President Barack Obama has declared himself fully committed to net neutrality, effectively coming out in opposition to the proposed FCC plan to create so-called Internet ‘fast-lanes’.
The FCC received a record 3.7 million comments since Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new so-called Open Internet rules in April. The proposed rules would ban ISPs from blocking or slowing users’ access to websites but allow them to charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of traffic to users.
“I am unequivocally committed to net neutrality,” Obama told a group of company start-up founders at Cross Campus, a collaborative space in Santa Monica that brings together freelancers, creative professionals, entrepreneurs and start-up teams. “It’s what has unleashed the power of the Internet, and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes,” he said.
“I know that one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritisation, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet: that is something I’m opposed to. I was opposed to it when I ran and I continue to be opposed to it now,” he declared.
Recognising that the FCC is an independent agency, Obama noted that it came out with some preliminary rules that caused concern among proponents of net neutrality. “My appointee, Tom Wheeler, knows my position. I can’t – now that he’s there, I can’t just call him up and tell him exactly what to do. But what I’ve been clear about, what the White House has been clear about, is that we expect that whatever final rules to emerge, to make sure that we’re not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet. That ends up being a big priority of mine,” he confirmed.