Obama Takes Position In The Battle For The Internet

The future of the free and fair internet is at stake

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The internet hasn’t just changed a generation, it has changed the world. Making good on his key campaign promise in technology, President Obama made a video this Monday that endorsed net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the idea of a free and fair internet, that, according to the Whitehouse, protects “an entrepreneur's fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student's blog shouldn't be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money”.

Obama is advocating a reclassification of the internet under Title II as a utility, similar to water, which would mean that internet providers simply provide the internet, and don’t make any decisions in regard to it.

Firstly, it is important to note that the Federal Communications Commision is an independent agency, and it is their decision alone, which he acknowledges in his video. However, Obama is advocating a reclassification of the internet under Title II as a utility, similar to water, which would mean that internet providers simply provide the internet, and don’t make any decisions in regard to it. As The Verge reports, this is quite controversial to service providers because “It means that they're losing some control over what they sell, and that they can't favor certain services to benefit their own business. Instead, providers would be stuck allowing consumers to use the internet as they want to, using whatever services they like without any penalty. If that sounds pretty great, it's because that's basically how the internet has worked up until now”.

Obama’s video is making great strides for net neutrality supports, which, as cited in USA Today,  support the idea that phone and cable companies “will not be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online”. The FCC is currently attempting to renegotiate the regulations because the original protections were struck down in court earlier this year, in the Verizon vs. FCC’s Open Internet order.  

The FCC is currently attempting to renegotiate the regulations because the original protections were struck down in court earlier this year, in the Verizon vs. FCC’s Open Internet order.  

Obama’s written statement, calls for the FCC to classify the internet as a telecommunications service, which would subject the internet providers with regulations. Additionally, he mentions that it is necessary to enforce “No blocking”, which would allow all users to to view any website that is legal. Obama also urges that there should be “No throttling”, or the idea that the ISPs can intentionally slow down some websites based on the content you’re looking at, or the ISPs preference. Also outlined is the idea of increased transparency, and lastly, urged for no paid prioritization, or that no user should be given a slow internet service or “slow lane” because they refuse to pay a fee.

If you’re reading this article and thinking all of these things sound like good ideas, but unremarkable, it’s because until now, this is how the internet has behaved. But by the end of the year, it is likely the FCC will have come to, what they are calling a “hybrid approach”, which would place heavy regulations but still allow a paid prioritization.