With the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to repeal net neutrality regulations, companies are attempting to forecast how the new landscape will affect their business operations. This has put general counsels (GCs) in a precarious position; they are being asked to advise their companies on the potential effects of the deregulation with limited guidance or experience on what internet service providers will actually do following the repeal.
In a recent Law360 feature on the impact of net neutrality, the authors noted that GCs should be aware of the following:
- All Businesses Can Be Impacted. Business in practically every industry is increasingly conducted online. Thus, any change to online access policies by service providers will affect all businesses in some capacity.
- Online Customer Interactions Could Suffer. If the changes to net neutrality slow a company’s website, it can adversely affect user experience. Smaller businesses could be put in a competitive disadvantage from higher costs to acquire the top-tier internet speed.
- Online Data Storage May Become Cost-Prohibitive. If costs of top-tier internet service increases, the ability of companies to access data that has been stored in cloud-based solutions will also increase. If that occurs, it could lead companies to revert to storing frequently accessed data on-site to lower costs.
- Avoid Public Stances. Net neutrality is a political hot-button issue and companies should use caution when discussing this issue as any stance risks alienating customers on either side. This is particularly important as participants in this debate appear eager to impact corporate reputations through social media activism.
Tech & Sourcing @ Morgan Lewis will continue to track this and other impacts of the net neutrality repeal during the coming months.