On Monday, the President Barack Obama came down heavily against internet providers cutting deals with online services like Netflix or YouTube to get their content to move faster across websites for a higher fees. While the move has angered cable giants across the country and led their stocks to plummet, his statement is being hailed by some. It has led to an intense debate about the future on internet.
“An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life,” Obama said in a video and statement issued by the White House. “We cannot allow Internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.”
The Federal Communications Commission, Obama said, needs to adopt the strictest rules possible to prevent broadband companies from blocking or intentionally slowing down legal content and from allowing content providers to pay for a fast lane to reach consumers.
This statement by the President puts him in the league of activists and people who fear “that broadband providers are moving towards creating fast lanes on the internet.”
That approach, he said, demands thinking about both wired and wireless broadband service as a public utility. This statement by the President is being seen by analysts as ‘political cover’ to Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman. Wheeler is close to settling on a plan to protect an open Internet, known commonly as net neutrality. Last night’s statement by Obama could push him to adopt a more aggressive approach.
“We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and call for extreme Title II regulation,” said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry, which supplies much of the nation’s Internet access. This “tectonic shift in national policy, should it be adopted, would create devastating results,” Powell added.
Obama’s statement has been applauded by The Internet Association represented by content providers like eBay, Google, YouTube and Netflix. “When the leader of the free world says the Internet should remain free, that’s a game changer,” said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass.