Net neutrality1 will, almost certainly, increase the cost of end-consumer2 connections. The logic behind this is simple and requires only minimal understanding of economics; in short: requiring equal treatment of all data will mean that capacity increases will be the only way to ensure quality of service for important or time-sensitive data3; such increases in capacity will, necessarily, be inefficient4; increased inefficiency means increased operating costs5; and the consumer always pays.
On its site about the status of a “warp drive” (no, really), NASA has a useful ruler for measuring the development of any particular technology. This ruler has five stages:
- The very beginning of the quest for knowledge. This is when you know what you’d like to accomplish, but you have no idea if it is even possible.
- When you have learned enough to know what you do know, and know what you don’t toward solving the problem.
- The level when you have learned how nature works. You now know if something can be done and what it will involve.
- The level when you can begin to engineer and build working devices to apply those laws of nature to answer your goal.
- The final state when the technology is good enough to be put to common use. Cars, airplanes, microwave ovens are all in this category.
I had thought, at first, to start this article with a long list of Latin phrases1. Whereas that may have left my high school Latin teacher overjoyed, I suspect it would have detracted from my main goal: Explaining encryption in an accessible, understandable way. Naturally, that means I abandoned the Latin and opted to start with math2.
In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US Government’s domestic (and international) spying activity, there has been (understandably) an increase in the general public’s interest in encryption and secure communications. A number of good pieces of software have resulted from this increased interest (e.g., Signal, Threema, Telegram & 1), but some unscrupulous companies have also sought to take advantage both of the public’s interest and of the public’s lack of knowledge. Some forms of communication are inherently insecure, and any company attempting to sell you a “secure” version should be treated with extreme skepticism.