Net neutrality matters to all of us – particularly digital marketers

It’s rare to see the internet’s biggest players putting their competitive differences aside to unite over a common issue. But that’s just what took place yesterday. Netflix, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Reddit all took part in a protest against the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposals for deregulation.

So, what is at stake? Net neutrality – a principle which requires ISPs to treat all data on the internet the same. It means that ISPs can’t use their infrastructure to give some players a competitive advantage over their competitors. They shouldn’t be able to make some sites and services load faster than others.

“Net neutrality ensures that the free market – not big cable – picks the winners and losers,” said Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis Ohanian. “We’ve been here before, and this time we’re facing even worse odds.”

As part of yesterday’s day of action, some websites voluntarily slowed down their services. This was to show users what they can expect in the future, should the FCC’s proposed changes take effect.

But if net neutrality was limited in America, what would that mean for us here in the UK? And how would digital marketers be affected?

How is net neutrality protected in the UK?

Fortunately, we have been covered under EU legislation on Open Internet Access since October 2015. Before this, the UK only had a voluntary system.

In a recent interview with Sky News, Ed Johnson-Williams, a campaigner at Open Rights Group, described the EU’s net neutrality rules as “some of the strongest net neutrality protections in the world.”

But let’s not be complacent. Brexit may have an impact on net neutrality in the UK as EU laws are repealed. This is an issue that will need to be monitored closely once the realities of our departure from the EU begin to kick in.

What would the end of net neutrality mean for digital marketers?

This would mean data would be relegated to fast and slow lanes. ISPs would give preference to those big players that they have vested interests in. So what does that mean for the rest of us? If you wanted to move from the slow to the fast lane, you’d need to pay a premium to do so.

If you’re advertising on a website that’s paying for premium bandwidth, this extra cost will most likely be subsidised by you.

Likewise with social media platforms – users access these sites for free, and these business models are unlikely to change. So guess who would be subsidising this added expense? You guessed it – advertisers. In other words – you.

We’ll be following developments with interest. We believe that fairness in the online world is an ideal worth fighting for.


Christian Taylor is a writer and digital marketer and a member of the VKN Digital team. VKN Digital is a digital marketing agency in Hertfordshire, UK. We aim to help SMEs overcome marketing hurdles and create compelling digital content that drives results. Need help creating and launching a native advertising campaign? How about assistance with SEO or social media? Please contact us for a free Skype consultation.

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