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Net Neutrality Protest Sees Significant Engagement

Net Neutrality Protest Sees Significant Engagement

Net neutrality is becoming a defining issue in 2014, but did you know it affects IT liability? Learn how to cover IT contractor risk as Internet laws change.

Thursday, September 18, 2014/Categories: consultant-liability

The Wall Street Journal reports net neutrality advocates coordinated a protest across the Internet that had companies like Netflix, Reddit, Mozilla, and others voicing their displeasure at the FTC. As a sign of protest, dozens of websites put a "spinning wheel" loading icon at the top of their pages, implying that net speeds would slow down if the FTC's proposed regulations went through as planned.

In addition to being a hot-button issue, net neutrality actually affects small businesses. Because many of your clients might have questions and concerns about this issue, let's examine what these protests mean, why they're occurring, and how changes in net neutrality could affect an IT consultant's liability.

What Is Net Neutrality and Why Is It an Issue?

As we reported in our post, "Net Neutrality Update: Time to Weigh In on FTC Rules," from the very first moment FTC chairman Tom Wheeler announced there would be new net regulations, Internet companies have been upset. Before a new court ruling changed the Internet landscape, ISPs weren't allowed to discriminate in regards to Web traffic. No matter what webpage users were trying to load, they would get full-throttle Internet sent to their routers.

However, a new ruling means that ISPs like Comcast can, in effect, create fast lanes and slow lanes for different users and websites. This ruling affects…

  • Video streaming and other sites that require lots of bandwidth.
  • Startup businesses that can't afford to pay for fast-lane bandwidth to send data to their customers.

Many people first learned about this issue because of the dispute between Netflix and various Web providers. Netflix streaming uses up so much of their capabilities that ISPs wanted the movie site to pay more to send data to its customers. However, FTC regulations didn't allow them to charge more.

But a new court ruling has changed all that. While the specifics of the new regulations are still being worked out, Chairman Wheeler has allowed ISPs to charge more for faster access and there's every indication that the FTC will continue to do so.

How Does Net Neutrality Affect IT Liability?

While net neutrality may seem like an academic issue, it could have an effect on the liability of IT consultants.

As a tech professional, you're responsible for doing your job well and recommending the right software and tech strategies for your clients. Now that ISPs can offer tiered Internet service, there's a new wrinkle in what you recommend to your clients.

Say one of your clients runs a streaming video website. Because of the demands this content places on bandwidth, if they don't have a top-speed ISP, they'll be limited in how much video they can send to users. If you inaccurately recommend an ISP (or a third-party SaaS or Web service that uses a slower ISP), you could be sued when it bottlenecks your client.

If a client sues you for outages, data loss, latency, and other issues with Web solutions, Professional Liability Insurance can cover your legal expenses. This coverage is crucial for IT consultants because, in addition to being required by IT contracts, it covers your liabilities even as the tech world changes and new regulations and technologies replace the old.

For free quotes on Professional Liability Insurance for IT companies, fill out an online insurance app.

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