Culture

Alex Nguyen Just Waged War on Verizon Over Net Neutrality Violations that Hurt Consumers

(Photo by: Frank Duenzl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

With net neutrality about to be eviscerated by new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai — with support from the Trump administration — what can we expect going forward? Net neutrality means the carriers and cable companies must treat all web traffic and devices as equal and provide no special favors such as sending their own content at higher speeds than their competitors.

It turns out that a recent college graduate from Santa Clara has been conducting research over the past two years based on his experience as a longtime Verizon customer using numerous devices running on its network. He compiled a 112-page document with 300 citations. In the document, he describes actions that Verizon has taken since 2012 that illustrate how the company has consistently violated the idea of an open Internet. He used his research to file a complaint against Verizon relating to the changes in the regulations and to provide an indication of what we can expect with the loss of the net neutrality rules.

“Alex Nguyen filed the only formal net neutrality complaint, and he’s still waiting for an answer,” according to an article in The Verge.

His complaints include the following actions Verizon has taken that clearly go against the intent of net neutrality, a law that Verizon is adamantly fighting:

  1. Verizon Blocked Asus Nexus 7 Tablets for 22 Weeks.
  2. Verizon Blocked Third-Party Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Devices for 47 Weeks.
  3. Verizon Blocked Third-Party Motorola Nexus 6 Smartphones for 29 Weeks.
  4. Verizon imposes discriminatory pricing on bringing your own device.
  5. Verizon Disables (or Compels Edge Providers to Disable) FM Radio Capabilities.
  6. Verizon Disables (or Compels Apple to Disable) Embedded Apple SIMs.
  7. Verizon Disables Built-in Tethering Features and Charges an Additional $20.00/Month to Re-Enable Them.
  8. Verizon Compelled Customers to Use FamilyBase and Blocked Samsung from Enabling Blocking Mode.
  9. Verizon Compelled Samsung to Preload Isis Wallet and Blocked Pay with PayPal.
  10. Verizon Compelled Samsung to Preload Verizon Cloud and Blocked Samsung from Preloading Microsoft OneDrive.
  11. Verizon Compelled Samsung to Preload Android Pay and Blocked Samsung Pay.
  12. To compel customers to use Isis Wallet, a Verizon-backed mobile payment application, the carrier blocked Google Wallet, a competing application.
  13. Verizon Compelled Samsung to Preload Caller Name ID and Blocked Samsung from Integrating Whitepages.
  14. Verizon misleads and deceives customers by stating third-party devices that are compatible with its network are not.
  15. Verizon offers vague and specious allegations (instead of specific explanations) for denying network access.

Nguyen claims that Verizon has violated net neutrality openness rules in six areas, including pricing discrimination, limiting a customer’s choice, and simply lying about its practices. For example, Verizon has lied about allowing certain phones on its network, saying they haven’t met their reliability standards.

“Carriers have been doing this forever,” Nguyen said. “Verizon, in particular, has been one of most brazen.”

As noted in The Verge, Verizon has denied all of Nguyen’s claims and said, “Mr. Nugyen is mistaken. His complaint misstates the facts and misinterprets the law. Verizon is committed to an open internet and complies with the FCC’s transparency and access rules.”

So while Verizon and the other carriers and cable companies say they can be trusted once net neutrality regulations are repealed, the best way to judge their actions is to look at what they’ve done in the past rather than what they say.

Remember, this is a simple power play pitting the huge companies that run the networks under license from the government against the consumer, impacting what they pay and can access without favoritism.