Obama Indicates Opposition to Internet ‘Fast Lanes’

Barack Obama
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

When President Obama spoke at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum on Tuesday, he was asked about his position on net neutrality, the rules of the road for the Internet that are pending before the FCC.

At the center of the debate is whether the FCC will pass rules that will allow Internet providers to strike deals allowing content companies to gain speedier and better access to the consumer, known as paid prioritization or “fast lanes.”

Asked about the topic, Obama said, “One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers.  That’s the big controversy here.  You have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more but then also charge more for more spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster or what have you.

“And I personally — the position of my administration, as well as I think a lot of companies here is you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various users.  You want to leave it open so that the next Google or the next Facebook can succeed.”

Groups like Move On and Credo cited the remarks as meaning that Obama favors banning paid prioritization altogether. “This is significant progress in the fight to restore and protect net neutrality,” MoveOn said in a letter to supporters. “If we seize this moment, it could be a turning point.”

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal would prohibit commercially unreasonable practices by Internet providers, a standard that critics say would be too weak to prevent paid prioritization deals. So Wheeler also is asking for public comment on whether the FCC should ban paid prioritization outright, or even reclassify the Internet as a telecommunications service. The latter would give the FCC greater regulatory oversight.

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  1. Joe Torelli says:

    Thanks for your IGNORANT opinion. You can be the first to pay more to access the content you want instead of just paying your ISP to connect you to the whole internet.

  2. Joe Torelli says:

    Time for an EXECUTIVE ORDER to the FCC requiring them to label ISP’s as common carriers.

  3. Kitt says:

    The internet as a telecommunication service, how absurd. The word tele is derived from a Greek term meaning distant and communication from Latin, meaning to Share. Together the term distant share is derived, what an absurd idea. Think about it, the internet was not designed to share data across vast distances, wait a second…

    I think it should be classified as a solvit-communication service, or paid communication.

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