On Monday, President Obama announced his support for the reclassification of internet service as a utility. This would allow the Federal Communications Commission to enforce stronger regulations while protecting net neutrality.
The president says internet service providers should be regulated like public utilities to ensure they give equal access to all content providers and websites, Reuters reported.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Barack Obama” author_title=”President of the United States”]
In plain English, I’m asking [the FCC] to recognize that for most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.
The president said the FCC should expand its control over broadband providers, saying the “strongest possible rules” are required to protect consumers and make sure the internet does not have fast and slow lanes, with internet providers slowing or blocking access to certain websites.
The FCC is currently considering whether internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon can choose to prioritize or block traffic to certain websites. This comes after a federal appeals court ruling earlier this year that struck down FCC rules banning companies from doing so, the Huffington Post reported.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is now considering a “hybrid” compromise that would allow ISPs to make deals with companies for faster delivery while allowing for federal oversight.
Obama, who appointed Wheeler, hopes the FCC will go farther, applying utility-like regulations to parts of broadband to ban ISPs from slowing, blocking or giving preferential treatment to websites or companies.
In his statement, the president said that any FCC rules that are adopted should also apply to mobile devices. Wireless carriers were exempt from the FCC’s net neutrality rules in 2010 that were thrown out this year.
Broadband providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T criticized Obama’s approach and said it would not stand up in court. AT&T said it would challenge the rules. Many internet companies, including Netflix, applauded the plan and said it would prevent ISPs from demanding payment from companies to reach consumers, the Wall Street Journal reported.