Many believe in having a healthy internet. There should be net neutrality at its core.
Net neutrality made headlines again when Donald Trump became President and started to undo Obama-era regulations. With this, Trump appointee, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, became the chairman of the FCC in 2017 and repealed net neutrality protections.
So far, with the many instances of the Internet having its big day in court, the web is now back to neutral as far as US Congress is concerned, they have restored net neutrality protections with the Save the Internet Act of 2019.
However, unbeknownst to some, net neutrality has been a hot topic since the 1990s. So what in the world does net neutrality even mean?
What is Net Neutrality?
The premise of net neutrality is actually very simple. It is a principle that states that governments should require companies who provide internet services (or internet service providers [ISPs]) to treat all data that is being transmitted over their infrastructure without prejudice.
Net neutrality acts as a safety net against the self-interest of companies. You don’t want ISPs giving much thought to what your surfing and how many times you’ve been to a particular website.
With the absence of Net Neutrality regulations, ISPs can impact how we use the Internet in a number of ways. For example, between Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, you don’t want ISPs substituting their preferred movie provider over your own personal choice. They may choose to speed up Amazon prime streaming while slowing down Netflix. That’s a bummer! So much for Netflix and chill, right?
But the public wants none of that.
Some states in the US have started to put up their own net neutrality laws, but we still have to wait and see if the entire federal government follows suit or will be repealed again. So far, the Save the Internet Act of 2019 is putting those protections in pace. However, you can’t tell after with the upcoming major elections if those protections will hold.
Net neutrality is not a technology filtering issue. It’s more of social and political maneuvering that throttles between the antitrust and fair-play competition laws in the US.
This Affects You Even If You're Not in the US
Let’s say you do business in Eastern Europe, but you have servers in the United States, this still allows major companies there to speed up or slow down your usage depending on your payment plan. This is still dependent on your server providers’ negotiations with their data provider. However, it still has the possibility of affecting you.
If anti-net neutrality legislation is not fully repealed, we might see cases where servers will start charging more based on the content that is passing through their networks.
Without net neutrality, the Telcos and IT companies can decide who can have the most access or no access at all. It will be a new whole era of forced URL redirection, content-blocking, and competitor lock-out.
Having Servers in New Zealand
Net neutrality though quite controversial in the United States will eventually impact New Zealand one way or the other, and it is a pertinent issue that the government should keep an eye out for. With the NZ Telecommunications Act up for review every five years, politicians can be put up to date with the latest net neutrality issues and address the limits of what ISPs can or cannot do specifically.
Of course, there is also the issue of speed. For instance, if a majority of your traffic comes from the US, then it is important to have local servers able to minimize latency and speed up loading times. This will cost more money and have users subjected to any active anti-net neutrality legislation that is still apparent there.
How does this Impact your Web Presence?
Web servers have to be close enough to the people that they are servicing, though it can be unavoidable to have servers based in the US. The only way you can fix this issue is to minimize the hosting that you are using that’s in the US whenever possible. If you can find hosting locally, then that will mean minimal costs. The issue here is not the current costs that you are paying for but rather how much you could potentially be paying in the future. Business owners should also start looking for options that can be used to host mirror sites of their web property.
If we want innovation to flourish, the Internet needs to be open and not controlled by a few. We want global safeguards in place and laws with a neutral stance looking after the future of the Internet.
We at 1768degrees.com believe in net neutrality. We have committed to minimising any disruption by committing to New Zealand servers and ensuring that wherever possible we are doing our bit to protect our customers and everyone from political decisions that could change the way individuals find information on the internet.