Obama Asks FCC to Set Strong Net Neutrality Rules

Obama Asks FCC to Set Strong Net Neutrality Rules

But common sense rarely cuts it in Washington D.C.

President Obama on Monday issued a public plan for a free and open Internet, one in which Internet service providers are not allowed to restrict the best access or to "pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas." And he called on the Federal Communications Commission to enact the strongest possible Net Neutrality rules.

President Obama has no direct authority over the agency. But with nearly 4 million public comments logged so far, his is now the most influential to voice the worry that the FCC will let Internet service providers and telecommunications companies to act as gatekeepers for the Internet. He would like to see Internet access be treated like a public utility.

More specifically, President Obama is asking for the FCC to implement the following rules, which he calls "simple and common-sense."

No blocking. ISPs should not be able to block access to a web site or service that provides legal content.

No throttling. ISPs should not be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others—a process called throttling—based on the type of service you pay for or your ISP's preferences.

Increased transparency. Net Neutrality shouldn't just apply to the so-called "last mile" connection—that between consumers and their ISPs—but should instead be enforced between the ISP and Internet.

No paid prioritization. No service should be stuck in an Internet "slow lane" because it does not pay a fee. "That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet's growth," Mr. Obama's open letter explains. "So I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect."

Companies are already implementing deals that bypass Net Neutrality. Netflix pays Comcast for faster Internet access for its subscribers, for example. And these companies have swiftly condemned Mr. Obama's proposals.

"Imposing antiquated common carrier regulation on the vibrant mobile wireless ecosystem would be a gross overreaction," CTIA-The Wireless Association CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said. "It would impose inappropriate regulation on a dynamic industry and would threaten mobile providers' ability to invest and innovate, all to the detriment of consumers."

You can read the full text of President Obama's Net Neutrality plan on the White House web site.

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