How Net Neutrality Deregulation Could Hurt Law Firms

 

Additional Info On Net Neutrality

What is Net Neutrality?

If you’re short on time, the Wikipedia entry touches both the basic and advanced thoughts on the topic. You can read the whole thing or cherry pick the sections for a quicker experience.

 

How Did This Argument Begin?

Another Wikipedia entry, but this is the court case that started this debate. Long story short, Verizon sued the FCC, claiming the FCC didn’t have the justification to regulate ISPs and telecoms under the FCC Open Internet Order 2010. Verizon won the case but opened their industry up to reclassification and additional regulations.

 

The Current FCC’s Position on Deregulation

Reason.com interviewed current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. In the 30 minute video, Pai explains why he believes the FCC should roll back the Title II regulations.

 

The Argument Against Deregulation

This piece argues against some major talking points used against Title II regulation. The piece also links out to examples of ISPs using secret data caps, throttling traffic, and giving their own services a boost over the competition. They were literally caught doing the things they said they wouldn’t do.

It’s long, but also has abbreviated answers if you’re pressed for time.

 

Major Brands Against Deregulation

Amazon and other tech companies planned a protest in an attempt to save the regulations. Other tech companies involved included Reddit, Kickstarter, Etsy, and Vimeo. Google, Facebook, and Netflix are also supporting the current regulations.

 

The Fight Gets Dirty

The FCC is allowing public comments on their plan on deregulating ISPs. But someone isn’t playing fair.  A bot was found submitting the same anti-net neutrality message using real people’s information.

In retaliation, someone created a service that allows users to find if their name and information has been used by the bot. Then Comcast sent them a C&D.

 

How To Comment On The FCC’s Proposal

This article from Techcrunch.com gives you a step-by-step instructions on how to comment on the FCC’s proposal. There’s also a pre-written message you can use if you’re having difficulty writing your own comment.

 

Tell The FCC What You Think

This is the FCC’s public commenting system. If you want to let the agency know what you think, click the link. To leave a comment, click “+New Filling” or “+Express.”  I’d recommend the Express option since it’s a shorter form. For your comment to be accepted, you have to fill out all fields and all the information you submit will be open to the public.

Video Transcript

We know you’re busy running a business and depending on your responsibilities outside of the office, you might be highly selective about how you spend your free time. Assuming, of course, you actually have free time.

I’m not here to tell you how to spend your down time, but there is one topic we think you should keep an eye on and that’s net neutrality.

Net neutrality has been in the news as of late and here’s why you should be paying attention to it.

Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should treat data and traffic on their network the same. Meaning you should be able to visit any site without interference from your internet provider.

It’s a simple idea with a complicated past and uncertain future. But it’s an important topic to be aware of since it affects everyone who uses the internet.

In 2015, the FCC classified internet providers as common carriers under title two of the telecommunications act. This lets the FCC enforce net neutrality making sure companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T aren’t blocking sites or throttling traffic on their networks.

But this may not last much longer. On May 18th, the FCC voted to proceed with scaling back their title two classification.

While the final vote is months away, if it’s passed, it could dramatically change how you use the internet in your professional and personal life.

Internet providers could throttle traffic to the sites or services that are direct competitors. Take Netflix and Hulu for example. Both services stream on-demand tv shows and original content.

Now Comcast owns approximately 30 percent of Hulu. Without the current rules, Comcast could throttle the data transfer speed between your computer and Netflix’s servers, making Netflix’s videos virtually unwatchable but you wouldn’t have any problems connecting to Hulu. By throttling traffic to Netflix’s servers, Comcast hopes you would ditch Netflix and sign up for a Hulu account, increasing Comcast’s bottom line.

Throttling isn’t the only thing ISPs could do. They could also block your access to any site on the web. Consider this – without these rules, ISPs could create bundled internet packages that mimic cable packages. They could create a multitude of bundled sites and depending on your subscription level, your access to sites and services could be limited to a pre approved list. a basic internet package might include email and some news sites, a social package could just be a few social networks in addition to email and news, and an entertainment package would add YouTube, Hulu, or Amazon Prime (video). And just like your cable subscription, these bundles would be offered at different rates.

And those bundled internet packages may kill your law firm’s website. If the cable companies or ISPs created these internet bundles, they could charge companies a fee for inclusion, meaning if you don’t pay up, then you won’t get any traffic to your site from their network. On top of your marketing budget, you might have to pay Comcast, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, t-mobile, Cox Communications, Time Warner, Centurylink or Charter just so people can get to your site.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. At different times, the ISPs have said they wouldn’t do this. But companies like Comcast, Charter, Time Warner and AT&T are annually on lists of the worst companies in America. And while they haven’t created the internet bundles yet, there are news stories online where ISPs have been caught throttling traffic to specific sites. So my question to you is do you trust them enough to take them at their word?

At the end of the day, without net neutrality rules in place, cable companies and ISPs could pick the winners and losers on the internet. A complete 180 from the level playing field it is today.

To be honest, we do have a biased opinion on net neutrality. We are for the current set of regulations because to us, without them there would be nothing to stop Comcast from creating their own marketing department and throttle traffic to our site, damaging our ability to reach new customers, and in worst case scenario, putting us out of business.

But we want you to make your own decision on net neutrality. We’ve compiled a list of articles and videos explaining net neutrality in more detail. We recommend that you read or watch them so you can be more informed on this topic.

And if you’ve already made up your mind about net neutrality, then you should let the FCC know. Currently, they are taking public comments on their site about the proposed deregulation. we’ve put the direct link below so you can share your thoughts with the FCC.

Ive purposefully skipped a lot of information about net neutrality in this video. Including everything about it would make this video longer than it already is. But if you have questions about net neutrality and how its repeal might affect your business, feel free to reach out.

Thanks for watching.

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