Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A quick break from the basics

This news is too important not to share at least some of it right off the bat:

According to an ABC News article, a U.S. Federal Appeals court has sided with the telecoms and against the FCC on key net neutrality legislation.  The basic gist of what happened earlier today is that the courts decided that the FCC has no authority to stop any quality of service (QOS - see yesterday's post for more info) from happening on telecom controlled broadband.  In other words, the FCC is not allowed to stop telecoms and other broadband providers from giving preferential treatment (including completely blocking access) to specific online content or actions (such as BitTorrent downloads - I'll do a post about torrents at some point down the line if you aren't to knowledgeable on them).  

A lot of the court's ruling seems to be based on two things right now.  First, back in 2005 the FCC deregulated broadband essentially allowing for it to be owned, controlled and operated by the internet service providers (ISPs - can mean groups like Google and yahoo as they are providing an internet service, but in this post assume it's anyone providing an internet connection like AT&T or Comcast) who use them today.  The other aspect is that government agencies like the FCC don't have the rule of law on their side (though they're trying to change that through actual net neutrality legislation).  What they have is essentially the power to recommend when it comes to most internet activity as net neutrality is nothing more than a principle, not law. There is plenty more if you are interested in the political side of things and it can be read here.

I would like to shift real quick to talk about what this means for marketers without spoiling too many of my future posts or getting ahead of what I expect most marketers currently understand about the issue.  I will expand on all of this in future posts, but , basically, if internet remains regulated by the ISPs and not the government as this court decision leans, certain sites and the subsequent advertisements could be entirely inaccessible by large segments marketers are targeting. This is especially interesting, in my opinion, for the marketers employed by ISPs as their online campaigns could be getting screwed by the very legislation they are supporting (in this case it's actually a lack of legislation they are supporting, but you get what I'm saying).

Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way trying to sway your opinion of net neutrality.  If the FCC gains control over and subsequent capabilities to regulate the internet, there are any of a million scenarios that could equally hinder a marketer's ability to effectively communicate and market online.  This is likely especially true of e-mail marketing since it takes more of a direct and sometimes invasive approach to communicating with customers (think do not call registry only likely stronger as there will be proof of people getting contacted by companies).

Which is right and which is wrong?  I have absolutely no idea and probably never will (actually I feel like both sides are wrong, but I digress).  I encourage anyone to follow this story and comment to let me know if I'm missing anything or if they think I'm getting something wrong here.


  1. I should mention that it kinda sounds overwhelmingly in favor of net neutrality the way I put it up there...the way I see it and what keeps me honest in this whole thing is it's easy to not trust companies, but no matter what your political leanings are, eventually someone else will be in charge...so its equally scary to me I promise

  2. Hey man, I saw your post over in Fark and decided to head over here to check it out, just to give you some background, im currently a Communications Major with a minor in marketing in Pace NYC. Anyway, just to be on the level, personally I hate the idea of net neutrality. In a marketing perspective however, its even worse. Suddenly there is another gate to go through to get the message out. You mentioned Email, but lets be honest, most spam filters are advanced enough to filter most ads out, I cant remember the last Ad I got on GMail, nigerian king or otherwise. But this is bad news for marketeers everywhere, its also highly uncompetitive, its going to be a bidding war. However, I think it will have one positive note, part of being in marketing and something that I feel is lacking in todays companies is a more personal touch, I think that if this Net Neutrality (or anti-neutrality) comes to pass, we are going to have to step up our game to create a better relationship with our customers, more direct communication, deals for long term clients etc. A direction I feel we should be heading in anyway. The real trick is how to be both effective but subtle in how we communicate, phone calls are invasive, emails are annoying etc.

    I am far from king on the topic, after all im just a humble student presently, with at the most two summers of being an intern. So if I seem uninformed I apologize. Also english is my second language, so if I made any mistakes, sorry for that too.

  3. I don't mind you trying to sway me at all Seamus. That's kind of the point of a good blog. I think I've heard that before somewhere ... anyway, the idea of net neutrality is clearly just a way to protect consumers, is it not?

    Isn't that what we expect from a blue White House? So I would think the Feds must be hopping mad about this one.

    But of course, it's not all written in stone ... yet.

    Rob Mark