In a huge development for millions of net neutrality advocates, President Obama has issued an unequivocal statement in support of net neutrality, calling on the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband internet access under Title II of the Telecommunciations Act. Here's his video statement:
Ever since the internet was created, it's been organized around the basic principles of openness, fairness, and freedom. There are no gatekeepers deciding which sites you get to access. There are no toll roads on the information super highway. This set of principles, the idea of net neutrality, has unleashed the power of the internet and given innovators the chance to thrive. Abandoning these principles would threaten to end the internet as we know it. That's why I'm laying out a plan to keep the internet free and open. That's why I'm urging the Federal Communications Commission to do everything they can to protect net neutrality for everyone. They should make it clear that whether you use a computer, phone, or tablet, internet providers have a legal obligation not to limit or block your access to a website. Cable companies can't decide which online stores you shop at, or which streaming services you can use. And they can't let any company pay for priority over its competitors.
To put these protections in place, I'm asking the FCC to reclassify internet service under Title II of the law known as the Telecommunications Act. In plain English, I'm asking them to recognize that for most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.
The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately the decision is theirs alone. But the public has already commented nearly four million times, asking the FCC to make sure that consumers, not the cable companies, get to decide which sites they use. Americans are making their voices heard, standing up for the principles that make the internet a powerful force for change. As long as I'm president, that's what I'll be fighting for, too.
His written statement is no less unequivocal: "the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act." He lays out a plan with four key requirements: 1) no blocking to a website or service that's providing legal content to consumers; 2) no throttling of content—ISPs can't slow down some content, or speed up other content; 3) transparency at every point on the internet for both consumers and also between "points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet"; and 4) no paid prioritization—ISPs cannot charge more for faster access, or put content providers who don't pay more on a slow lane. This is a strong repudiation of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's latest proposal. This is a very big deal as the FCC moves into the final weeks before it issues its new rules.


Gloria Dulan-Wilson