Internet

Can I be anonymous online?

Episode 1104

Louis from Hollywood, CA
Guy Fawkes Mask

Louis says that cookies or tokens are a violation of privacy. Leo says they're pretty benign, though. The cookie only exists to allow him to keep from logging in to a site every time he visits. It reads the token and knows who he is. He could turn them off or prevent third party cookies. The browser leaks enough information about him to identify him, though. He could surf privately and delete all of his cookies, but even with all that, his ISP knows everything he does online. So if he really wants to be anonymous, he'd have to pretty much give up being online.

Net Neutrality Comment Period Closes with Record 1 Million+ Comments

Episode 1104

typing

The net neutrality issue is whether ISPs should be allowed to charge to have access to us, their customers. But Time Warner claims the controversy over fast lane access is a red herring. They claim that the shoe is actually on the other foot, and that Google and Netflix could demand payments from the cable company. Leo says that's why Net Neutrality is important. It protects both sides.

Why do I pay so much more for less internet speed than Europe?

James from Bullhead City, AZ

Episode 1103

James says he's noticing that over 300 MBPS is available overseas for under $40 a month. It's maddening that Europe gets that kind of performance and James pays $50 for 3MB down. That's outrageous. Leo says that is disgusting. We pay more than many countries for less service. And because we invented it, we have incompatible systems still in use and that can be expensive. There's a benefit to not being the first, but it's almost always the meddling of governments who have created a duopoly for internet service.

Where can I get free Wi-Fi?

Dave from Riverside, CA

Episode 1096

Dave says that Riverside is ending their free Wi-Fi service tomorrow after complaints that some people couldn't use it. AT&T, who set it up, pulled out a few years ago and Riverside may have decided it was too costly to operate on their own. Leo says that's a shame because Riverside was one of the first communities to give it a try. It's not likely that more communities will be able to join in, as most ISPs have lobbied legislatures to outlaw free Wi-Fi service so ISPs can charge more.

Verizon and Netflix Feuding Over Slow Streaming Speeds

Episode 1091

Whenever Netflix has been having buffering issues, they have been checking with other customers of the same internet service provider to verify that they also are having problems. If they are, Netflix has been displaying a message that puts the blame on that internet service provider for being too congested. Verizon sent Netflix a cease and desist letter to get them to stop doing this, though.

AT&T Claims Buying DirecTV Will Bring Prices Down

Episode 1092

In their effort to replace their failed UVerse Internet and Entertainment packaging, AT&T wants to buy DirecTV. AT&T has also promised everyone that if the deal goes through, prices will drop. Leo says that would be a first. All too often, when there's less choice, prices go up. And with Comcast going after Time Warner and now AT&T going after DirecTV, he doesn't expect prices to drop any time soon. Quite the opposite, actually.

Why am I getting warning messages on websites after having installed browser extensions?

Dan from Northridge, FL

Episode 1089

Dan recently began using Google Chrome, and when he tries to use some extensions, he gets a warning box that says it can access his data on all websites along with browsing activity. Leo says this is true of any browser anyway, and is probably a little overzealous. Leo says his browser and internet service provider knows everything he does. This means that if he installs an extension, it will also know everything. It's important to only get browser extensions from the browser's extension store. He should only get them from well known and credible companies.

How can I get my local municipality to build its own broadband infrastructure?

Bob from Walnut Creek, CA

Episode 1087

Leo thinks this could be the best answer to the open internet issue with the FCC. If communities create their own internet, it ends the conversation because it is a municipal utility like water or electricity. One way communities could make this financially viable is to ask commercial providers to provide service on top of their infrastructure. It could also encourage competition among providers. It's a great idea, but it's hard to convince municipalities to do it.