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Gini Dietrich

Is Net Neutrality About to Become a Thing of the Past?

By: Gini Dietrich | August 10, 2010 | 
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Well, the news that Google and Verizon are conspiring against net neutrality was announced, and diffused, yesterday morning when the two companies did indeed meet with regulators, but to to enact laws preventing carriers from blocking websites or selectively delaying access to content common on the Internet today, while leaving the door open for private “specialized networks” down the line. The meeting was not about “allowing Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege,” as the New York Times and, subsequently, the Huffington Post , reported.

Interestingly enough, though, the New York Times is standing behind its story. Which makes you wonder…is net neutrality about to become a thing of the past?

I know, I know. This isn’t a tech blog and believe me when I say I don’t fully understand what Google and Verizon are claiming to do by meeting with regulators. But what I do understand is what a non-net neutrality Internet can do for business as we know it today.

One of the things I love about commnicating online is it completely levels the playing field. A high school student in Sweden knows he wants to go into PR and connects with industry leaders around the world. A sales person knows she has the perfect widget for a company and build relationships with decision makers through social tools before making the pitch. And a small company is able to compete with its large counterparts without spending as much money for the same awareness.

But what the credible media are reporting, and Google and Verizon are denying, is that you soon could pay to have your content delivered more quickly.

So ends net neutrality in which no form of content is favored over another…an open Internet that allows us to decide which companies are successful, no matter their size or how much money they spend. And so ends the level playing field.

If this is true, and it goes through, the way we conduct business is forever changed. What happens to Twitter and Facebook? What about blogs and search engine optimization?  What about ecommerce and online shopping? And the way we easily update photos and videos for all to see? How will the Davids compete with the Goliaths if they have to pay to use the web?

While there are things you can do, as consumers, to save the Internet (there is a petition online), begin to think about how you currently conduct business on the web and what a Google/Verizon deal might do to your goals. If the web does go the way of Big Business, a lot of us are going to have to quickly change the way we communicate.  What are you going to do?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

8 comments
Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I've been thinking a lot about this issue, and reading as much as I can on the topic, in the past week. The fact of the matter is, exactly what Jon points out...our content is going to be delivered more quickly if a) a company pays for the right and b) we pay for a higher tier of Internet. The two issues I have with that are it takes away the level playing field we've all become accustomed to having and it takes something we've all had for free and charges us for it. I would feel differently if Google and Verizon weren't already making money...but they both do and this is just another move toward Global Domination before I get there!

JohnRobbins
JohnRobbins

If controlling Net Neutrality can provide a company or a select few companies, with control of some of the major needs of the masses, and make those companies billions upon billions of dollars, then Net Neutrality will! become a thing of the past in some areas.
Guess what? A select few companies ARE! going to gain control of Net Neutrality.
But it won't mean the end of life as we know it. Some things related to the net will just cost more.
I wish for all of you a more peaceful view of life by way of encouraging you to stop and realize..this kind of stuff only adds stress to your day. And there is nothing you can do about it once the select few companies get control of the part of Net Neutrality that they want to get control of.
For now we can complain and bother our selves with the subject and create stress for ourselves and those that will join in with our worries and complaints.
But in the end the select few companies will win.
Let Them Win Now. And Add A Little Peace To Soul. Let Go! you'll fell better. Get on with the more important things. You know what they are.
JohnRobbins

Jan Beery
Jan Beery

I understand and agree with Paul on what is coming out of D.C. and am on the boat of not too happy with working hard so I can make it "fair" for someone who has not chosen to do the same. With two son's serving our country for the protection of our freedom, I'm ready, as are many others to continue to stand up for what is right. Freedom isn't free and neither should anyone else's "right" to what they see as "fair" compensation for zero contribution.
We are all clearly engaged, strong, innovative and aggressively motivated. I'm confident we won't just stand by. As my Dad (an old Chicagoan) used to say, "vote early and vote often!

Paul Edgewater
Paul Edgewater

I learned a long time ago to not judge legislation by what it's called. Law makers will always give a pieces of legislation a name that is hard to vote against for the opposing party. I could be wrong, but I believe that "net neutrality" is a euphemism. What it actually is, is a net version of the now-defunct "fairness" doctrine for radio. We all know that that was euphony at it's best, as it was a method of censorship by the government, to regulate the content on the airwaves. Net neutrality is the same thing. If net neutrality goes into effect, EVERY website posting that proports any point of view, will have to post (with equal conspicuousness) a differing point of view and must hyperlink to it. This will apply to every website, from political sites to commercial sites. One could argue that on the surface, this may be a good thing in the political arena, but it's not. It represents the loss of freedom. In the business arena, it is a disaster. As a business, we will be compelled to link to our competitor's websites-legally. We will all be forced to promote our competition. If you are selling your condo, you will have to link to all the comps in the neighborhood, given everyone equal time on YOUR site and listing.
At best, net neutrality is another way our beloved government caters to the lowest common denominator. At worst, it is among the largest encroachments on our liberties as American citizens.
The bottom line is that nothing in life is "fair" fairness can't be-and shouldn't be-legislated. If company "A" busts its butt for years and becomes the dominant player in an industry, why on earth should company "B" benefit from the toil of company "A"? The fairness doctrine will suck the life out of the truly industrious people in our society. What possible motivation will there be to be great, when that greatness will be squashed and spread around to make it "fair"? The "fairness" in this doctrine will be in the form of knocking everyone DOWN to the same level, not elevating everyone UP to the same level. It will be the end of the entrepreneur and subsequently, the end of innovation and the upward spiral of civilization.
That's just my opinion. Again, I could be wrong. But I will stand by my opinion until it is demonstrated that I am wrong. That said, I want to be wrong, for as I understand it to be, net neutrality is one of the scariest, Orwellian things to come out of D.C. in a generation.

Grayson
Grayson

Create an alternate "internet". There is no reason that we can't.

The internet is a giant connection of computers. Create a parallel one.

Jon S.
Jon S.

I like your summary Gini. My main issue is with my prospects for leveraging my market power to keep things fair.

People are fond of saying the market will keep this fair, but take my scenario: I own a condo, I will be living in said condo for a long time; I have no option other than 1 for my internet connection because the developers entered a deal with the ISP. Therefore, I have no way to "inform" the market that they should be cognizant of my content concerns. I can't switch. My concerns and thoughts can be completely disregarded.

In many markets, there is no market feedback loop in place to ensure ISP's do not become bad actors.

This is only one of several issues developing out of straying from the net neutrality model -- which is clearly why we need net neutrality -- because there will be no "issues" if it can simply be agreed that all content is treated equally.

Rick
Rick

My first response is a "thank you" because that's the clearest most concise explanation of this I've seen. Second though, I would hope that it wouldn't change much. People would have to learn that "faster" doesn't necessarily mean "better in this online space - just like we've learned that number of twitter followers doesn't necessarily translate to influence or reach. I think either way, the market in this case might level itself out. Or at least that's what I would hope.

Jon S.
Jon S.

Paul, I am afraid you completely misunderstand the entire issue. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything like a fairness doctrine and is not related to any political stripe.

Net neutrality is exactly the opposite of what you describe. For one thing, it is not a piece of legislation, but rather a position on how the bits and bytes of the internet are treated by the ISPs as regulated by the FCC.

There is NO CONTENT REGULATION with regard to net neutrality and website content -- it is ALL about the DELIVERY of the content.

I am not sure how you turned this into a screed against liberals, but you really need to read up on the issue as it has absolutely no relation to what you described.

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  2. […] been pretty outspoken about the need to maintain net neutrality for several months now. I’ve blogged about it and, when I speak, I advise business leaders to pay careful attention to the rulings. I even […]