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article imageObama says White House expects FCC to uphold net neutrality

By Karla Lant     Oct 11, 2014 in Internet
At a town hall-type meeting Thursday in Southern California, Pres. Barack Obama said his administration “expects” the FCC to maintain net neutrality, and to prevent Internet service providers from offering multiple tiers of service.
Obama also restated his support for the equal treatment of all Internet traffic and data and his opposition to paid prioritization of service at startup incubator Cross Campus:
“I made a commitment very early on that I am unequivocally committed to net neutrality. I think it is what has unleashed the power of the Internet and we don't want to lose that or clog up the pipes. My appointee, [FCC Chairman] Tom Wheeler, knows my position.. . .[T]he White House has been clear. . .that we expect whatever final rules to emerge to make sure that we're not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet.”
For the complete video with Obama's remarks, click here.
Earlier this year the FCC introduced new proposed regulations that, if passed, would allow Internet service providers to charge “high use” websites like Facebook or Netflix more to operate at higher speeds. This tiered system would create what consumer and net neutrality advocates decry as an Internet fast lane.
It isn't only consumer and net neutrality advocates that stand against the proposed FCC regulations, however. Numerous tech companies have opposed the would-be regulations, which would force smaller Internet companies that can't or won't pay the premium rates providers' demand into the slow lane.
The public is also unhappy with the proposed regulations—and “unhappy” is a bit of an understatement. The FCC has received more than 3 million public comments on the issue. To put this level of public outrage in context, previous to the net neutrality debate the FCC had received just under 2,000 comments at most on any one issue.
Critics of the FCC's proposal agree that the regulations as proposed would lead to a tiered Internet that benefits those who can pay the most. The largest telecommunications corporations would likely come out on top of such a scheme. Consumer advocates and many tech companies are demanding that the FCC instead reclassify Internet service providers as public utilities to address the tiered service issue.
This statement by Obama in support of net neutrality is in line with his 2008 campaign position, although he did not take an active role in the debate until this August when he attended the U.S. Africa Business Forum. At that event he delivered a speech in which he reiterated his position:
“One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers.. . .You have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more but then also charge more for more spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster or what have you.. . .[T]he position of my administration, as well as I think a lot of companies here is you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various users.”
Wheeler, previously a lobbyist to the telecommunications industry, was nominated to the FCC by Obama last year. He has said in the past that he opposes paid prioritization.
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