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President Obama came out swinging today against proposed measures he said would “end the Internet as we know it,” by allowing service providers to create fast and slow lanes.
As protesters gathered outside the house of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, Obama lent his support by issuing a statement and a YouTube video explaining why he supports keeping the Internet open to all 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,” Obama said in a statement. “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.”
Industry insiders have said a free Internet remains a priority; however they are asking the FCC for more leeway for how they package and sell various Internet plans. Activists have rallied against the idea over the fear it could create toll roads on the so-called “information superhighway”.
Obama outlined his plan for what he called “simple, common-sense steps” that he said will protect consumers, including classifying the consumer broadband service as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Obama acknowledged, however, that the FCC “is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone.”
Among the four basic points of the president’s plan are no blocking websites for certain users, no throttling (creating a fast and slow lane), more transparency between consumers and Internet service providers and no paid prioritization to move to the front of the line.