President Barack Obama released a statement on preserving Net Neutrality on November 10th. Seeking to keep a fair internet, the President announced a recommendation to the Federal Communications Division (FCC) to reclassify the Internet as a utility, so that providers do not have the ability to manipulate the quality of service they provide.
Currently, Internet service providers (ISP’s) must ensure access to all content and not discriminate or charge different rates based upon factors such as user, content, site, and platform. Some ISP’s would like to start creating internet “fast lanes” where companies could pay for premium service, and therefore slow other websites down.
Obama’s hard stance comes after months of debate within the FCC to define regulations for Internet service providers. In May 2014, Tom Wheeler, current FCC Chairman, proposed rules that would allow discrimination online. During the past six months, the Obama Administration separated itself from Wheeler’s proposal, but by October the public grew impatient. Obama’s announcement was released as both an open letter and a video. It calls on the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Advocates of Open Internet insist that this move would protect Open Internet rules from the telecom industry by giving the FCC legal jurisdiction over Internet service providers.
In response to the President’s statement, Wheeler stated that the reclassifications under Title II are complex and raise “legal issues.” Big service providers, anti-regulatory advocates, and Republican lawmakers voiced similar concerns stating that Net Neutrality is similar to “Obamacare for the Internet.” However, proponents of free Internet argue that Internet should not be at the mercy of corporations and that free Internet is necessary to protect our freedom of speech and opportunity.
The FCC’s decision will most likely not be released until 2015.