Why Net Neutrality Is Important For Law Firms

We know you’re busy running a business
and depending on your responsibilities outside 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 downtime 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 enforced 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 videos 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 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, an entertainment package would add
YouTube, Hulu or Amazon Prime and just like your cable subscriptions 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 ATT are annually on list of the worst companies in
America and while they haven’t created the internet bundles yet, there are new
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’re 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’re taking public comments on their site about the proposed deregulation. We
put the direct link below so you can share your thoughts with the FCC. I
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 may affect your business, feel free to reach out. Thanks for watching.

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