President Says He Intends to Protect Open Internet

The President did not spend much time on broadband in the State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but he had already devoted a speech to it last week, and the White House had already outlined his ambitious high-speed broadband plans, as well as actions to protect privacy and push cybersecurity.

The speech was mostly a valedictory vision of a better America through Democratic policies, or what CNN's John King called a left of center speech to a right of center Congress.

But the speech did include a number of communications-related issues, including network neutrality and at least a couple of mentions of high-speed broadband.

"I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks," the President said, "so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world."

He also talked about building infrastructure including "the fastest Internet."

On cybersecurity, he said: "No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information." 

He went off speech to emphasize that that should be a bipartisan effort. "If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe."

On government data collection: "As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties – and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy."

He took a shot at the flood of political ads post Citizens United. "A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up..."

John Eggerton

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.