How Net Neutrality Could Change Anime Streaming and Piracy

Overall, the repeal of Net Neutrality would affect Internet access for U.S. users and U.S. companies who would have to deal with higher costs for the data they currently use. Net Neutrality affects anime fans of all types due to its potential effect on streaming sites’ prices, access to HD streams, and illegal or unlicensed anime and manga sites could be blocked.

The vote on Net Neutrality is December 14th so if this affects you – consider calling on your local representative to support Net Neutrality.


What is Net Neutrality?Net Neutrality

Image via Free Press

Net neutrality is the belief that internet service providers (ISP), like AT&T and Verizon, cannot intentionally block, slow down, or charge you extra money to visit certain websites.

Net neutrality was established February 2015 when the government reclassified the internet as “telecommunication service,” protecting it under the Communications Act of 1934. Prior to this, certain ISPs were found guilty of malicious practices in the early to mid-2000s.

  • Comcast secretly slowed access to peer-to-peer file sharing websites
  • Madison River Communications prevented subscribers from using Vonage for internet calls
  • AT&T added restrictions to Apple’s FaceTime service if you didn’t pay an additional fee
  • Verizon was caught throttling Netflix and Youtube connection speeds.

Net neutrality makes those practices illegal.


Who Wants it Repealed?Net Neutrality

Image via Quartz

ISPs, especially the big-name ones, feel that net neutrality is unnecessary government regulation.

Opponents of net neutrality also argue that heavy data offerings like video streaming is more expensive to maintain server-side than text-based information and users should pay for that. If you view the internet as an expressway, slower moving trucks (video streaming, gif-heavy sites) would have their own slow lane, while standard vehicles (most websites) have their own lanes. People willing to pay more can drive on a dedicated express lane.

Net neutrality advocates have also used other non-net neutrality countries as a warning. One viral Tweet showcased a piecemeal practice from Portuguese ISP Meo. They offer “deals” that cut the internet into segments.

Another worry is that certain websites will be blocked for having dissenting, immoral, or political content. There is currently a lawmaker campaigning in Kentucky on a platform to ban internet pornography, which is something ISPs could make difficult to access without net neutrality.


Okay, but How Does This Affect Anime?


Your waifus will be stolen away and you can no longer indulge in hentai! But at least you wouldn’t be able to watch shit anime, so that’s good.

But in all seriousness, legal streaming sites may raise their subscription prices to cover their new ISP bill or you could be charged to have high-quality streaming. Exclusive deals with ISPs and mobile providers may happen too.

For example, Crunchyroll is part of Ellation, which is a subsidiary owned by AT&T and Chernin Group. Verizon could throttle access to the site since they are a part of AT&T, or Ellation could sign exclusive deals with other carriers to allow unlimited streaming on Crunchyroll instead of a competitor’s service.

Another possibility, if you look at other non-net neutrality countries, is that ISPs will introduce a streaming package to allow you high-speed streaming. Without it, you’ll be stuck with slow speeds and sub-HD video quality.

And pirates shouldn’t think they’ll walk away unscathed. Without net neutrality, ISPs could block your access to illegal sites and prevent you from torrenting. Such sites can pop-up again, but it’ll be easy for your ISP to flip the switch to block it.


When Will Net Neutrality’s Fate be Decided?Anime

A Congressional vote will be held on December 14, 2017.

Aaron Magulick
Aaron Magulick has been a fan of anime ever since being exposed to it in the late '90s. A fan of nearly all genres, he is not afraid to explore the creepier side of the industry.
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