Thursday, January 30, 2014

Net neutrality ruling has uncertain consequences

Recently, the DC Circuit struck down what many see as the essential bed-rock of the modern internet: net neutrality.

Put simply, net neutrality is the idea that service providers can't favor one type of traffic or one type of website over another.  After this decision (which, of course, will likely go before the Supreme Court in the not-so-distant future), this may change, so providers might charge content producers (and thus, ultimately, consumers) more to stream a movie or play an online game.

More disturbing, to at least some watchers, is that service providers could, in theory at least, deny or redirect traffic to websites of its choosing.

For attorneys, especially smaller firms, this could be significant - what if, say, a competitor paid service providers to direct traffic meant for your website to theirs?  Or a service provider forced attorneys to pay more to access sites like PACER?

It will be very interesting to see how things play out in this case and if consumer expectations will curtail the worse potential consequences if the decision is not overturned by SCOTUS.