Yesterday, President Obama called for new legislation that would protect “net neutrality”, the belief that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. The move came as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made its decision on a new set of proposals for regulations after the old rules were overturned by court defeats at the hands of cable companies.
“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,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online.” (source: USAToday.com)
Critics, such as Republican Senator Ted Cruz, were quick to voice their concerns, calling Obama’s proposal an “Obamacare for the internet”. According to Cruz, “the internet should not operate at the speed of the government”. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) was equally as stunned.
Michael Powell, President of NCTA, argued that the cable industry is a strong supporter of an open internet and strongly believes that over-regulating this growing industry will not advance the cause of internet freedom.
What’s going to be most affected by Obama’s decision are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who block or deliberately slow legal content. Obama’s proposal also includes a recommendation to outlaw paid-for “fast-lane” access, in which a content provider refusing to pay extra would be subject to slower Internet connections. .
Whether or not Obama’s proposal for net neutrality will go through, the Internet should still continue being a forum for innovation and freedom of speech; as long they don’t impede on the rights and freedoms of others. Open, affordable, fast and universal communications networks are essential to our global, digital future.
On the other hand, we must work to ensure that the Internet we love doesn’t become a platform for corporate speech or another way for governments to spy on us. We must protect the Internet that lets us connect and create, that rejects censorship and values our right to privacy.
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