ISPs and Tunnel Vision

Jackson G. Kaindume


I raised a concern recently on one of the mailing lists at Internet Society. The issue was about ISPs allocating free data bundles to popular apps (WhatsApp, Facebook etc), it turns out that this is a well known issue and ongoing debate it even has a name ZERO-RATING.

Zero-rating is the practice of providing Internet access without financial cost under certain conditions, such as by only permitting access to certain websites or by subsidizing the service with advertising. ~ wikipedia


The issue with zero-rating is that ISPs now act like tunnels leading to the destination chosen by the ISP, which makes the ISP similar to a television broadcaster that choose what to show on their channels. This defeats one of the core principles of the Internet which is the freedom to choose what you consume and publish. ISPs should be neutral allowing users to access the entire world wide web.

Shrinking Web

Zero-rating also shrinks the size of the Web to just a few apps. Today allot of people cannot differentiate between Google/Facebook and the Web and this is a big problem that is being amplified by ISPs.


Zero rating allows for internet monopolies to exist and makes it hard for small websites/ internet services to be accessed or discovered. It is like if a Supermarket told the road builder to build all the roads in the direction of the Supermarket, thereby cutting out the small markets because no roads lead to them.

Network Effect

Zero rating allows for a large number of people to use the free service, this can cause a network effect which is the indirect value the free services gains as more people use it and this makes the internet that much smaller and the chance of discovering new desitnations goes down.

Society and Reality

With Zero Rating mass manipulation of society is possible. ISPs are essentially in the position to choose the narative and there by effect society and to some extend reality (what is true and what is false). When everyone is sharing the same things and consuming the same things the contents of our conciousness is also much more poor and there is a lack of creativity in our society. The core of internet/web is that it allows us to express and explore diverse resources, transcending libraries and television.
⧉ kwatafana | email: kwatafana (at) protonmail (dot) com

updated: 2023-01-19 12:20:15.342820837 UTC