President Obama Wants to Reclassify the Internet as a Utility

As a 27-year-old, I’m part of the last generation that knew what life was like before the internet took over our everyday lives. To bring some context to this, MySpace was only rising in popularity during my Senior year of high school in 2004-2005. Since then, we’ve entered a huge renaissance where the internet has become a near necessity in our lives. As such, companies have monetized and commercialized our access to the service, but in a way that was standard for everybody, whether you’re an online entrepreneur or a web surfer.

Back in January, the FCC ruled against the “net neutrality” provision, which paved the way for certain internet service providers (ISPs) to enter in business deals with various websites/services to provide premium speeds/prices dependent on your provider. If this comes off a bit confusing, imagine it like DirecTV with a premium channel package or Comcast making certain sites load faster than others because they offered to pay more. As I detailed back then, this meant larger sites like Google would load quicker when compared to a competitor like Bing… perhaps depending on your ISP, Bing wouldn’t even be accessible. Net neutrality allows an even, level playing field for all ISPs, websites, and online services. It shouldn’t matter if you access the internet through a laptop or smartphone, whether you have Comcast, AT&T, SBC Global, etc., or whether you like to visit larger sites like Complex or VICE or smaller sites like Ruby Hornet and the like.

Earlier today, President Obama officially sided in support of net neutrality, and officially made a request to reclassify the internet as a utility. By doing so, the reclassification would ensure all ISPs follow a standard set of rules across the board, which include the following:

  • 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.

Watch the brief video President Obama released indicating his support of net neutrality and urging of the FCC to classify the internet as a utility below.

[via White House]

Geoff Henao

Geoff Henao is a writer/kinda photographer affiliated with the Chicago collective LOD. His interests include film, punk rock, cute girls, graphic novels, video games, and the Chicago Bulls. He's funny sometimes.

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