Net neutrality is a buzzword you hear every so often, but you may not understand its full implications for the future of the digital marketplace. Ultimately, losing net neutrality could cost digital marketers their industry.
Digital marketers stand to lose quite a lot if net neutrality is sacrificed to government and the profits of broadband providers. In short, the concept ensures all internet users have unthrottled access to any website across the web. Without it, businesses and individuals alike may eventually need to pay each Internet Service Provider (ISP) to remove speed throttles so visitors can see their sites.
In this article, we will explain how net neutrality ensures an open market and helps to avoid potential fallouts, then we’ll discuss what you can do to support the cause right now. Let’s get started!
What net neutrality is (and how it ensures a digital open market)
Net neutrality is the idea that ISPs and governments must treat all online data the same. This means any regulating powers should not limit or restrict the flow of data based on its users, content, or application. The term was first coined by Tim Wu of Columbia University, in 2003.
In violation of net neutrality principles, ISPs have frequently attempted to control data to increase profits. You can see this in the examples of Comcast and others who previously throttled file sharing sites such as BitTorrent to reduce the amount of data users could access on their account. Madison River Communications was also found guilty of blocking rival Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoiP) calling companies such as Vonage in 2005. More recently, AT&T made it impossible for users without their latest data plan to use FaceTime on their iPhones.
Digital marketers should take note of these net neutrality violations. Without restrictions, ISPs have the ability to create partnerships with digital marketing agencies that have deep pockets. In other words, you may no longer be free to create and invent digital products or services online without having an ISP withhold access to them from their customers. That is, unless you have the money to pay them off!
With net neutrality in place, you have the legal grounds to contest this kind of behavior. Without it, you won’t be able to hold ISPs accountable if they throttle access to your site in order to earn more money for themselves.
Why maintaining net neutrality is vital for digital marketers
The reason so many are up in arms about net neutrality is the threat of losing the free market. If ISPs are legally allowed to restrict access to open data for corporate gain, it leaves individuals and small businesses at serious risk of having their sites throttled without any available recourse.
As a digital marketer, your company clearly stands at the heart of the issue. Your job is to help businesses get their websites found on the open web. If your clients are unable to pay off major ISPs around the world to be included within top-tier services, their sites will load much more slowly in most areas. Considering how site speed affects their bottom line, these slower sites would struggle to become successful online businesses.
In short, it would quickly become near impossible for smaller sites (such as an independent digital marketing agencies and their clients) to compete with large corporations. There would no longer be equal access to the internet for anyone, forcing out those who aren’t able to afford access to better services.
How to help support Net Neutrality
The FCC page where you can leave public comments.
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published the Open Internet Order as a standard baseline for enforcing net neutrality. Within it are three bright-line rules to prevent unfair internet restrictions outside of reasonable network management. These are:
- No blocking of legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No throttling of internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No paid prioritization of certain lawful internet traffic over other types. There are no exceptions to this third rule.
Recently, the FCC has begun voting to undo these common sense rules that ensure fair access to an open internet for all. It is time to ask them to reconsider this new stance and encourage them to continue supporting net neutrality.
You can leave an official comment with the FCC on this matter up until August 16, 2017. Here’s how to leave your own comment, as both an internet user and a digital marketer:
- Compose a thoughtful comment. You can include who you are and how net neutrality affects you, explain the reasons you pay for access to the internet, and discuss your choices for internet providers. Don’t forget to mention whether you think the FCC should have a say in the matter!
- Click on the +Express button on the FCC page for the current proceedings.
- Fill out the required information, paste in your comment, and follow the prompts for submission.
Net neutrality is important for all, but it will particularly impact digital marketers. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard!
Net neutrality ensures that all businesses and users online can legally demand no data throttling from their ISPs. Without this kind of legal footwork, the web could quickly cease to be open access as we know it today, destroying the digital market.
In this article, we’ve discussed:
- What net neutrality is, and its importance in maintaining a freely accessible internet.
- Why net neutrality is vital for digital marketers and their clients.
- How you can help defend your position as a digital marketer and support net neutrality.