US President Barack Obama calls for a free and open internet

10 Nov 2014

The President of the United States Barack Obama has rowed into the Net Neutrality debate and has called for a free and open internet.

The battle lines so far have been drawn between ISPs and internet content companies like Netflix who are being forced to pay the ISPs extra fees to ensure quality of service.

The ultimate fear is that this will eventually create a two-tiered internet with the best access restricted for those who can afford to pay for it.

“’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,” President Obama said.

“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.

“That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4m public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

ISPs: don’t act as gatekeepers

In a statement the President called for the FCC to create a set of rules to protect net neutrality and ensure telcos and ISPs don’t act as gatekeepers restricting what people can see online.

He called for four base line “common sense” rules: no blocking, no throttling, increased transparency and no paid prioritization.

“If carefully designed, these rules should not create any undue burden for ISPs, and can have clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services such as dedicated, mission-critical networks serving a hospital. But combined, these rules mean everything for preserving the Internet’s openness.

“The rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device. I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks,” President Obama said.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years