Obama Calls For ‘Strongest Possible’ Net Neutrality Rules

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Claiming that an open Internet is “essential to the American economy,” President Obama issued a statement Monday calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to significantly expand its regulatory control over broadband service providers by requiring them to treat all types of Web traffic equally.
“’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,” the President said, adding that the FCC should “implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”
Dana Liebelson of The Huffington Post reports the FCC is currently mulling over whether or not ISPs such as Comcast or Verizon should be allowed to prohibit or prioritize traffic to specific websites. The debate stems from a January federal appeals court ruling that overturned the regulations which prohibited companies from engaging in such practices.
While it had previously been reported the FCC was considering a compromise that would allow service providers to make deals with companies permitting faster data transfer rates, but still establishing some form of oversight, Liebelson said the Obama administration is looking for stronger rules that would reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, meaning the service would be treated as a public utility.
Should that happen, service providers would be barred from making “any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services,” she explained. Furthermore, the President is seeking a ban of paid prioritization, which permits companies to throttle service for a content provider if that provider fails to pay a fee. In his statement, Obama said that no legal content should be allowed to be blocked by ISPs.
In addition, Gautham Nagesh and Jeffrey Sparshott of The Wall Street Journal reported the President also believes that any rules adopted by the FCC should also be applied to mobile devices. When previous net neutrality rules were passed by the commission in 2010, wireless carriers were largely exempted, Nagesh and Sparshott said. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had previously said the rules would apply to mobile service providers in some fashion.
Wheeler told reporters that he welcomed the President’s input, telling Reuters that federal regulators “must take the time to get the job done correctly, once and for all, in order to successfully protect consumers and innovators online.” Others, however, expressed surprise that Obama decided to weigh in on the net neutrality discussion.
“We are stunned the President would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and call for extreme Title II regulation,” former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, now the president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, told ABC News. “The cable industry strongly supports an open Internet… and strongly believes that over-regulating the fastest growing technology in our history will not advance the cause of Internet freedom.”

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