Obama’s Vote for Net Neutrality – Implications for SEO

Net NeutralityRecent moves by President Obama would have positive implications for search engine optimization if they materialize.

The Intention of Net Neutrality

Net neutrality could receive a boost with President Obama’s latest expression of a desire to see the Internet being classified as a utility. In his video from the White House, Obama states that he is against Internet service providers regulating the Internet activity of their customers, a view apparently held by many Americans. Obama has placed the request to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to get the Internet reclassified as a utility so that more stringent regulations can be laid out by the organization to protect the neutrality of the net and freedom for net users. This would recognize the Internet as an essential element of daily life for Americans, like gas, water or electricity. This could have a big impact on search engine optimization. As net neutrality puts all Internet companies on the same status, it would help encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

Such a classification would also mean that Internet providers would not be authorized to provide faster connections to companies such as Google or Netflix who could pay for fast lanes online. President Obama believes this would help open up the Internet even more and enable it to be offered with same underlying philosophy determining any information transmission provider such as a telephone service provider.

President Obama’s Points

Obama’s statement basically has three points:

  • No intentional speeding up or slowing down of certain websites
  • No more blocking of websites with legal content
  • No paid prioritization

Obama wants Title II to be used as the means of enforcing regulation, something which the FCC has not done till now because of which the earlier protections proposed by the organization had been opposed in court. Title II will give it the authority to make rules for protecting net neutrality.

The Great Internet Equality Debate

The debate as to whether all Internet traffic must be treated equally has been raging for quite some time. This obviously would not be favored by service providers since they would no longer be able to control what they sell or give preferences to some services for benefiting their business. Title II classification would mean that Internet providers would merely channel the Internet to their consumers like pipes supplying water to consumers or cables supplying electricity.

The ball is now in the FCC’s court, and the big question is whether the organization would incorporate the President’s directives. The FCC has already been involved in measures to ensure Net neutrality, and Obama’s suggestions could give it the political support it needs to make the measures more potent. But before that the Congress would have to approve the measures, which does seem doubtful with the Republicans appearing to be against such moves.

President Obama in his White House speech clearly used the leverage of the "nearly 4 million times" the public expressed their desire for Net neutrality to try convincing the FCC to implement his measures. But he did accept that ultimately it was for the FCC and the FCC "alone" to make the decision.

FCC’s "Hybrid" Approach

A proposal had been thought of earlier by the FCC in terms of a "hybrid" approach which would basically categorize Internet services into regulated and deregulated categories. It would involve placing stringent regulations on the interconnect points while allowing some fast lanes for consumers. It would basically be a division of commercial and residential Internet traffic favoring companies such as Netflix.

A Title II classification though would prove be more comprehensive in its regulatory nature, but it remains to be seen which path the FCC would tread. Regardless of the course the FCC takes, search engine optimization companies and Internet marketing experts will be all eyes and ears.