Vanick Digital Software Architect, Brandon Dahler, is featured in the Memphis Business Journal regarding Net Neutrality.
According to Merriam-Webster, net neutrality is the idea, principle or requirement that Internet Service Providers [ISPs] should or must treat all Internet data as the same, regardless of its kind, source or destination.
On Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rolled back net neutrality rules that were put in place by the government agency in 2015. Those rules forbid ISPs from the blocking, throttling and paid prioritization — so-called web "fast lanes" — of particular applications, content providers or web sites. Since then, attorney generals from 18 states, including Mississippi and the District of Columbia, wrote to the FCC asking it to "immediately delay consideration of its 'Restoring Internet Freedom' proposal."
But what would the repeal mean to local businesses and tech companies?
Vanick software architect, Brandon Dahler, does not expect the change to affect that business directly, either, but said Vanick would be affected in indirect ways.
"First is the customer/consumer front. If the service providers decide to start modifying the prioritization of traffic or begin limiting access to internet resources that we host or that we use, on the end-user side, we could begin to have intermittent performance or accessibility issues that would necessarily be hard to detect and even harder to resolve," Dahler said. "Second is the backend/hosting front. If the service providers decide to start affecting the hand-off of traffic between service providers and/or subsidiaries thereof, it is feasible for hosting providers to … be forced to pay what is essentially a ransom to be able to provide the same level of service that they do today, in effect raising our bottom line costs for hosting for no extra value."
Dahler predicted that non-technology businesses could start noticing their websites acting slow sometimes, especially during peak hours, with smaller hosting providers telling them they're unable to correct the problem unless they pay for a better package.
"This will be especially evident on sites that have videos or high resolution pictures," Dahler said. "Business that deal in any kind of controversial content may find that they are suddenly being blacklisted or otherwise restricted to the general public by ISPs in some places without them being aware or notified about it. For technology companies that deal directly with ISPs, I fully expect them to be approached by their ISP, demanding pay-to-play on their network or risk a loss of stability."
Overall, Dahler said that removing consumer protections is dangerous, given how reliant society has become on the internet.
"In the same way that we expect water provided by the utility company to be of a certain quality — vetted and ensured by the government — we should expect access to the internet meets a standardized quality," Dahler said. "While all of the risks and examples I’ve given are theoretical in nature, these concerns are real possibilities without the 'no blocking,' 'no throttling' and 'no paid prioritization' sections of the 47 CFR 8 regulations. Arguments are made that these won’t affect the average consumer because the balance provided by competition in capitalism will prevent the worst of the worst from happening. I don’t think these arguments take into account the back-scatter caused when you look at entities that interact but are not customers of a given service provider."
"There is zero competitive incentive," Dahler continued, "preventing a service provider from going to a non-customer company — for instance, Netflix — and saying, 'Pay us or we de-prioritize you.' I can say this with confidence because that is literally what happened in 2014. In fact, I’d argue that capitalism compels the service providers to do just this. Why would they connect their customer to you for free when they could get away with charging you a fee?"
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