2017 ISP Privacy Regulations in the United States: All You Need to Know

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There’s been a lot of buzz about the US Congress’ recent vote to block FCC (Federal Communications Commission) regulations protecting consumer privacy over broadband Internet access – and on Monday, April 4th, President Trump officially signed the bill into law.

This move disapproves the FCC privacy rules, and has implications for both consumer privacy and open Internet principles. Below we take a look at what happened, what you can do to protect your privacy, and where we go from here.

What exactly happened?

The FCC passed new privacy regulations applicable to broadband providers (ISPs) in 2016 which required ISPs to obtain explicit “opt-in” consent from consumers before they could share and sell their personal information (i.e. browser history, location, communications) to third parties. The FCC rules were slated to go into effect in early 2017, but the FCC stayed the rules on March 3 — meaning they didn’t take effect.

Congress separately considered whether to reject the privacy rules under a statute called the Congressional Review Act, and both Senate and the House voted to disapprove them on March 23 and 28 respectively. On April 3, President Trump signed the bill into law – which killed the regulations and permanently precludes the FCC from adopting “substantially similar” rules in the future.

This was a “win” for broadband providers, who stridently opposed the overall net neutrality rules and specific broadband privacy rules, arguing that different and fewer rules govern large web-based companies that also collect and sell user information (for example Facebook, Google). Opponents also claim the rules are an unfair burden to ISPs that could confuse consumers and stifle innovation.

Implications for privacy and providers

The repeal means ISPs will continue to face less regulation, and they can continue to sell and profit from user information. It also preserves the existing duopoly situation that exists among ISPs, wherein US consumers generally only have one or two Internet providers to choose from (Time Warner Cable and Comcast provide Internet to nearly ¾ of new subscribers).

The repeal of the ISP rules maintains this provider control over the market. As a result, consumers are still subject to the same (albeit invasive) ISP data selling and sharing practices that were already occurring. Despite what some outlets are reporting, because the rules never actually went into place no consumer protections were actually “lost.”

If the FCC wishes to protect consumer privacy down the road, they will have to devise an entirely new framework governing ISPs. It’s likely any new rules will be general and not include a requirement for to opt-in, but will enable sharing by default. It’s also likely privacy protections AT LARGE will be rewritten following this outcome. Press reports certainly indicate the FCC plans to start the process of repealing the underlying 2015 “net neutrality” rule in the near future.

Protect your privacy with a VPN

Without stronger privacy rules governing ISPs, your personal information will continue to be shared and sold to third parties, potentially without your knowledge or consent. This leaves you with little control over your personal information including revealing information like location, sites visited, communications content, financial details and much more. Luckily, there is something you can do to protect yourself and your privacy – use a VPN.

The best thing you can do is use a VPN every time you connect to the Internet and on all your devices. A VPN encrypts your Internet connection preventing anyone – including your ISP – from viewing your online activity or personal details. VyprVPN is an effective tool to protect your privacy and prohibits your ISP from viewing browsing history, location and other personal details. If they cannot view your information, they cannot sell it, so a VPN is a great way to protect your privacy online despite invasive ISP snooping practices.

It’s time to change the conversation

While privacy protections are important, there’s also a larger issue at play here – Open Internet (or what some refer to as net neutrality). At Golden Frog, we believe it’s time for the conversation to change. We need to stop zeroing-in on the FCC privacy regulations and instead look at everything regarding Internet access and consumer privacy. To start, let’s take a quick look back at net neutrality…

The Open Internet Order took effect in 2015, but it was in fact a compromise – and ultimately an admission of failure. It’s true that the recent FCC privacy regulations would have been beneficial, but they were only necessary because of the existing net neutrality framework. They wouldn’t have been needed if the FCC had retained the prior rules in place (since the 1970s!) that required open, interoperable networks and open access to local monopolies’ basic bottleneck infrastructure.

These rules gave us the Internet to begin with, but the FCC started repealing them in the early 2000s causing thousands of independent ISPs (many of whom had privacy protective policies) to go out of business. Today the big companies are still in control, and continue to further expand their control by surveilling users and selling user information.

At Golden Frog, we have always valued choice, transparency and fully competitive markets. And now, given the current atmosphere, it’ time to reassess whether the failed “net neutrality” rules were the right answer. In a way, they represented final acceptance of monopoly markets as they didn’t provide adequate regulatory protection. Golden Frog supported the FCC privacy regulations (along with many others who value privacy and choice) at the time, because they granted consumers some additional control under the existing framework. But we’ve always contended the net neutrality framework was misguided because it all depends on regulators to constrain powerful interests. At this point, we need to reevaluate what we are fighting for.

A renewed call for open access

The right answer is a return to fully open, interoperable basic networks, and consumer choice in Internet access – or Open Access. In the current market most consumers have little or no choice in their provider, and even where two providers exist they have basically the same policies.

Open Access would allow for lots of Internet providers, rather than the duopoly-type situation that exists today. This would prevent broadband providers from controlling consumer privacy and data because consumers could choose providers that are more privacy-friendly and decide how they want their information to be handled.

As we are revisiting the debate at large, we believe it’s time to move past the context of the ISP privacy regulations, and revisit our approach to Internet privacy and access as a whole. It’s time for us to revisit open access.

Related:

US citizens flocking to the one tool that can guarantee their privacy

A new piece of research has found that almost all Americans are unhappy with the recent ditching of the FCC’s privacy rules that prevent ISPs from sharing users’ browsing data with third-parties – and the majority are happy to pay for a VPN in order to keep said data private.

The survey found that no less than 92% of US citizens disagreed with the repeal of the regulations which President Trump signed off last week, and believed that ISPs should not be allowed to monitor their online activity or sell the resulting data without consent.

Comparitech.com conducted the study which gathered online responses from some 1,200 US residents last week.

Other findings included the fact that six out of ten respondents said they’d change their browsing habits in some way due to the new legislation, and 80% said that if their particular congress representative or senator had voted for the bill to repeal the rules, they’d be ‘dissuaded’ from voting for that politician in the future.

Half of respondents said that they would pay extra for their ISP to keep their browsing data private, and as we already mentioned, the majority of those surveyed – 60% – said they were happy to pay for a VPN subscription to maintain their privacy.

There has certainly been far more interest in VPNs since last month, as we’ve seen a clearly inflated amount of Google searches for the term ‘VPN’ since before the FCC’s rules were actually cast aside. The above statistics underline this observation.

VPN vitals

Of course, if you are going the VPN route, you need to pick a quality provider you trust, as even if the encrypted connection hides your browsing history from the ISP, it won’t be hidden from the VPN outfit itself.

And as Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech.com, further observed: “While using a VPN is a simple solution to maintain privacy, in the wake of the broadband privacy repeal, we’ve seen reports of VPN-related scams capitalising on the new law. So users must choose a VPN with care.

“Many VPNs found on app stores and Google can actually worsen privacy by mining data, injecting advertisements into web browsers, or even deploying malware.”

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered here at TechRadar with a bunch of recommendations on the best VPNs to use.

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Telegram app brings its secure calls feature to Australia

Alternative messaging service Telegram has officially rolled out support for secure internet-based phone calls in Australia with its latest version (3.18) of the app.

The voice-call feature was introduced to Europe a little over a week ago, with the company promising the same feature for the rest of world “very soon”. Now it’s delivered on that promise with the feature unlocking for Australian users of its apps overnight.

Telegram’s Calls feature is apparently built using the same custom end-to-end encryption that is found in its Secret Chats (an approach which has been criticised by some in the security industry), although voice-chat will use a simplified verification system. Instead of a key-style verification seen in the service’s chats, both the caller and the recipient of the call will be presented with four emojis on-screen that they can verbally compare. If they all match, the call is secure.

The service will prioritise peer-to-peer connections for your calls, allowing for higher clarity audio signals, or will use the company’s own server infrastructure if the apps are unable to establish a priority connection. Telegram is also hoping to use integrated AI to optimise this feature based on each individual user’s usage (and the company promises this’ll happen without collecting anything sensitive), such as improving the quality of calls on your specific network.

Telegram is available across most platforms for free, with mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, as well as desktop clients for Windows, Linux and macOS operating systems.

Related:

Google’s fact checking feature now works on all searches worldwide

Search engine giant Google has rolled out an enhanced fact check feature for all searches made on the site from today.

This comes as part of a global move to fight the proliferation of fake news and incorrect information, with rising concern over political and social use of news stories made to mislead the public.

Google has had this fact checking feature on Google News since October 2016 in the US and UK, but it’s now been rolled out to its main search engine.

The feature provides fact checking sites, such as Snopes and Politifact, with richer snippets in their Google search results highlighting whether a particular news story or internet myth is true of false.

This means that you can see if the news is ‘fake’ without having to actually click through and read the article.

Fact checking site Snopes debunks myth in search results

Pushing back

While this is a welcome new addition, it doesn’t do anything to affect the ranking of the articles. If the fact check article would normally show up on page four, it will still show up on page four, just with enhanced information being displayed.

It also won’t flag sites which deal in satire, so anyone fooled by those pushing out this type of content will still have to do their own investigative work to realize the web page they’re reading is just a bit of fun.

Facebook introduced a similar, but slightly better, feature back in December 2016 with its ‘Disputed by’ tab appearing at the bottom of posts.

This means that if certain affiliated third parties – including Snopes and Politifact – disagree with a story, a tab appears at the bottom of the share window saying “Disputed by ….”, effectively intercepting the story before it can be read and disseminated.

All this demonstrates that the fight about fake news is being taken seriously online. In good time too, with recent moves in Europe to introduce legislature about fake news and hate crimes on social media.

On Wednesday, the German government approved a bill that will impose fines on social media sites that fail to remove fake news or hate speech, with the time limits and fines adjusted for how obviously fake it is, and how long it takes to get it removed.

It will be interesting to see in the coming months how all of these measures affect the spread of fake news. If they help people to become better informed, we certainly welcome them.

Via TechCrunch

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Here’s how Facebook is trying to eliminate ‘revenge porn’

In an effort to improve the safety and well-being of its users, Facebook is launching new tools to keep revenge porn off of its site.

The system works similar to reporting other policy-violating images on the social media service, allowing users to flag intimate images believed to have been shared without the subject’s consent to a Facebook review team.

From there, the team assesses if the photo violates Facebook’s community standards, removing it and also disabling the account behind the post if it’s believed not have posted it without permission.

The next phase is a lot more tech-heavy, as Facebook uses photo-matching systems to stop further posting or sharing of the image on not just Facebook, but Messenger and Instagram as well.

Facebook will inform any user whose image is blocked that it did so on the grounds it violated the site’s policy, with those who genuinely own the photo and consent to its viewing having a chance to make an appeal if there’s been a mistake.

A major issue

Revenge porn, also known as non-consensual pornography, is certainly no small issue for Facebook to tackle.

Often shared alongside other compromising details such as a full name or contact information, revenge porn can both devastate a victim’s safety online as well as cause a great deal of real-world harm.

A whopping 93% of individuals claim to have experienced severe emotional distress from their image being shared without permission, with 82% also reporting significant impairment with work, social interaction, and other important functionality, according to a 2013 study from the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

For more details about reporting revenge porn on Facebook, as well as advice on what to do in the unfortunate scenario of having your intimate images uploaded without your permission, Facebook offers a resource pamphlet you can read here.

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YouTube TV: Everything you need to know about the new TV streaming service

YouTube TV has finally arrived – though, it looks like it’s only in five cities for the time-being. The lucky cities to get YouTube’s new live TV streaming service include New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia, but more US cities are supposedly coming soon.

YouTube TV is joining the ‘established players’ in the cord-cutting world that include Sling TV and PlayStation Vue and relative newcomer, DirecTV Now.

But, out of the group, YouTube TV has the most potential.

Why is YouTube TV going to be big? Well, while PlayStation Vue and Sling TV had to carve out a new audience for their products, YouTube TV already has one – one billion users that live in 88 countries and speak 76 different languages.

Sure, both Sony and DISH are large corporations, but do they have one billion people using their products to stream videos every year? Not likely.

OK, so YouTube TV is going to be big, you get that. But what exactly is YouTube TV and why should you care? Let’s talk about it.

What is YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is a US-exclusive live TV streaming service – think Netflix but instead of on-demand TV shows and movies you’ll see cable channels like ABC, NBC, FOX, ESPN and Disney among many, many more. It’s like cable in the sense that everything is divided by channel and, yes, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for it, but the difference here is that you’ll be able to take shows whenever and wherever you go.

Well, sort of. Because YouTube TV has all the local stations, it will initially launch in a few cities and then expand out into other regions – similar to how PlayStation Vue started. YouTube hasn’t given us the exact number of channels on the service but it looks like a lot our favorites are here.

Loading up the service for the first time, we were recommended shows like Archer, The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons and many more. We easily found enough content to keep us entertained for the time-being, plus will have plenty to watch next time we log-on thanks to YouTube TV’s stellar Cloud DVR.

Cloud DVR, if you’ve never heard that term before, allows you to record your favorite shows as they air and save them, well, to the cloud so that you can watch them later. It’s TiVo, but everything’s online. YouTube TV promises unlimited storage for shows for up to nine months – a serious advantage over the competition which usually only offer 28 days of storage.

YouTube TV on every device? We hope so.

Also, unlike Sling TV which wants you to buy a more expensive package to allow more than one user to watch TV at a time, YouTube says that its service will allow up to six people in the family to access the service and will allow up to three of them tune into the service simultaneously on the same account – a big advantage when you’re looking to replace cable and you have a big family.

The other thing we know about YouTube TV is its price: $35 a month. For comparison, that’s slightly more expensive than Sling TV’s basic $20-per-month package and a few dollars less than PlayStation Vue’s basic $39 package that includes local stations like CBS, NBC, etc…

But, to sweeten the deal, pay for your first month of service and you’ll get a brand-new Chromecast for free.

Cut to the chase

  • What is YouTube TV? A live TV streaming service like Sling TV
  • When is it coming out? It will be out in the next few months
  • How much will it cost? $35 per month, unless you get an add-on package
  • Where can you watch it? Anywhere in one of the selected cities

What channels are included?

Again, we don’t have a complete picture of who exactly YouTube roped into the deal, but we do know a few of the big players. First off, all the local channels are on-board: NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX. That means every NFL game up to and including the Super Bowl, are yours to watch every Sunday.

Now that YouTube TV has arrived, we also know that AMC has signed on, which means you’ll still be able to get your Walking Dead fix on Sundays.

Beyond the local stuff, you’ve got all the channels that fall under the umbrella of those companies – i.e. ESPN, CSN, FOX Sports, USA, FX, Disney, E!, Bravo, SyFy, FXX, National Geographic, MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC and more.

(Image: © YouTube)

On top of all those channels we’ve already mentioned, you’ll also get access to YouTube’s own network of shows, YouTube Red Originals. Shows on this ‘network’ (a term we use very lightly here) include Scare PewDiePie and exclusive films that you’ve probably never heard of. This really isn’t a huge draw for most people, but hey, maybe the money that comes in from YouTube TV can be used to crank up the quality of this content to near-Netflix levels.

Now, like Amazon Video, you can actually tack on additional premium stations for an extra fee. Right now the list of premium offerings include FOX Soccer Plus and Showtime, which will likely cost around $10 extra per month.

OK, so who’s missing so far? Well, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, MTV and TNT aren’t there, which is a bit of a bummer, and there aren’t as many channels for kids on YouTube TV as there are on Sling TV – a potential problem for parents.

HBO hasn’t signed up for the service yet either, which is strange considering that it peddles its wares on Amazon Video, but then again you can always subscribe to HBO Now if you really need your Game of Thrones on the go.

How is it different than YouTube Red?

This can be sort of confusing, so listen up. YouTube Red is an ad-free version of YouTube that has a few fun features like allowing you to keep a video playing even when your phone is turned off. A subscription to YouTube Red also gives you access to the YouTube Red Originals channel that we talked about earlier.

What YouTube Red won’t allow you to do is watch live TV or cable TV content. For that you’ll need YouTube TV.

YouTube TV, like YouTube Red, will start as a US-only service and then might possibly expand out into other territories. YouTube wants to roll its Red service out to the UK sometime in 2017, but it’s facing problems doing so. It’s more than likely YouTube TV would follow in that path, unfortunately.

Is there some crossover potential here between these two services? Absolutely. Maybe a subscription to YouTube TV also nets you a free subscription to Red. But we’ll just have to wait to find out more from YouTube if that’s the case.

Is YouTube TV a better deal than cable?

That’s a good question and a very pertinent one. The answer here is ‘maybe’. Depending on how many channels YouTube TV ends up with and how easy it is to stream (hopefully YouTube won’t have the same performance issues Sling TV and Vue have), then yes, it has the potential to be a much better deal than cable.

Look at it this way: if you’re already paying for internet service, you can tack on an extra $30 for YouTube TV and maybe a $10-per-month subscription to Netflix and have just as much content as you’d have from a cable TV service that usually run $60-70 per month.

That being said, if you’re paying for one of those bundles that allows you to package cable, internet and phone service together, YouTube TV might not come out to be any less.

You’re still going to need cable (or HBO Now) for your Game of Thrones fix

The benefits of going for a streaming service over a cable service are the ability to watch shows wherever you go, the potential to use Cloud DVR to save shows for later and the no-obligations contract that allows you to cancel your account without a termination fee. On top of everything else, you don’t need to rent a cable box from companies like Comcast, Spectrum or AT&T, because the streaming service comes in through whatever device you’re using.

If YouTube TV can offer as many channels as basic cable does, without the need for a cable box and 12-month contract, we’ll consider it a win. If it can do all that, offer Cloud DVR, a plethora of apps for devices like Roku, Apple TV and the various game consoles and video-on-demand, it will be one of the best streaming services on the planet.

So, when can you watch it? Right now. Just head over to tv.youtube.com to start your free trial.

Related:

Amazon targets UK’s £100bn B2B market with new offering

Amazon Business has arrived in the UK, an online marketplace which allows businesses to sell to other companies.

The new offering is a free upgrade to Amazon’s Professional Selling plan that provides a feature set tailored for business-to-business (B2B) sales, and offers EU-wide selling, enabling the export of goods abroad for a wider potential audience.

Vendors can also set up exclusive offers for business customers, and volume purchasing discounts. The Amazon Business store uses VAT-exclusive prices, and automatic VAT invoicing, as well as software to track spending.

According to Amazon, there will be over a hundred million products on the new B2B store, ranging from typical office supplies and stationery to more niche items like laboratory equipment.

Big business

The service is already up and running in the US and Germany, and it’s now servicing more than 400,000 businesses over in the States, having seen over $1 billion (around £800 million) worth of sales in the first year, Amazon says.

The US operation was launched back in April 2015, with Germany getting Amazon Business at the end of last year – the latter now has over 50,000 business customers, apparently.

The business-to-business market in the UK is worth almost £97 billion, going by statistics from the ONS – and that was using figures from 2015, so doubtless the value has increased by now.

Bill Burkland, Head of Amazon Business in the UK, told the BBC that the service would boast “a new set of unique business features – from reporting and analytics to spending limits and purchasing workflow approvals”.

You can register for, and check out all the FAQs regarding Amazon’s fresh offering right here.

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Majority of broadband users have experienced connection problems in the last year

The consumer watchdog Which is banging the broadband drum again, providing fresh research that points to the fact that many folks in the UK are still struggling with poor connections, with the majority of punters having encountered some sort of issue pertaining to their broadband in the year gone past.

The consumer watchdog’s latest findings are that no less than six out of every 10 people have experienced some manner of problem with their broadband in the past year, and that the majority of those that are ‘frustrated’ with the situation. (We’re guessing some people are further along the anger scale than that, too).

Indeed, a third of those who have experienced issues have been completely cut off from the online world – i.e. their connection went down for a period of time – and this has hit some users where it really hurts: in the pocket. In other words, that downtime has actually cost the person in question money.

The author of the Which blog post even complains about his ‘shoddy’ broadband, which meant that he couldn’t watch the end of a rented online film recently, thanks to a connection outage which lasted until after the rental period expired.

And plenty of people seem to have taken the time to post complaints on the Which site. One user wrote: “I found I had better broadband speed when I was in the wilds of Washington State in the US and also in the south of Paris than I do in London.”

Another user from mid-Wales said: “Download speed 1.1Mbps. Upload speed 0.3Mbps. Almost unusable. Why do we have to pay the full price?”

Check it out

Want to check your own broadband speed? Then handily enough, Which has just launched its own speed checker which you’ll find here.

We tried the checker and it seemed fine for gauging download and upload speeds, although the ping time result we got seemed very suspect. According to Which, our fibre connection had a ping of around 110ms, when normally it’s about 20-30ms (Speedtest.net showed it as 19ms when we tried it immediately after the Which test).

Still, as ever, your mileage may vary. Which’s checker also allows you to compare results with others in your local area, and for those who aren’t happy with their broadband speed, the consumer watchdog has knocked up a template letter of complaint for your ISP.

The other option is you can take action yourself – right now – to try and improve your broadband in some measure, and to that end, we have a full guide on how to test and improve the speed of your internet connection in Windows 10.

Although no amount of tinkering with your setup is going to turn a terrible broadband connection into a good one, obviously enough.

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Amazon to issue millions in refunds for click-happy in-app children’s purchases

Letting your kids use your gadgets has its benefits and its downsides.

Although capable of stopping a tantrum or preventing a strop, your device will likely come back plagued with sticky fingerprints. Oh, and you might have just unwittingly racked up a sizeable bill of in-app purchases too.

Well, if you’ve experienced this costly problem in the past, you could be able to get your money back, with Amazon confirming it is to refund in-app purchased made by kids.

Now, this isn’t the giant gesture of goodwill it might first sound like. Instead, it’s the culmination of a three-year legal battle between the online retailer and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US regulator.

The case, which accused Amazon of billing customers for unauthorised in-app purchases made by their children, has now been settled.

As a result, Amazon is to make a pool of around $70 million (£56.12m) available for refunds.

“Consumers affected by Amazon’s practices can now be compensated for charges they didn’t expect or authorise,” said Thomas B. Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

As a result of the ruling, if you were charged for an in-app purchase made by your kids between November 2011 and May 2016, you could now be eligible for a refund.

In-app purchase refund

Amazon, however, has yet to offer up details on the refund program and how you’ll be able to claim back money owed to you.

The Amazon App Store can be added to a number of Android devices and comes pre-installed on the company’s own Amazon Fire tablets.

Although all app platforms offer in-app purchases, parents had complained that Amazon’s service made it too easy for children to make digital purchases without their consent. Amazon isn’t the only one to have been hit by such a case, however.

Back in 2014, both Apple and Google settled similar cases with the FTC. They seemed to get off a bit lighter, however, with combined refunds amounting to $51 million.

According to the FTC, Amazon takes a 30% cut of all apps sold through its digital store.

For now this is a US-based ruling, but the result could have implications for customers in the UK and Europe.

Via The Verge

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Australia’s best streaming services compared

UPDATE: Netflix for Windows 10 finally gets offline viewing – it’s now possible for Windows 10 users to download Netflix shows on their PCs, laptops and Surface tablets.

Original article continues below:

Now that streaming media has become a mainstay in Australian homes, Aussies have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to getting their home entertainment fix.

When combined, Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video offer an enormous range of content that can be instantly streamed into your home. However, if you can only afford one subscription service, narrowing down a definitive choice can be harder than it seems.

As each service brings with it a unique range of television shows and movies aimed at different segments of the streaming audience, not to mention differing price points, device compatibility and streaming qualities, we’ve taken it upon ourselves bring you an in-depth guide to what you can expect from Australia’s three major SVOD platforms.

With the constantly evolving nature of each service discussed in this guide, we will endeavour to keep you updated on any significant changes and updates that may occur to these streaming giants in the future.

Here’s how the Australian streaming situation stacks up in 2016.

Netflix vs Stan vs Amazon Prime Video: price

Australia s best streaming services compared

Probably the best thing about having so many streaming options to choose from, is that it forces each service to be priced competitively.

Last to arrive to Australia, Netflix offers the cheapest stream of the main three, with a single stream in standard definition at $8.99, which, if we’re being honest, isn’t particularly good value, but may appeal to those who live alone and have a poor quality internet connection.

Thankfully, for $11.99 a month you can get a dual-stream subscription that offers HD streaming quality.

If 4K streams are what you’re after, you’ll need to subscribe to Netflix’s premium package, which costs $14.99 a month and allows you to watch the service on four devices simultaneously. This is probably the most ideal subscription for families with differing tastes in shows and movies.

It should also be noted that a proposed Netflix Tax may raise the price slightly in the near in future.

Though Netflix is obviously working off of how it’s priced overseas, Stan has chosen to come out at the low, no-nonsense price of $10 a month.

This kind of price cuts straight to the point – once you’ve tested the service’s 30 day trial, you’re either on board with forking over a tenner each month, or you’re not.

Undercutting Netflix’s pricing substantially, Amazon has a special introductory offer that grants new subscribers access to the service for a monthly fee US$2.99 (AU$4) for the first six months, after which it will renew at US$5.99 (AU$8) each month after that.

Netflix vs Stan vs Amazon Prime Video: devices

Australia s best streaming services compared

For many people, the decision of which streaming service to sign up for may come down to the devices they own.

Netflix has the biggest global reach and has been around the longest, which is why it can be streamed on the largest number of devices.

The Netflix app is available on a wide range of smart TVs from manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Philips and Hisense, though you should check your television model to see if the service is supported. Stan is available on all 2013-2015 Samsung smart TVs featuring Smart Hub software, 2014-2016 Sony smart TVs (running Android TV) and all 2014-2015 LG smart TVs running WebOS and Netcast software.

It’s also just been announced that Stan is now streaming on selected 2015 and 2016 model Hisense smart TVs, and will also be available on every Hisense TV released in 2017.

At present, Amazon Prime Video only officially offers its service in Australia through computer browsers, however, the Amazon Prime app has sneakily appeared on a number of 4K smart TVs, such as Sony’s Android TV models. Before settling on Prime, you should check and see if you smart TV has an app for it.

And, while Amazon Prime Video hasn’t officially released console apps in Australia yet, there is a simple trick to streaming the service on your Xbox One.

If your smart TV is of the 4K/UHD variety, chances are that its Netflix app supports 4K streaming. You can also get a 4K Netflix stream for the latest wave of Ultra HD Blu-ray players, such as the Panasonic DMP-UB900 and the Samsung UBD-K8500. Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One S, also offers 4K playback.

The Apple TV also supports Netflix and has features built around service, such as the ability to use Siri to search for titles by voice, which places Netflix titles appear alongside iTunes listings. A Stan app is also available for Apple TV, but Amazon won’t allow its app on Apple TV or Chromecast for business reasons. With that said, you should be able to display Amazon Prime Video on your Apple TV through AirPlay. So far, Siri functionality is only available to Netflix.

Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video are all available on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, though some older Android models may not be compatible.

When it comes to game consoles, Netflix has the biggest reach, with apps for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One S, PS3, PS4 and the Nintendo Wii U. Stan has most of the consoles covered but lacks support for Xbox 360 and Wii U.

Netflix and Stan are also available on Fetch TV, which is quite handy for the hundreds of thousands of Australians currently subscribed to Fetch.

If you don’t have any of the TV-connected devices listed above and still want to watch Netflix and Stan on your television, each service can also be streamed to a Google Chromecast, which ostensibly provides regular TVs with smart TV functionality (so long as you have a smartphone or tablet to stream from).

Finally, you can watch Netflix and Stan on the Roku 2-powered Telstra TV media streaming box.

Netflix vs Stan vs Amazon Prime Video: kids

Australia s best streaming services compared

When it comes to kids shows and movies, each service has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Stan has a wide selection of children-friendly shows that mostly stem from its partnerships with Turner Broadcasting (the Cartoon Network), the ABC and Viacom.

Cartoon Network favourites like Adventure Time, Ben 10, Regular Show, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken, Generator Rex and Ed, Edd, n Eddy are all ready to stream on Stan.

Likewise, classic ABC titles like The Wiggles, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Guess How Much I Love You and Justine Clarke, as well as overseas titles like Octonauts, Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder, Thomas and Friends, Fireman Sam, Sesame Street and Mister Maker are available to stream on the app, and its Viacom deal brings with it a large range of shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr, like Avatar: The Last Airbender; Octonauts, Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Bubble Guppies, and popular live-action shows like iCarly, VICTORiOUS, and Drake & Josh.

Like the rest of Amazon Prime Video’s content library, its Kids selection is quite sparse at present. You’ll find a number of Amazon Original kids shows you’ve probably never heard of, like Wishenpoof!, Tumble Leaf and Just Add Magic, alongside some tried-and-true kids movies classics, like The Little Rascals, Casper, Spy Kids and Babe.

Netflix also has a wide-ranging partnership with Walt Disney, bringing with it films and TV shows from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm.

Animation fans will be happy to know that Netflix has also produced some original shows based on classic DreamWorks properties, including Puss in Boots and How to Train Your Dragon.

Deals with other big children’s program distributors Saban, DHX Media and Hasbro Studios have also provided Netflix with numerous incarnations of Power Rangers and My Little Pony.

Special mention should also be given to inclusion of the classic Aussie kid’s show, Round the Twist, on both Netflix and Stan’s respective catalogues.

Netflix vs Stan vs Amazon Prime Video: TV

Stan Content

A wide and varied range of television shows are available on Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video, thanks to individual deals between each of the SVOD services and their content partners. Because of this, each service should have something for everyone in your family.

While there’s a lot of crossover when it comes to the availability of shows on each platform, perhaps the most important deciding factor comes down to the exclusives and original shows available on each service.

Netflix is without question the leader in this regard, with a large, global slate of original shows that are, for the most part, available in every one of its territories around the world.

The service has achieved huge success with its diverse lineup, which includes award-winning shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, long-form superhero shows like Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones, internationally-targeted shows like Narcos, animated sitcoms such as BoJack Horseman and F is For Family, comedies like Fuller House, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Master of None, and countless stand up comedy specials, to name but a small selection from its rapidly-expanding library.

Though Stan is only available in Australia, it has already begun creating its own original content, having produced the improvised comedy series No Activity, the upcoming TV spin-off of Wolf Creek and the second season of Plonk.

Stan is notable for also having a large range of exclusive shows in its stable, with Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, Power, UnReal, Community, Lost Girl, Dig, Gallipoli, Ash vs Evil Dead, 11.22.63 and Better Call Saul tied to the service for the entire life of each series.

Australia s best streaming services compared

Unlike its competitors, Stan also fast-tracks new episodes of its exclusive shows as soon as they air overseas.

As the newest service to hit Australian shores, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t currently have much of a content library on offer, then again, that probably goes a long way to explaining why the subscription price is so cheap for the first six months.

Most people considering a Prime subscription are probably looking to watch The Grand Tour, the new car enthusiast show from the team behind the beloved series, Top Gear. If that’s what you’re after, you’ll happy to know that every available episode of the series is available on Amazon Prime Video in HDR, with new episodes arriving weekly.

Other big Amazon Original shows include Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent, though these shows have been available on Stan direct from the US for quite some time. That said, there are others which are only available to stream on Amazon Prime, including The Man in the High Castle, Red Oaks, Hand of God and Bosch.

You’ll also find a small selection of classic shows, like The Shield and Justified.

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