usually in 1-2 working days.

Why get a free VPN?

There are many reasons to want a free VPN. For starters, you may not have a convenient way to pay for one. Many people around the world either can’t or won’t make online payments for all kinds of reasons, anonymity being a major one. For example, let’s say you’re highly concerned about your safety and security when online. Buying a VPN leaves all kinds of paper trails, from leaving a trace on your bank statement, to receipts, to you being a registered customer of a VPN company. All of this is highly undesirable for you if you prioritize privacy since it makes it possible (if difficult) to identify you.

Another important treason is that the best VPN deals are usually for year-long or multi-year subscriptions. This is undesirable if you don’t need a VPN often. For example, let’s say you just want to try accessing one service from a foreign IP. Alternatively, imagine you’re going abroad and want to continue using the Internet as you would back home without anyone knowing. In situations like these, it just doesn’t make sense to buy into a long-term VPN subscription. This is another key reason why you might want a free VPN.

Last but not least, there’s the moral aspect of privacy. Many people believe that being able to do what you want without being watched by Internet Service Providers, governments, and corporations is a basic human right. From this point of view, there’s no reason not to use a free VPN. Moreover, as you’re about to find out, some free VPNs offer some the same key features that a regular, paid VPN does. This makes it an excellent option for anonymity and security.

What are the limitations of a free VPN?

Most free VPNs have a number of limitations that paid ones don’t. For example, you can only use a free VPN to do so many things. This usually means browsing, using basic social media, and downloading small files. Things that you can’t do usually include P2P filesharing, streaming videos, and loading larger files. This can make things a little vexing if you expect your regular Internet experience when using a free VPN.

Another factor is that free VPNs usually have limited speed, bandwidth, and servers. Speed is usually hard-capped, meaning that gaming, downloading, etc is very limited. Bandwidth is also limited, meaning that once you hit a certain limit, you can no longer use your free VPN. Last but not least, server numbers and server switches are also finite, meaning that you can only access so many IPs. If you want an IP that’s not in a popular country like the UK, Canada, or the US, you’re almost guaranteed to be out of luck. These are some of the bigger drawbacks to using a free VPN.

Are free VPNs safe?

Paid VPNs usually have a number of security-oriented features. This includes strong encryption, no-logging policies that prevent records from being stored, and more. Many free VPNs make it appear that you’re going to get the same features – but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, an unscrupulous free VPN can be a serious threat to your online and anonymity. To understand why, consider that all VPNs – including free ones – need to make money. Servers aren’t free, neither are bandwidth or traffic.

So, how do these free VPNs make money? Many display (or bombard you with) ads and/or gently prods you to buy the full version of their service. Nothing nefarious here. However, a number of VPNs actually collects your information and sell it to third parties. This lets them make an excellent profit, but it also means that you’re not really anonymous. Moreover, free VPNs don’t have the resources nor the motivation to fight legal action, meaning that they’re very likely to give up all your data if a government or ISP comes asking for it. Again, not the best features to have considering the reason to get a VPN in the first place is for anonymity and protection.

Then there’s the fact that VPNs can access your computer’s data and processing power. In one famous story, this let a free VPN’s designers harness users’ processing power to launch botnet attacks. This is arguably the worst possible thing that can happen with a free VPN since it means that you’re now involved in a crime. Even worse, your logs are very unlikely to be kept secret if anything goes wrong, meaning you can potentially get in a whole lot of trouble. For all these reasons, it’s important to be very careful with free VPNs.

RELATED READING: Best VPN services reviewed by AddictiveTips

Two free VPNs to avoid

There are 2 specific VPNs that have previously put their users in danger. We strongly urge you to avoid them.

Hola

This is a service that creates a VPN network by relying on users’ devices and Internet connections. The problem with this is that other people can use your device for all kinds of nefarious things. Moreover, Hola doesn’t have solid encryption or a good no-logging policy. This means that you’re vulnerable in every way possible. This is especially bad because Hola has been accused of selling users’ processing power to hacker criminals, e.g. for use in illegal botnets. In short, avoid this service by all means.

HideMyAss

This popular, free VPN has consistently given up users’ logs to authorities, essentially making it worthless in terms of protecting your data. HMA claims to have a no-logging policy, but they monitor usernames, real IP addresses, and more, which essentially means they do keep logs. We can think of virtually no good reason to use this service – at least if you value your privacy to any degree.

Closing words

Now you know all about getting NordVPN for free. You also know all the basics of using any VPN service, free or paid, to access the Internet securely and anonymously. What are you going to do next? Take a minute to leave a note and let us know. We love getting your feedback and will do our best to answer any questions in future articles.

The post Get a NordVPN FREE Trial – Working in 2020 appeared first on AddictiveTips.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Comparison Review 2020

Today, we’re comparing two titans of the VPN industry: NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN. Both have a plethora of privacy provisions and excellent performance for their price, but ultimately only one will best satisfy your needs. Read on to get a comprehensive rundown of their benefits and features, plus exclusive discounts on each provider’s subscription plans.

If you pay attention to the world of internet security, then you’ll have heard many people talk about the importance of using a VPN to enhance your security and preserve your privacy online. With increasing monitoring of internet use and electronic communications by groups ranging from the government to copyright lawyers, it’s now more important that ever to take steps to keep yourself safe while you use the internet. And a VPN is the best way to do this.

It can be hard to choose a VPN provider, however. With hundreds of VPN providers out there, you may not know which one would best suit your needs. Here are Addictive Tips we often provide recommendations for the best VPNs for various needs, and two of our regular favourites are NordVPN and ExpressVPN. If you’ve narrowed down your options for a provider to these two, you might be wondering how they compare to each other in terms of features, ease of use, and reliability. This is the topic that we’ll be discussing today in our article on NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: which is the best VPN?

Do I Need a VPN?

As we mentioned, the two primary reasons to use a VPN are to protect your privacy and to enhance your internet safety. Another reason to use a VPN is so that you can accessing region locked content such as streaming services – for example, so you can use BBC iPlayer from outside of the UK or use the Hotstar streaming service from outside India.

If you’re considering getting a VPN for the first time then you might be tempted to use a free VPN to save some cash. However, free VPNs actually make you less safe, and the VPNs promoted by companies like Facebook are not to be trusted. Instead, you should use a reliable and trustworthy independent VPN such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: REVIEW

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both great VPNs that meet all of our key requirements like an excellent level of security, a large server network, and software that can be installed on a range of devices. Either provider will keep you safe by hiding your IP address while you browse and preventing anyone from tracking or recording your internet activity. Both services have no bandwidth limits, so you can use them as much as you want without worrying about hitting a traffic cap. And both can be used to secure all types of traffic, like VoIP calls using Skype or IM communications as well as internet browsing.

There are some factors which set these two services apart, however. Below we’ll compare the two services in terms of these important features.

Connection Speeds

When using a VPN, you want a provider that has fast connection speeds so that your browsing and downloading won’t be slowed down by your VPN. If you like to stream a lot of video, especially if you often stream in high definition, then you’ll want fast connection speeds to prevent lag or buffering issues.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer connections that are fast enough to handle everyday use including streaming high definition videos. But ExpressVPN tends to pip NordVPN in terms of offering the fastest connections for when you’re downloading large files. They even include a built-in speed test to help you dial in an optimal connection.

Size And Breadth Of Server Network

It’s helpful to have a VPN which offers you access to a large number of servers, so you can easily find a server that is fast enough and reliable enough to meet your needs. In addition, you want to have access to servers in as many countries as possible, so that you can connect to many different locations in order to get around region locks.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have extremely large server networks with many servers in many different countries, so both providers score well in this category. ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 different countries, including key locations like the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Unusually, ExpressVPN also has servers in African countries including Kenya, South Africa, and Algeria, which is helpful for maximum flexibility.

NordVPN, however, has an even larger server network, with an incredible 5,100+ servers located in 59 different countries. These include servers in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and India, with all the most frequently required server locations included. A full list of servers, including information about special servers for P2P use or obfuscated servers is available if interested.

Security Including Double Encryption

The security offered by both services is excellent. They both use strong 256-bit encryption which is military grade and which is highly difficult to crack. In addition, both companies have a no logging policy, which means that they will never record information about your internet use. This way, even if the company were forced to hand over their data by a government order, there would be no information about your internet use to be seen.

There is an additional feature offered by NordVPN that ExpressVPN doesn’t have though, and that is double encryption. This means that your data is encrypted before it leaves your device and is then sent to a first server. At this server, the data is encrypted again and sent on to a second server. At the second server, the data is decrypted and sent on to its original destination. These two layers of encryption are essentially impossible to crack, making NordVPN the best choice for someone who wants the absolute highest level of security.

Use On Restricted Sites

Another reason to use a VPN is to access content from around the world. Lots of streaming sites have regional restrictions, like how the BBC iPlayer is only available to watch within the UK, or the Hulu streaming service is only available within the US. But with a VPN you can easily access content from anywhere in the world. You just connect to a server in the country you want to appear to be browsing from (e.g. the UK to use iPlayer) then you’ll be able to watch the content there as if you were in the region of restriction.

However, not all VPNs work on all sites. Some sites, like Netflix, have sophisticated software to detect and block VPN connections. The good news is that both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the best services for use on restricted sites, and both work on Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer, and other sites with VPN detection.

NordVPN just about wins this comparison though, thanks to its SmartPlay feature which combines some of the features of Smart DNS with a VPN service so it can be used on practically any streaming service you can think of.

Quality of VPN Software

A factor that can make a big difference in how pleasant it is to use a VPN on a day to day basis is the quality of the software. So we’ll compare the user experience of the ExpressVPN and NordVPN software for desktop.

The ExpressVPN software aims for simplicity, with a home screen that has just one large button to connect the VPN, and two smaller buttons to choose the location which you connect to, either by selecting a location from a list or using the smart location feature. If you open up the menu by clicking in the top left, you’ll find extra options like a speed test to help you find the fastest server, or a DNS leak test and IP address checker so that you can check whether your connection is working and is secure.

In addition, there is also an option to view diagnostic information to help you fix any problems that you might come across. Overall the software has all the basics that you need but not a lot in the way of frills.

The NordVPN software looks similarly simple when you first open it, with a visual map of the world that you can use to connect to a server in the country of your choice. However, there are many more features available in this software. On this main screen, in addition to the map you’ll also find options to search for a location and information about your currently visible IP address.

The countries tab lets you sort and search servers, plus browse a list of speciality servers for particular purposes – like anti DDoS, dedicated IP, double VPN, onion over VPN, and P2P. The settings tab has a set of basic and advanced settings including a cyber security feature to eliminate ads and protect you from malware, an internet kill switch, options for customising your notifications, the protocol to use, custom DNS, and diagnostic information.

The software is impressive as it is both easy to use for a beginner, while still having all the detailed features that an advanced user would want.

Platforms Supported & Browser Extensions

One last factor that you should consider before choosing a VPN is what platforms are supported. As long as software support is available for your devices, you can use your one VPN account to protect your computers, phone, tablet, and even smart TV, games console, or other devices. That’s why it’s useful to choose a VPN provider who offers software for all of the platforms that you use. In addition, some VPN providers offer browser extensions which are a convenient way to quickly connect to a server while you are browsing the internet.

NordVPN has software available for lots of different devices, like the most common operating systems of Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, and Linux. It also has instructions available for how to install the software onto many other devices including Windows Phone, Raspberry Pi, and a wide range of routers. You can also use the browser extensions which are available for Chrome and Firefox.

ExpressVPN also offers support for a big range of devices, including the essentials of Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux. In addition it has support for games consoles like the Playstation and Xbox, and other devices like AppleTV and Amazon FireTV. It also has browser extensions available for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

Which VPN Is Best?

Whether NordVPN or ExpressVPN is best depends upon your particular requirements.

  • If you want a simple to use VPN which works with no fuss and can be installed on a massive range of devices, Netflix access, solid performance and some of the fastest servers in the VPN industry — then you should use ExpressVPN.
  • But if you are an advanced user who wants special features like double encryption, the ability to access region locked content even when VPN blocking is in place, and advanced software which lets you tweak your connection according to your needs — then you should use NordVPN.

Our Special Offers

If you’ve made a decision and you’re ready to try out either of the VPN providers that we’ve discussed above, then we have special offers available to our readers to let you save money on a subscription for either service:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPNs thanks to its flexibility and easy of use. It has super fast connection speeds that won’t slow you down, so you can browse and download in peace over a connection so fast you won’t even notice that it’s there.

The VPN uses strong 256-bit encryption and has a no logging policy to keep your data safe and to protect your privacy, and the massive server network consists of over 3,000 servers in 160 locations in 94 different countries so you can get around region locks of all kinds.

The software is available for operating systems including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, in addition to games consoles and smart TVs, and is very easy to use. You can also use the VPN through browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off – link below)
  • Super fast servers
  • Very simple and easy to use
  • Strict no-logs policy for personal information
  • 24/7 Live Chat.
Cons

  • Expensive month-to-month plan.
BEST OVERALL VPN: ExpressVPN is a premium VPN that holds nothing back from its users, including fast speeds and powerful encryption. Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is a top choice for users who want both the very best in security and advanced features like custom DNS and specialised servers. In terms of security, there is the 256-bit encryption and no logging policy that you would expect, plus the special double encryption which you can use for the absolute highest level of security.

The connection speeds offered are fast enough for streaming high definition video, and the massive server network has more than 5,100 servers in 59 countries so you’ll never struggle to find a server.

There are specialised servers available for anti DDoS, dedicated IP, double VPN, onion over VPN, and P2P. The software can be installed on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows Phone, plus you can use the VPN through browser extensions for the Chrome and Firefox web browsers.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off – link below)
  • Extensive server park of over 5,400 different servers
  • Allows up to 6 devices to be connected at once
  • Extra-secure Double VPN for data encryption
  • Great customer service via chat.
Cons

  • Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
BEST BUDGET VPN: Get a huge 70% discount for signing up for the 3-year plan, taking the monthly price down to only $3.49. Also note that all plans come with a “no hassle” 30-day money-back guarantee.

Conclusion

We often recommend both ExpressVPN and NordVPN here at Addictive Tips, thanks to the high level of security, fast connections, and large server networks offered by both providers. However, if you’re trying to decide which of these two VPNs you should use, this guide can help you see some of the key differences between the two. ExpressVPN has the advantages that it is extremely easy to use and can be installed on a big range of devices, and it has extremely fast connections. NordVPN offers special security features plus other advanced features and the best performance we’ve seen for getting around VPN blocks. Overall, we’d recommend ExpressVPN for beginners who want a simple VPN with no complications, and NordVPN for advanced users who want all of the special features on offer.

Have you tried out either of these two VPNs? How was your experience with them? Let us know in the comments below.

The post NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Comparison Review 2020 appeared first on AddictiveTips.

Alternative Encryption Methods to Save Net Neutrality

For many people, encryption is just a software feature that you turn “on” to make the Internet safe. But, VPNs with alternative encryption methods enable you to do so much more. In an age where net neutrality is no longer guaranteed, use our recommended VPNs to restore and maintain access to the free and open Internet.

With net neutrality officially repealed in the United States, the future of a free and open internet hangs on the balance. While there are still windows for the motion to be overturned, no one’s waiting around for the worst to happen.

Savvy internet users are loading up with knowledge about encryption methods and other ways to preserve their own online freedoms. VPNs are a great place to start, but they’ll likely be the first thing ISPs start blocking. Good thing there are several other popular, workable, and almost unblockable alternative encryption methods you can use to save net neutrality on your own devices.

Encryption – How it Works, Why it Works

Encryption is simple in concept but complex in execution. Fortunately you don’t need a double PhD in higher mathematics and computer science to put it to use. At its core, encryption is all about complex cryptography patterns forming mathematical puzzles that are practically unsolvable without the right set of keys. No human could ever break encrypted data, and it would take an advanced computer millions of years to crack it by force. For this reason, encryption is perfect for keeping information hidden from outside eyes. It’s that safety that makes it perfect for saving net neutrality, as well.

The Encryption Process

Encryption is a lot like sending a postcard through the mail. It starts at your home, on your PC, smartphone, or other internet connected device. You want to send a packet of data out to the world wide web. Let’s say it’s a simple request to load a website or fetch your e-mail. The normal method is to send the packet through your router stamped with your devices local IP address, a rough equivalent to your return mailing address. Your ISP gets this packet, sees the destination written on the outside, then sends it out to the internet. Once the data is retrieved the ISP looks at the IP address and returns the information to your device, all in fractions of a second.

The downside to this process is that anyone can read what’s on your postcard, as there’s nothing there to hide the information written on the outside. This is where encryption comes into play. With the right software enabled each packet of data you send will get wrapped in an envelope of cryptographic code before leaving your device. The postcard gets an envelope, but not just any envelope, one that’s impossible for anyone to open without the right key code. Each encryption method handles the specifics differently, but the end result is the same: your secret postcard is sent along without anyone except the intended recipient knowing what’s inside.

Encryption Creates Privacy

Encryption is great for everyday use and should be called upon whenever possible. Where net neutrality is concerned, though, it’s practically a prerequisite. Some of the biggest concerns with the loss of net neutrality is ISPs being able to throttle your connection or even block websites based on which subscription packages you purchase. They do this by examining the packets of data sent from your device. Did you request something from Facebook? Well, you didn’t pay for the social media premium plan, so you can’t access that.

What if the ISP can’t read your packets, though? What happens then? In all likelihood they simply pass the data on to its destination. If your Facebook request is encrypted, your ISP doesn’t know what you’re attempting to access and can’t prevent you from reaching it. There are ways for ISPs to work around this, of course, but then again, there are also workarounds for those workarounds. The point is encryption provides an excellent foundation for private access to the internet, even in the complete absence of net neutrality.

Method 1 – SSH Tunneling

SSH tunneling, or secure shell tunneling, is an extremely common method of encryption that’s been around since the mid-90s. It’s estimated about 2 million people use it on a daily basis, a number that rises drastically if you include automated scripts and similar file transfers. SSH tunneling is generally used to send small files to a web host via terminal commands. It can be repurposed to do more than that, though, which is why it’s a viable method for helping to save net neutrality.

Benefits of SSH Tunnels

The biggest benefit of SSH tunneling is that most ISPs would never block these types of transfers. SSH is used for a lot of legitimate online work, especially by businesses. Blocking it would shut down a reliable and secure form of communication. We can take advantage of this fact by using SSH tunnels for more than just server-client transfers. By sending data with SSH encryption, you can slide right by anti-neutrality blockades and censorship firewalls to access a free and open web.

RELATED READING: How to Hide OpenVPN Traffic with an SSH Tunnel

Drawbacks to SSH Tunneling

SSH is an old protocol built when the internet was much smaller than it is today. Transfer speeds isn’t its strong point, which means downloading gigabyte movies or streaming HD videos doesn’t really work. This cuts out a vast swath of online content and prevents SSH tunneling from becoming a true competitor to things like VPNs.

How to Create an SSH Tunnel

If you know what you’re doing, creating an SSH tunnel is pretty easy. There are a few setup steps you’ll need to follow, though, along with some prerequisites you have to start with. We’ve written a complete guide to SSH tunneling, so go check it out and enjoy your new encrypted connection.

Method 2 – Shadowsocks (SOCKS5 Proxy)

The Socket Secure protocol is a method of exchanging packets between a server and client through the use of a proxy server. When using the newest SOCKS5 version of the protocol, data is also encrypted and authenticated, ensuring only the intended parties can access the proxy server. SOCKS is a deep level protocol that’s been in use since the early ’90s. In modern computing it’s mostly used as a circumvention tool to bypass internet filtering, especially in areas like China where censorship is a major concern.

Benefits of Using SOCKS5

The SOCKS protocol pretty much only exists as a tool for hacking and restoring internet freedom. It’s fast for an encryption method, offers a wide range of configuration options, and works on most devices, including smartphones and tablets. It’s also one of the few alternative encryption methods suitable for torrenting, as the way the protocol passes traffic through ports doesn’t interfere with swarm downloading.

Drawbacks of SOCKS5

The only real drawback to using SOCKS5 comes from the method of employment. If your VPN supports it natively, you can switch it on and not notice anything different, only better privacy and less online censorship. If you use shadowsocks it’s practically the same situation. Shadowsocks does require a dedicated server to work, however, which is complicated to set up on your own.

Using SOCKS5

Unless you have a VPN that supports SOCKS5, most people will turn to shadowsocks when it comes time to use an encrypted proxy. This piece of software was specifically designed to put the old protocol to use as a tool to restore online freedoms and defeat censorship. The tagline “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself” hints at just how effective shadowsocks can be. Your data will be so secure, you won’t even be able to hack yourself.

You’ll need two things to use shadowsocks: a server and a client. Server software is deployed remotely and serves as the actual proxy that passes data. Client software runs on your active device and handles the encryption and traffic routing. All of the instructions you need are on the shadowsocks website. Follow the steps below and you’ll have an incredible method of online privacy ready in minutes.

  1. Visit the shadowsocks website.
  2. Go to Download > Servers and follow the instructions to install on a remote host.
  3. Back on the shadowsocks site, go to Download > Clients to get the appropriate software for your device.
  4. Enter your server details into the client software.
  5. Connect to shadowsocks and browse the web with full privacy.

Method 3 – SSL/TLS Tunnel

Have you ever seen that little green padlock icon in your browser window, the one that shows up when you visit a webmail or online shopping site? That’s SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption at work. SSL is the predecessor to Transport Layer Security (TLS), both of which are encryption methods used to secure data on the web. The technology can easily be repurposed to do more than lock down a single connection to a single site. By creating an SSL tunnel you can encrypt all of your online traffic to break through censorship walls and bypass anti-neutrality filters with ease.

Benefits of SSL/TLS Tunnels

There are two huge benefits of using TLS tunnels to connect to the internet: the widespread nature of the protocol, and the low odds an ISP will block the traffic. As stated above, SSL/TLS is used by a large portion of the web today to send and receive ordinary traffic. When you buy something online, chances are the site is secured with SSL. This means ISPs are highly, highly unlikely to block this type of traffic, as doing so would shut down millions of legitimate connections. If you use an SSL tunnel to break through censorship barriers, chances are you’ll get through without any problems.

Drawbacks of SSL Tunnels

Speed is always an issue when using an alternative encryption method, as nothing really matches the balance provided by a good OpenVPN connection. SSL tunnels can suffer a bit from the same slowdown effect, especially if you’re downloading large files or streaming HD videos. SSL tunnels are also not supported by most VPNs, which means you’ll need to set up and configure your own using a separate piece of software, a method that can be complicated and time consuming.

How to Use SSL Tunnels

To use an SSL tunnel you’ll need to download the stunnel software, which, honestly, is best left to experienced hands. The site has tutorials and how-to guides for the entire process, but you’ll need extreme familiarity with terminal commands to get things running the right way.

Method 4 – Tor and Onion Networks

The Tor networks runs using onion routing, a process of wrapping data in multiple layers of encryption and passing it through an anonymizing network to remove traces of the host’s identity. Tor is best put to use with the Tor Browser, which runs in place of your current Firefox, Chrome, or Safari installation. With Tor you can often break through censorship efforts and access the free internet with ease. Best of all, you barely have to do anything out of the ordinary to utilize this method, just grab a browser and start surfing.

Benefits of Tor

Tor’s simplicity is probably its number one feature. The protocol can be used by a wide variety of software, especially the Tor Browser. All you have to do is download the file and run Tor, then you’re set. It’s also an incredible anonymizer, making it a great choice for people in restrictive areas where accessing the open ‘net could be dangerous to their livelihood.

Drawbacks of Tor

Speed is a huge issue with Tor. Utilizing the network means no videos, no torrents, and no streaming of any kind. By default a lot of modern web technologies are disabled in the browser, including any kind of applets or Java. Tor is best used for simple website browsing and e-mail communications. Using the browser itself also means your cloud storage or other outside connections won’t be encrypted or anonymized. The Tor network is also frequently blocked in the most restrictive of countries, making it useless in places like China or Syria.

How to Use Tor

This is the easy part. To use Tor, simply download the browser and run it like you would any browser software. It’s open source and works on a variety of platforms, including Android and iOS. You’ll notice an immediate drop in speed, but you can surf safe knowing your identity and location are safe. For more information about using the browser, check out our feature How to Use Tor: A Guide to Getting Started.

Method 5 – Obfsproxy

Obfsproxy, short for “obfuscation proxy”, is a tool that circumvents censorship by transforming encrypted traffic to make it unrecognizable to ISPs or other third parties. This is incredibly useful in scenarios where outgoing packets are scanned for signs of Tor encryption or VPN use and blocked as a result. Obfsproxy makes it nearly impossible to tell Tor/VPN packets from other packets, giving users another tool for bypassing censorship firewalls and gaining access to the open internet.

Benefits of Obfsproxy

Obfsproxy is best used in areas where net neutrality is long gone and ISPs are blocking things like Tor and VPNs. These extreme case scenarios are already in play in places like China, Ethiopia, Iran, and Syria, and they could spread as net neutrality dies a slow death. It doesn’t really slow down your traffic, but it can affect things like torrents or HD movie streams by nature of how those transfers are handled.

Drawbacks of Obfsproxy

Obfsproxy is slow and difficult to set up on your own. If your current VPN doesn’t support it by default, you’ll need to build your own VPN server and configure everything yourself. That can take time, it requires several pieces of external software, and it’s also not free.

How to Use Obfsproxy

If you need to use obfsproxy, your best bet is to sign up with a VPN service that offers it by default. Some of the more popular options include Mullvad and IVPN. NordVPN also offers the setting by default, along with a lot of other privacy and security options you’ll find useful. With one of these installed, you’ll simply run the software and select obfsproxy from the configuration menu.

Method 6 – VPN Encryption

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are incredible tools for saving net neutrality. They’re fast, easy to use, and they’re surprisingly effective, as well. Most VPNs use the OpenVPN protocol for encryption. This method is seen as a “nearly perfect” form of encryption that keeps data secure without being a heavy drain on resources. VPNs can use this and other protocols to mask your identity and provide a safe, open connection to the internet. Choose the right one and you’ll be set, no matter how strict the regulations are in your area!

Best VPNs for Saving Net Neutrality

The alternative encryption methods above do wonders for restoring free and open internet access. They’re best used by experienced hands, however, which can be a strong barrier to entry. VPNs by comparison are fast, easy to use, and even easier to install. Some of them even go the extra mile to provide access to some of the encryption protocols above, making them better choices for staying safe online. Below are two recommended VPNs that help make sure your online activities are as private as possible.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around. They accomplish this through a network of over 3,000 servers distributed in 94 countries around the world, each one finely tuned for low latency and speedy video streams by default. Connections are always secured with 256-bit AES to lock your data down tight, and you’ll also be protected by a zero-logging policy on traffic, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. Best of all, ExpressVPN is incredibly easy to use. Simply sign up, run the software, then connect to the fastest server with a single click.

ExpressVPN allows for SSL tunnels on its main apps, which provides similar obfuscation as the other methods listed above. It’s a great extra that helps defeat censorship blocks and restore an open internet connection no matter where you live.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

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  • Reliable and fast connections
  • Govt-level AES-256 encryption
  • Strict no-logging policy
  • 24/7 Customer Service.
Cons

  • Priced slightly higher.
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2. NordVPN

NordVPN is a great VPN provider no matter how you look at it. The service runs a huge network of over 5,100 servers in 60 different countries, offering fast connections to six continents and cities around the world. Some of these servers are also tasked to unique jobs, as well, including DDoS protection, double encryption, and the truly rare onion over VPN feature. Alongside these extras, all NordVPN users get to take advantage of a zero-logging policy that covers everything from traffic to bandwidth, IP addresses, and time stamps, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and 256-bit AES encryption on all connections on every device.

In addition to its double VPN and onion over VPN features mentioned above, NordVPN also offers both obfsproxy and SSL tunnels through its apps. All you have to do is dive into the configuration settings and switch them on, then you’re surfing the web with a free, open, and private connection.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Optimized servers for unblocking Netflix
  • Over 5,400 servers in 61 countries
  • Tor over VPN, double VPN
  • “Double” data protection
  • Live Chat Support.
Cons

  • Very little
  • Sometimes slow in procesing refunds (but always do).
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Conclusion

Saving net neutrality for the world is a long and involved process that requires constant fighting with local governments and powerful corporations. While this battle rages on, running a VPN or using alternative encryption methods can ensure your connection is safe and anonymous for full access to the open web. Know of any other services that help restore net neutrality? Let us know in the comments below!

Read Alternative Encryption Methods to Save Net Neutrality by John Anthony on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Restoring Net Neutrality with the Decentralized Web

There’s a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the FCC’s effective repeal of legally codified net neutrality. But with adversity comes innovation, and the decentralized web is a concept for Internet infrastructure that can help people retain their digital rights. Today, we’ll explain it in full, plus present the top 4 VPNs for restoring net neutrality.

With net neutrality under threat in the U.S. and around the world, more and more people are looking at alternatives that keep the internet open and free. Efforts like decentralization and the decentralized web aim to push content into a digital world that isn’t controlled by any centralized authority. ISPs or government agencies can’t dictate what information you see or how fast it’s delivered on the decentralized web, allowing everyone to use an uncensored, completely neutral internet no matter where they live.

Today, we’ll take a look into what the decentralized web is, how it works, and the ways it can help preserve net neutrality.

Problems with Centralization

Current web communications protocols function in almost the same way as the earliest version of the internet. Data is stored on servers, users request pieces of that data, then it’s displayed in a browser–pretty straightforward. There are exceptions to this set-up though, most notably things like torrents, cloud technology, and blockchains, but the vast majority of web traffic is delivered using this one-to-one relationship. Want to watch a Netflix movie? Stream it from the servers they run, that’s your only option.

Big Business Interests

The early internet was actually decentralized. It used a mesh network of nodes that pinged information back and forth at incredibly fast speeds, no central authority necessary. As the internet took hold and businesses started to get involved, however, interest groups began biting little corners out of this distributed net. Those corner bites grew larger until suddenly most of the network was owned and operated by powerful businesses.

This is where the problem of centralization starts to become apparent. Google is probably the largest internet company in the world. If Google decides all searches for “rhubarb pie” should be blocked, for example, there’s nothing preventing them from doing so. Suddenly no one can find rhubarb pie recipes unless they go to a search engine that doesn’t rely on Google’s servers. The same holds true for any big web company. You can’t post on Facebook or Twitter without using servers they own, they control, and they manage.

The natural extension to this centralized model is pretty scary to think about. As web companies get bigger and gain more leverage, they can control larger chunks of the internet, affecting millions of new users. Even if they claim to be “for the people”, the only interest that drives them is maintaining their power and revenue streams. We’ve seen examples of this with deals made on the corporate level pushing certain services over others because money changed hands.

ISPs as Gatekeepers

Centralization gets really tricky when you look at internet access as a whole. What’s the first thing you do when you move to a new apartment? You call an internet service provider (ISP) and set up an account. ISPs control all web access because they operate the lines that transmit the data. You connect through their servers every time you access the web, no matter what site you visit or which device you’re using.

This incredible amount of power has so far been kept in check by government-level regulations. Until recently, ISPs in the U.S. have been required to deliver service as a public utility. They couldn’t shape traffic or choose which sites you visit because net neutrality laws were in place preventing them from doing so. Drop those laws, however, and the centralized ISP gatekeepers can do just about anything they want.

Decentralization and Net Neutrality

The closer net neutrality is to being destroyed, the more talk you’ll hear about decentralization. It’s not exactly a magic bullet for all neutrality-related issues, but it’s a great start for providing free and open access to information that isn’t shaped by one single entity. With a decentralized web, good services rise to the top because they’re good, not because your ISP or Google says so.

Concept of Decentralization

When we talk about decentralization we mean just that: creating something that doesn’t rely on a single center. Decentralization isn’t limited to technology, after all. Nearly any complex activity that requires individuals or individual pieces to operate can be decentralized. A decentralized government would move power away from senates or presidents, giving control over wider and smaller groups, for example. A decentralized human body could theoretically even survive without many of its organs, as no single function would be limited to a particular area.

The advantages of decentralization largely depend on the system that’s being decentralized. The main benefit common to all systems is a shifting of functions away from one location. Lose one part of the system and the rest survives, no matter what part you lost. Did a bunch of servers go down? Don’t worry, they were just part of the decentralized group, the network still survives. And if you’re a certain fictional dark wizard who wants to gain immortality, decentralizing your horcruxes is a really, really good idea.

Decentralized Infrastructure

The decentralized web isn’t some foreign thing separate from the internet you know and love. In fact, many parts of the web right now run on decentralized systems. To the end user everything on a decentralized web looks and acts the same. Type a URL into your browser, get a website, that whole business. Instead of having your traffic shaped or blocked by single companies, though, you get completely open access to the internet.

If net neutrality is lost on the common internet, a big shift towards using decentralized infrastructure may occur. In practice this means using technologies like torrent and blockchain to host content outside of company-owned servers. You’ll probably have to change the way you access the internet, but once you’re connected you won’t notice a difference.

Decentralized Web Products

Decentralization isn’t an all-or-nothing affair. The concept has only been growing in popularity over the years. Right now, thousands of apps and services are built on a decentralized platform, cutting out the middle man in favor of distributed hosting.

  • Diaspora – A federated social network that operates as a decentralized alternative to Facebook.
  • Mastodon – Alternative to Twitter that doesn’t rely on a single site or set of servers to run.
  • Cryptocurrencies – You’ve heard of bitcoin and litecoin? These digital currencies are completely decentralized.
  • Ethereum – The crypto-powered blockchain network hosts a huge variety of decentralized apps and services, everything from music platforms to crowdfunding.
  • BitTorrent – Decentralized, distributed file hosting that doesn’t need a single host to function.

Plans for Decentralized Web Access

Let’s say net neutrality is lost around the world. A decentralized web is in place, however, providing access to all the content you could ever need. There’s still one big issue facing the common user: how do you get online? If ISPs control access to the internet itself, how can you sidestep them? Don’t worry, the good people of the Earth have thought of that one, too!

Meshnet Plan

Data passing through wired or wireless connections is broken into packets, each one tagged with your device’s unique IP address. ISPs pass these packets to their destination and return the data to your home network. This happens through the use of routers, just like the one sitting in your living room. Routers can communicate with each other just like they communicate with ISPs.

RELATED READING: How to Set up a VPN Router

The meshnet plan (wireless mesh network) aims to provide internet access to massive groups of people by pinging data across distributed sets of routers. The basic idea would have individuals running specialized software on their routers that helps packets “hop” from one local node to the next. Your request is passed along until it reaches the internet, then returns just like normal. It’s slower than a standard ISP connection and it requires enough local participants, but it works.

The interesting thing about meshnets is they build to a certain threshold, then suddenly explode. Imagine thousands of small groups each building their own little meshnet, such as neighbors in apartment buildings or houses along the same street. This has limited or even no functionality on its own, but if enough people do it, suddenly the network comes alive. You go from small and separate meshnets to one big meshnet that provides worldwide internet access to everyone, and all they had to do was a little tinkering with their home hardware.

Existing Mesh Networks

Meshnets aren’t a thing of the future. Several communities have already started building their own functioning mesh networks, bypassing ISPs and providing open internet access to everyone. The biggest example of this is NYC Mesh, which has active nodes in downtown Manhattan from Chinatown to the East Village.

Blockchain Network

One of the more technical but promising methods of sidestepping ISP access involves creating a blockchain network incentivized by cryptocurrencies. A blockchain network would work much like a mesh network only with a wider reach. Any web-enabled device could run software in the background that turns them into a network node. Each node passes requests just like routers in the mesh network example, providing slow but functional internet access to anyone on the block network.

Incentivizing this type of plan could be the key to high rates of adoption. If a mesh-based cryptocurrency were tied to the node software, users could get paid each time they handle a request. This would encourage more people to get involved, or even set up dedicated blockchain supernodes to provide more reliable access, all while getting paid!

Saving Net Neutrality

Meshnets and the decentralized web have their own benefits and drawbacks, even without net neutrality in the picture. Saving the open internet is in everyone’s best interest, however, regardless of their location. People are protesting and petitioning and taking action in a number of ways. Add your voice to the group to make sure our ‘net stays free!

Support Net Neutrality Organizations

ISPs and big internet companies are constantly trying to control more and more of the web, and they’re not afraid to cut us out of the picture in the name of profit. Fortunately there are groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that work year-round to protect digital freedoms and online privacy. The EFF has been one of the big proponents of net neutrality, as well, providing outreach programs and legal action to keep the internet free.

Get Political

Net neutrality decisions are largely spearheaded by politicians. Getting the right people in office and sharing your concerns with current representatives are both key to keeping net neutrality safe now and in the future. BattleForTheNet has tools, contact information, and starter scripts to help you find local congressmen and stay informed about elections in your area. Don’t hesitate to call or write your representatives, that’s what they’re there for!

Share the Information

Awareness is a huge part of saving net neutrality. The more people who know about the dangers of losing it, the better. Talking about the issues with friends and family and sharing content on social media are great places to start. If you run a website, even if it’s just a small blog, Break the Internet has copy/paste images and scripts you can use to spread the word to visitors, as well.

Protect Your Freedoms with a VPN

What net neutrality boils down to is the freedom to browse the internet without third parties stepping in the middle. ISPs want to charge more for site access and faster speeds, and big companies want you to use their product over their smaller competitors. You just want to be left alone to enjoy the unrestricted world wide web, and that’s why using a VPN is a good idea.

Virtual private networks help mask your identity by encrypting data before it leaves your device. ISPs can’t read the packets, either, making it nearly impossible to determine what websites you’re visiting. This is a great way to regain some online freedoms, even in the wake of net neutrality repeal. Below are a few recommended VPN providers that will get you started.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a superb VPN that provides great speeds and smart software for a wide variety of devices. It starts with a network of 3,000 servers in 94 countries around the globe, each one tuned for fast downloads no matter your location. You’ll also get to take advantage of 256-bit AES encryption, a great zero-logging policy, and both kill switch and DNS leak protection features for added privacy. If easy security and one-click connectivity on PC or mobile devices is high on your list, ExpressVPN is definitely for you!

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocking Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime
  • Fastest servers we have tested
  • Secure encryption & VPN protocols
  • No personal information logs kept
  • Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
Cons

  • Power-users configuration options.
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2. NordVPN

NordVPN does some wonderful things for the VPN community, all thanks to its enormous network of 5,100 servers in around 60 different countries. Need extra features like double encryption or DDoS protection? No problem, there’s a server for that! How about onion over VPN or a dedicated IP address? NordVPN has you covered. Along with these incredible added features, you’ll always stay safe with standard 256-bit AES encryption, kill switch and DNS leak protection, and one of the most thorough zero-logging policies in the industry.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocks American Netflix
  • Over 5,400 servers in 61 countries
  • 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy
  • Strict zero logs policy on both traffic and metadata
  • Money back guarantee policy.
Cons

  • Very little
  • Can’t specify City or Province in App.
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3. IPVanish

The balance of speed and security is tough get just right, especially if you’re a big VPN provider. As a general rule, the stronger your encryption, the slower your connections. IPVanish breaks that trend with impressive speeds and privacy features that keep you safe and anonymous each time you go online. IPVanish operates a network of over 1,300 servers, all of which are secured with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a zero-logging policy on traffic. Simply sign up and stay hidden online, it’s that easy!

Read our full IPVanish review.

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4. VyprVPN

VyprVPN provides privacy like no other VPN, all thanks to a little feature called Chameleon. This exclusive protocol wraps metadata of each data packet in an extra layer of encryption, defeating deep packet inspection to help bypass even the toughest censorship blocks. This is alongside the company’s standard 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, kill switch feature, and a zero-logging policy that covers traffic and DNS requests. What’s more, VyprVPN maintains a modest but entirely self-owned network spanning 700+ nodes in 70 countries worldwide. No matter how bad things look, VyprVPN can keep you safe.

Read our full VyprVPN review.

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Conclusion

The decentralized web can help restore the open internet to users around the world. When combined with efforts like the meshnet plan, it can even serve as an alternative to ISP web connections. Even if net neutrality is preserved, both offer benefits over the increasingly centralized nature of the modern internet. If you know of any other decentralized projects we should know about, mention them in the comments below!

Read Restoring Net Neutrality with the Decentralized Web by John Anthony on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How Could the FCC Repeal of Article II Affect Me?

What Internet freedom advocates have long feared has come to pass: The FCC has repealed Title II. If you’re not sure what this means for you, read this article. Today, we’ll present the possible implications of the action, plus go over how to protect your Internet rights with a VPN.

Caricature of Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman. Author: Donkey Hotey (Flickr: CC Usage)

The internet has buzzed with activity in 2017, all thanks to a little thing called Title II. The previously obscure article was used to preserve net neutrality in the United States, making it a public utility that’s required by law to remain open and accessible to everyone. With players like the Trump Administration and Ajit Pai of the FCC, however, Title II has been repealed, putting a death sentence on net neutrality in the U.S. and potentially ushering in an age of internet fast lanes.

Net Neutrality and the FCC

In the United States, telecommunications carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The agency is nearly a century old and helps maintain laws and practices surrounding radio, television, satellite, cable, cell phone, and internet services along with their associated providers. The FCC exists to ensure fair access and fair competition, though recent net neutrality events make strong argument that’s no longer the case.

What Is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the idea that the internet isn’t owned or managed by any one entity. Everyone can access the entirety of the web without barriers, ensuring free and open communication. All data is treated equally under net neutrality, which simply means it doesn’t matter what website you visit or which video you stream, you always get the same service and the same speed.

Without net neutrality laws in place, businesses such as internet service providers (ISPs) are free to set up fast lanes or restrict online activities based on subscription status. If you want to check your e-mail, watch a video, or go on Facebook, for example, you might have to pay the ISP for a premium plan. Data can be monitored and throttled based on deals with other companies, too. If a business doesn’t pay the fast lane price, ISPs will slow their traffic down, causing them to lose customers.

History of Title II

Title II is shorthand for the second section of the Communications Act of 1934, a bill signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the same year. The act created the FCC with the specific purpose of regulating commerce across communication wires and radio signals to ensure all people in the U.S. had access to service at a reasonable price. The law outlines provisions for a variety of scenarios that have been added to over the years. We no longer use telegraphs to send letters back and forth, so the FCC has adapted to fit the modern age.

Title II of the original act was amended in 1996 to classify internet service providers as “common carriers”, a term that means they transport goods and services to the general public, not contract clients of their choosing. Common carriers are regulated by the FCC and required to deliver service to anyone without discrimination. If you sign up with an ISP, for example, you’re guaranteed the same service as anyone in the U.S., no matter how much you use it or what content you download.

In early 2015, the FCC ruled to classify broadband internet access as a telecommunications service, applying the Title II common carrier status to all ISPs. This signed into law internet access in the U.S. as a public utility like electricity or access to water, not an optional luxury item. Lawsuits filed against the FCC claimed the act was an overreach, but the change was upheld by a U.S. Court of Appeals vote in 2016.

Title II Repeal Process

The 2017 transition to the Trump facilitated the long-standing agenda of FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai. One of the first announcements Pai made was his intent to end the utility-style regulatory approach to the internet and establish it as an information service, not a public utility. This move will allow ISPs to regulate and bill internet access without strict oversight from the FCC, bringing an end to net neutrality in the U.S.

The Obama administration placed into effect regulations that protected net neutrality under the Title II/public utility laws. Those changes were rolled back by the FCC in May 2017, with a final vote to end net neutrality in December of the same year.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Pai claims repealing Title II will increase investment in infrastructure and boost innovation among broadband companies. On the flipside, however, this act could remove or restrict internet access to many Americans and stifle both creativity and competition among smaller businesses.

What Could Happen Now That Article II Is Repealed?

Title II is the key to net neutrality and the non-discrimination of data. With its repeal, net neutrality is effectively ended in the United States. This opens the door for all kinds of strict ISP-imposed regulations and money-grabbing schemes, practically none of which benefit end users, only the large companies that provide internet service. The web as you know it will be gone.

Say Hello to Internet Fast Lanes

One of the most frightening aspects of Title II’s repeal is allowing ISPs to directly control how fast you can access parts of the web. Paid prioritization plans affect both businesses and consumers by setting up two different “types” of internet access: fast and slow. If a company doesn’t pay for the fast lane, the ISP artificially slows down access to their site. For companies that deliver a large amount of speed-sensitive data like Netflix and Hulu, paying for fast lanes is essential to stay in business. After all, nobody will use a slow streaming service, no matter how good the content.

On the consumer side of things, fast lanes will likely come in the form of tiered data plans. Basic internet access would be artificially slowed to a crawl. Want to access websites at higher speeds? Pay for the upgrade. Want to access sites that have entered the fast lane? That’s another upgrade. ISPs can even remove popular destinations from basic internet services and sell them as new plans. Imagine not being able to access Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, YouTube, or Netflix unless you purchase separate upgrades for each service. Now that Title II has been repealed, very little stands in the way of measures like this appearing on ISP sign-up pages.

Small Businesses Will Struggle

Related to the fast lanes concept above, small businesses and startups will face new, often impossible hurdles to reaching an online audience. Research has shown slow sites face as much as an 11% reduction in traffic and a 15-17% loss in customer engagement. No one will wait for a site in the slow lane to load in their browser, they’ll simply click away to a bigger, richer site that can afford to broadcast in the fast lane. More and more businesses will start shifting their focus from innovative products to models that cope with ISP restrictions. This can kill creativity and lead to an internet that exists to fuel the telecommunications industry, not enrich the users’ lives.

The Door Opens for Censorship

Looking to the future, Title II’s demise gives a lot of power to ISPs. Fast lanes and paid package upgrades are only the beginning. One of the biggest fears is that censorship will become commonplace in the U.S. Even if some objectionable site pays for fast access, what if they compete with an ISP’s partner company? All it takes is a few lines of code and they disappear from everyone’s internet, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

For example of extreme Internet censorship, check out our article on North Korea.

Title II’s Affect on the World

The Title II repeal directly affects citizens of the U.S., but the rest of the world may notice changes, too. As the laws are changed in favor of ISPs, other governments may use this as a template for their own anti-net neutrality regulations. A large portion of the businesses with a strong presence on the internet are also based in the U.S., including Google, Netflix, Hulu, Twitter, and Facebook. Losing net neutrality may affect how they operate, and if you’re a foreign company trying to compete with them, you’ll have an extremely difficult time paying ISP fees to gain a foothold with U.S. customers.

Fight for Net Neutrality

The net neutrality fight has gone on in several countries at various times over the last decade. Most places won the struggle, including in the U.S. the last time net neutrality was under threat. Though Title II is dead in the water, preserving a free and open internet is still a worthwhile cause. It will require a little effort from a lot of people, however. Protests, site shutdowns, petitions, and letter writing campaigns have all helped our voices get heard.

Contact Congress

Most of the decisions surrounding the Title II repeal have come from congress members across the United States. These people are elected to represent the people, not their own interests or the interests of corporations. To that end, each congressman is available for correspondence through e-mail, phone, snail mail letters, and often social media.

BattleForTheNet is the central hub of fighting the Title II repeal and preserving net neutrality. Here you’ll find all the tools you need to locate your representative and get in touch to share your opinion. Though the recent FCC ruling is discouraging, congress can still vote to preserve net neutrality, so keep putting pressure on your representatives!

Vote with Intent

The U.S. is a democracy with officials elected by the people. Voting is an important part of this process, as it gives everyone a voice in how things are managed. Voting may not save net neutrality this time around, but ensuring well-informed, pro-net neutrality representatives populate government offices is the best way to keep it alive well into the future. Find out when the next elections are in your state, research the candidates, and cast your vote for the right person for the job.

Break the Internet

If Ajit Pai and the FCC are trying to break the internet, why don’t we do it for them? A movement supported by BattleForTheNet encourages people to share images and scripts on social media and their websites to raise awareness of the fight for net neutrality. Though the FCC has already passed their resolution to repeal Title II, congress can still intervene by way of the Congressional Review Act. If you want to help get the word out to beat the apathy that might otherwise spread like wildfire after such a high-profile loss for net neutrality, head to the Break the Internet website.

Support Net Neutrality Organizations

For every greedy ISP and corporate shill in the world, there’s an organization dedicated to undoing their damage. In the case of Title II and net neutrality, these include groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Save the Internet work to protect digital freedoms even when they aren’t under immediate threat. Supporting them with donations or outreach efforts is a great way to make a real difference.

Staying Private with a VPN

The Title II repeal and subsequent loss of net neutrality will have a dramatic affect on how the internet works, and not just in the United States, either. Some of the drawbacks to ISP-controlled access can be mitigated with the right tools, however, the most prominent of which are virtual private networks. VPNs help mask your identity by encrypting data before it leaves your device. Even if most throttling or censorship methods are in place, with encrypted data it’s impossible for an ISP to tell what you’re trying to access.

Choosing the right VPN can feel like an impossible task, especially if you’re new to the world of online privacy and cryptography. We’ve simplified the process by providing a few recommended services below. Each one is fast, easy to use, and incredibly reliable, allowing you to keep your identity safe and your data private no matter what.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN scores high on our list thanks to its ease of use and incredible speeds. Subscription plans come with apps for a wide variety of devices, including PC, iPhone, and Android. All of them are sleek and lightweight and feature one-click connections that are so simple you can switch them on in your sleep. ExpressVPN also provides incredibly fast downloads, 256-bit AES encryption, a great zero-logging policy, and over 3,000 servers around the globe.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocking Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime
  • 94 countries, 3,000+ servers
  • OpenVPN, IPSec & IKEv2 Encryption
  • Strict no-logging policy
  • Live chat support available.
Cons

  • Limited configuration options
  • Priced slightly higher.
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2. NordVPN

NordVPN is known for two things: a huge network of servers, and incredible download speeds. It’s hard to argue with over 5,100 servers in around 60 different countries, especially when all of them offer fast connections around the world! Backing this up is an amazing zero-logging policy along with 256-bit AES encryption, kill switch and DNS leak protection, and extra features like double encryption and DDoS protection. NordVPN is a great service to use when speed is crucial, but you’ll also be able to stay safe and anonymous, too.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocks American Netflix
  • Over 5,400 servers in 61 countries
  • 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy
  • Strict zero logs policy on both traffic and metadata
  • Money back guarantee policy.
Cons

  • Very little
  • Can’t specify City or Province in App.
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3. IPVanish

With any VPN, there’s a delicate balance between speed and privacy. Increasing one usually decreases the other, forcing users to choose which one they need for daily activities. IPVanish goes to great lengths to ensure you don’t have to make any such sacrifices. The service operates a network of over 1,300+ servers that deliver lightning-fast connections, all of which are secured with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a zero-logging policy. All you have to do is sign up and start surfing anonymously!

Read our full IPVanish review.

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4. VyprVPN

VyprVPN goes to great lengths to provide strong privacy features for users around the world. The most impressive feature is the company’s Chameleon protocol, an exclusive piece of technology that wraps metadata in an extra layer of encryption to defeat censorship blocks and geo-restricted content. Another great feature is VyprVPN’s small but entirely self-owned network of 700+ servers in 70 countries. Combine that with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a zero-logging policy that covers traffic and DNS requests and you’ve got the makings of a super private VPN.

Read our full VyprVPN review.

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Conclusion

The Title II repeal means the beginning of the end of net neutrality in the United States. It’s a dire situation that has brought people on the internet together to fight for what matters. Support the right organizations, let your voice be heard, then sound off in the comments below to let everyone know what they can do to help.

Read How Could the FCC Repeal of Article II Affect Me? by John Anthony on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter