Many of us buy premium gas at gas stations, premium seats on airlines, premium upgrades at hotels and premium groceries at boutique retailers. If individuals or their respective businesses are willing to pay for a premium service, why would anyone oppose it?
I ask this question as we await a ruling from the FCC as it relates allowing higher speed Internet ‘fast lanes’ for certain subscribers. According to the proposal that is being considered, consumers can pay Internet service providers for a higher-speed Internet connection. But whatever speed they choose, under the new rules, they might get some content faster, depending on what the content provider has paid for. What’s the difference here? Service Providers are in the business of selling services and their customers, and these customers are likely to purchase those premium services in order to gain the competitive advantage.
With all of the buzz as of late, regarding the net-neutrality vs the Internet fast-lane opportunity, some are in agreement that is makes sense while others oppose the principle, and here’s why:
Let’s highlight a key component of net neutrality; the concept of lawful content. According to the FCC website www.fcc.gov the following is found, “The principle of the Open Internet is sometimes referred to as 'net neutrality'." Under this principle, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what lawful content they want to access, create, or share with others. This openness promotes competition and enables investment and innovation.”
Lawful content is exactly what it is – lawful. Now we all know that child pornography would be considered unlawful content and does not fall under any kind of net neutrality ruling, but what about cyber-attacks? Is a cyber-attack lawful content? I doubt it, and I think many would agree; cybercrime is simply unlawful.
This begs another to question, If companies would be willing to purchase a fast-lane, would they also be willing to buy a secure-lane, or in other words, a lawful lane? Many in the industry believe companies as well as individual consumers would.
Unlawful content (cyber-attacks in this case) is costing consumers of Internet bandwidth billions of dollars per year here in the United States alone. According to a report from The Center for Strategic and International Studies (2013), the authors attempt to use several different methods of calculating the costs of cybercrime. From the report, “using a ‘pilferage’ approach that assumed the same rate of loss for malicious cyber activity would put the upper limit somewhere between 0.5% and 2% of national income. For the U.S., this would be $70 billion to $280 billion”.
Maybe it’s time to investigate the ability to offer a clean-lane or secure lane as in addition to, or conjunction with a fast-lane, and put some of those billions back into the pockets of the consumer.
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