So by now, you’ve probably heard something about “net neutrality” and today’s Internet Slowdown.
For those of you who haven’t, I want to bring it to your attention. I believe net neutrality and its impending doom directly affect us as a small business, and as designers and developers. I personally make stuff for the internet every day, and you might gather resources for a project. Or, perhaps, you go home and watch Netflix to decompress after a long day’s work. This, my friends, could all change in the near future.
I’ve taken some time to gather the following information about net neutrality from around the internet, and I’m happy to share it with you.
What exactly is Net Neutrality?
Simply put, “net neutrality” prevents internet providers (like Verizon and Comcast) from dictating the kinds of content you’re able to access online. Instead, Internet providers have to treat all traffic sources equally. Net neutrality is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC. (source)
Why is it in danger?
The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on January 14th, 2014, that the FCC doesn’t actually have the right to enforce net neutrality. They stated that although the government is responsible for overseeing crucial utilities like telephone service and electricity – considered “common carriers” – the Internet isn’t one of those utilities under current law.
The implication of this ruling means, eventually, Internet Service Providers would become the “gatekeepers of the web” and would determine the content shared to users based on those ISP’s own interests. (source)
“Cable companies would have the power to discriminate against online content and applications — they could pick winners and losers, shake sites down for fees, block content for political reasons, and make it easier for Internet users to view cable content. (For instance, Comcast owns NBC, and so has incentives to make it easier to view NBC content than that of other providers.)”
-BattleForTheNet | read more
“In the absolute worst-case scenario, we could be looking at a sponsored Internet in the future, where the only things Verizon or Comcast subscribers see is the information those providers want them to see.”
-Alyson Shontell, Business Insider | read more
How does this affect you? Real Art?
Wasp has laid out 3 big factors that could harm individuals and small businesses if net neutrality is lost: (source)
- Higher Costs
Without net neutrality, Internet Service Providers are able to create their own payment options for individuals and businesses. Although nothing is official, these Internet companies could charge higher fees for higher speeds. For example, with Netflix being the leading streaming video provider on the Internet, they may have to pay more to ISPs in order to provide customers with fast content.
- No Longer an Even Playing Field
Net neutrality ensures small businesses are able to compete with larger companies. With both having the same access to the Internet, they are able to have the same opportunities for their businesses. If net neutrality is eliminated, small businesses may not be able to afford to share content and therefore, unable to compete with their larger competitors.
- Changes to Video Marketing
Small businesses that rely on video and YouTube as part of their marketing strategy, could see changes if net neutrality is eliminated. If we can’t afford to pay Internet providers to share our content, our potential customers may not be able to view as many product videos and may not be enticed to purchase our products. Furthermore, the investment to produce and optimize these videos will be result in a monetary loss.
Sonia Simone from Copyblogger laments, “My biggest concern about this issue is that it affects the ability of small-to-medium businesses in the U.S. to compete on an equal playing field. The web has always allowed companies like yours and mine to compete effectively with our big rivals — if we’re smart, strategic, and nimble. But when our content has to wheeze through a congested “slow lane” while our big competitors streak past us in a premium-priced “fast lane,” the field gets a lot less equal. And when content produced by a national chain competitor can be delivered many times faster than ours, that directly affects our ability to compete.” (read more)
For even more information, check out: https://www.battleforthenet.com/. There, you can learn about all this nonsense, the internet slowdown, and how to help the cause. Through phone calls, emails, and comments made to the FCC, we can hopefully retain our internet freedom.
This issue goes beyond all political lines, but directly into our daily professional / personal lives.