President Barack Obama has already voiced his support for net neutrality in recent months, but today the U.S. president offered a specific plan for protecting the open Internet. The White House unveiled its strategy with a new YouTube video and a blog post on Medium.
“‘Net neutrality’ has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas,” President Obama said. “That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”
The fate of net neutrality will ultimately be decided by the Federal Communications Commission, an independent government agency that Obama can’t control. Instead, all he can do is suggest the FCC establish new rules to protect net neutrality. The president offers four main guidelines: no blocking legal content, no throttling, no “Fast Lane” system, and increased transparency for Internet service providers.
Obama also argues that the FCC should reclassify broadband Internet providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This would put the Internet under the same restrictions as phone lines, essentially treating it as a public utility.
“To be current, these rules must also build on the lessons of the past,” President Obama argued, describing the Internet as one of the “great gifts” for the U.S. economy. “For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business. That is why a phone call from a customer of one phone company can reliably reach a customer of a different one, and why you will not be penalized solely for calling someone who is using another provider. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call, or a packet of data.”
It’s a plan many net neutrality supports have already endorsed, and now it has the president’s stamp of approval as well. Hopefully the FCC will take his suggestion to heart.