President Obama Monday reiterated his opposition to paid prioritization, and said that means reclassifying consumer broadband services under Title II regulations.
In a video, he said cable companies and other ISPs should not let any company pay for priority. "I'm asking the FCC to reclassify Internet service under Title II of a law known as the Telecommunications Act."
In an update on the White House's We the People site responding to petitions, this one calling for Title II reclassification of broadband access, the White House said the President had "today asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take up the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality, the principle that says Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally."
The FCC is an independent agency, so the President can only ask, a point he made clear, but he made that "ask" clear.
President Obama's plan, which he said would keep the Internet "free and open," would reclassify consumer broadband services under what's known as Title II of the Telecommunications Act. It would serve as a "basic acknowledgement of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone - not just one or two companies."
That plan includes:
"No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
"No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called 'throttling' — based on the type of service or your ISP's preferences.
"Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called 'last mile' — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
"No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a '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. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect. No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business."
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he would add the President's comments to the record and take them into account as he ponders what to do.
"The President's statement is an important and welcome addition to the record of the Open Internet proceeding," said FCC chairman Tom wheeler in response. "Like the President, I believe that the Internet must remain an open platform for free expression, innovation, and economic growth. We both oppose Internet fast lanes. The Internet must not advantage some to the detriment of others. We cannot allow broadband networks to cut special deals to prioritize Internet traffic and harm consumers, competition and innovation.
"As an independent regulatory agency we will incorporate the President's submission into the record of the Open Internet proceeding. We welcome comment on it and how it proposes to use Title II of the Communications Act."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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