FCC head Ajit Pai has managed to deal a
major blow to free and neutral Internet usage by repealing the
so-called Net Neutrality laws. Effectively,
this allows broadband companies the power to potentially
reshape Americans’ online experiences.
Effectively, the likes of AT&T and Comcast now have the
ability to block certain websites to their customers or even
charge more for usage of them. Now, the broadband providers can
influence what sites of the Internet are used.
For Bitcoin, this could have huge implications as the digital
currency operates totally online and within the sights of these
companies. Bitcoin and its related sectors have also been eyed
suspiciously by traditional monopolies, and their stance in the
eyes of these broadband providers is yet to be known.
Choosing a preferred exchange
For the everyday Bitcoin user, in the US for this instance,
there is a pretty familiar pattern.
The man on the street logs on to Coinbase buys his Ethereum,
Bitcoin or Litecoin and operates from there. The exchange is
the on-ramp and the exchange is also an easy target without Net
Marvin Ammori, lawyer for the advocacy group Fight for the
Future told Motherboard:
“The average person goes to Coinbase to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum or
Litecoin—the average on-ramp is an exchange, and those are
easy to block. If Comcast is the monopoly provider in an
area, the provider could decide there’s a preferred Bitcoin
While this is still hypothetical, it essentially means a new
weapon has been minted in the fight against Bitcoin. For
instance, these ISPs, under the pressure of governments or
other major institutions, could set in motion ways to stop
access to cryptocurrency exchanges.
The likes of Coinbase and other major exchanges have worked
hard to grow their reputation and assure people of a safe cryptocurrency space. But if they
are shut down or hindered to a point where they are unusable,
many crypto-enthusiasts will be left stranded.
However, if these ISPs do decide to let Bitcoin live on, there
is every chance they will use their new-found power to squeeze
the most out of them. Prefered Exchanges will be given
preference – and preferred will no doubt mean centralized.
According to Cornell University computer science professor
Emin Gün Sirer, even if
popular sites like Coinbase can pony up and pay a service
provider for faster traffic in the name of good business,
individual uses of Cryptocurrencies could still suffer.
“Peer-to-peer applications may be greatly affected because
they’re not in the top 100 most popular destinations on the
web. Providers can make the case that supporting those
non-top-100 services costs more, and users have to bear that
“My worry is it will affect the ability to run your own
A ‘node’ is one of many computers that communicate with each
other to run the decentralized network of a cryptocurrency.
Throttling nodes would require a service provider to manage
traffic at the IP level, and not simply look for a particular
Where to go?
This could put an end to many’s foray into the world of
cryptocurrency, shutting down the disruptive force on many
different established sectors. However, those who do stay would
then be forced back down the dark path of Bitcoin’s past – onto
the darknet and other illegal marketplaces.