Obama Touts His Support for Net Neutrality and Innovation
The president said that the Internet should be equally accessible to everyone, without having so-called fast lanes to only serve users who pay for faster access than others.President Obama took a strong stand on net neutrality earlier this week when he told reporters at a business forum that an Internet that is equitably available to all is one that will allow the most innovation and fairness. "One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers," Obama told the reporters gathered at a business forum for African leaders in Washington on Aug. 5, according to a story in The Washington Post. "That's the big controversy here. So you have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster. I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don't want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users. You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed." The president's comments came as the issue of net neutrality continues to be a focus of government and public discussion. In July, a 60-day public comment period by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ended as the agency collected more comments on net neutrality discussions, according to an earlier eWEEK report. In January, a U.S. District Court dismissed the FCC's ability to enforce net neutrality—an FCC guiding principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. Since then, and amid much debate, the Commission has been working to put new, enforceable rules in place.
On May 15, the Commission voted 3-2 in favor of Chairman Tom Wheeler's Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking—a new rules proposal. While the proposal insists that no Internet service provider (ISP) can purposefully slow down any type of traffic, it allows for the controversial possibility that companies, under "commercially reasonable" terms, could pay for extra-fast service. With the vote—which didn't confirm the proposal, but moved forward the task of establishing firm rules—Wheeler reopened the window for public comment and was met with historic levels of response. The FCC did not release exact counts of the responses they received, but they apparently crashed the site under the strain.