It seems all anyone’s talking about in terms of online policy these days is Facebook’s privacy kerfluffle. Which is kind of a big deal, but small potatoes, really, when compared to the really big, burning, important issue of the day: net neutrality.
This critical issue may not be at the forefront of news, opinion columns and debate in the media, but the fact that digital marketers and e-commerce providers are ignoring it is as baffling as it is inexcusable. The major broadband providers: Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner want to tax content providers. They want to determine what sites their subscribers can access, and how quickly – giving priority, of course, to their own products and services.
They want to continue to charge some of the world’s highest prices
for broadband. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development a monthly broadband subscription in the US costs, on
average, about $8 for each advertised megabit per second. In the UK it
costs $1.98, in Japan $2.33.
Go elsewhere? It’s likely
there’s only one provider in your area, unless you live in a major
What about you? If you’re an advertiser, will a telco-controlled internet provide you with the data you need to run effective camapigns? Will broadband providers throttle access to your online storefront? If you’re a publisher (and these days, who isn’t?), will access to your content be cut off if you don’t render unto the Big Four? If they block or choke the traffic to your site, how can you convince advertisers to buy your inventory?
Does this all sound worst-case scenario? It is. It’s also very, very real. This week, 74 House Democrats joined 37 Senate Republicans and signed a letter telling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to halt all efforts to protect Internet users and to stop big companies from blocking Internet traffic. In doing so, they broke with President Obama who camapigned on the issue of net neutrality and is still a staunch supporter. Oh, and virtually all the signers have accepted enormous campaign contributions from the anti-net neutrality telco lobby.
Net neutrality is a critical issue not just for consumers, and not just because it keeps this country’s dominant system of communication free and open, but because of its economic impact. If you’re reading this it’s likely that you, like me, make your living at least in part from the open internet.
So why aren’t you doing anything about it? I’ve been asking marketers this question since 2006. It’s baffling that our industry trade organizations: the IAB, DMA, AAAA and ARF, aren’t taking a stand and rallying their members around this critical cause.
Why don’t digital marketers care about net neutrality? What, aside from signing petitions, might they do to protect the web from a corporate takeover? Where are the protests when a company such as Apple winds up making exclusive deals for the iPhone and iPad with AT&T, the company that not only invented the concept of anti-net neutrality but also the one leading the charge with the most egregious forms of astroturfing?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.