Surprise: President Obama Calls For Real Net Neutrality

from the boom dept

President Obama has finally stepped up in the net neutrality battle, calling on the FCC to reclassify broadband as Title II, with forbearance, to create strong real net neutrality rules. Here’s the key bit:

I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act ? while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone ? not just one or two companies.

Investment in wired and wireless networks has supported jobs and made America the center of a vibrant ecosystem of digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity. Importantly, network investment remained strong under the previous net neutrality regime, before it was struck down by the court; in fact, the court agreed that protecting net neutrality helps foster more investment and innovation. If the FCC appropriately forbears from the Title II regulations that are not needed to implement the principles above ? principles that most ISPs have followed for years ? it will help ensure new rules are consistent with incentives for further investment in the infrastructure of the Internet.

He also encourages the following setup, while acknowledging that the FCC is independent and can create whatever rules it wants.

The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. 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. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe. These bright-line rules include:

  • 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.

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 White House has also released the following video of President Obama discussing this:

Make sure not to miss the first few seconds of the video, in which the White House appears to acknowledge the “internet slowdown day” with a mock buffering image:
Many people engaged in the net neutrality fight had been annoyed at President Obama for not taking a strong stand on net neutrality — a promise he had campaigned on. Instead, the White House was pretty quiet about things, and President Obama made a bunch of vague, non-committal statements about it. Making a clear and bold proclamation supporting reclassifying under Title II (with the important forbearance) is a big step forward. It won’t sway Republicans who have fought against Title II from the beginning, but it may finally give folks who had been wavering and playing a political game of not fully supporting Title II in the past the political cover they need. And that includes those at the “independent” FCC…

This won’t necessarily change the end result here, but this is a big win for net neutrality supporters who had been feeling abandoned, and certainly provides some political support to full reclassification to protect an open internet. It could have and should have come much earlier, but better late than never.

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Comments on “Surprise: President Obama Calls For Real Net Neutrality”

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Spodula (profile) says:

Re: I'm shocked. And stunned.

I’m not. There are no more elections his party has to face before he’s out of office, so he doesn’t have to suck up to political donors.

All he has to think about now is his legacy in the history books, which he probably doesn’t want included “Campaigned on Net neutrality, then ignored it”.

Wonder if he will do the same with Guantanamo?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'm shocked. And stunned.

Plus, there is a republican majority in both chambers. Makes it easier to play the game straight. No pushing of responsibilities between the chambers, makes things much more transparent.

Also, net neutrality pisses more republicans off than democrats. With no democratic majority he has to make cooperate, throwing a publically supported partisan bone in the face of republicans is just par for the course.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So he’s grandstanding on issues that he (claims to) have no control over. Yet when it comes to issues under his influence he participates in secretive meetings with industry interests and does the opposite of what’s in the public interest. Easy enough for any politician to do. Mess everything up under your control, point fingers, and grandstand about what needs to be done when it comes to things not under your control.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You sir, get it. He has no authority over immigration yet will be giving an executive order over that soon. When he and the Dems controlled the whole thing, they did 1 thing and that was spend money. They could have accomplished anything else they wanted to and did nothing. Only come election time did they mention jobs, taxes, etc. Then after the elections went silent again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I see them shutting down a consumer for repeated spam infringements, DDoS attacks, or simply shutting down services for an Open DNS resolver, NTP server, and whatever the hack du jour is. Hell, I do that now for even large enterprise customers when I have to take serious action, since it rather easier to piss off one client than have upstream providers label you as a bad network on Spamhaus, CMYRU, and others…

DigDug says:

Re: bullsh*t

No interference promise would mean that all taps by the NSA/CIA/FBI would have to be removed as they cause interference of packet flow (routed to the hub where they snoop, rather than the optimal data flow).

Those extra data centers @ AT&T operated by the NSA would have to be turned down, destroyed.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: bullsh*t

“Those extra data centers @ AT&T operated by the NSA would have to be turned down, destroyed.”

Not at all. While it would arguably forbid MITM attacks, what is happening with the NSA taps is not interfering in a technical sense at all. It’s making a copy of the datastream, but does not impede the flow of the datastream being copied.

DigDug says:

Re: Re: Re: bullsh*t

That’s the nice thing about the english language.

No tampering is an absolute, it has no other meaning than “No Tampering”.. Just like “unlimited” has only one meaning “unlimited, ie – no limits”.

That means no delays, no shaping, no redirecting, no restructuring, no splitting or buffer copying to send a replica somewhere else as that would delay the packets which would mean, you guessed it – tampering.

All of these things would be “tampering”, and therefor would not be allowed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sigh, political cowardice

I doubt it. Anyone inclined to change their vote due to a stance on net neutrality should already be well informed enough to know that the Republicans have a bit more of a hard on for letting corporations do what they want than Democrats, though the Democrats have their own pet industries for whom they’ll rollover.

People voted against ObamaCare and for whichever candidate their local Fox News affiliate endorsed.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“and the content is legal”

So once again we need a magic box to solve a problem.
He is on his way out, perhaps he should have taken this time to put actual citizens before the demands of cartels.
Perhaps one should end Hollywood accounting loopholes and explain how corporations making more than ever before still need handouts on the backs of citizens.

“Investment in wired and wireless networks has supported jobs and made America the center of a vibrant ecosystem of digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity”

What fing country are you in sir?
The public has paid huge amounts into making sure the networks covered everyone, and we got jack and shit for that forced investment.
We have companies forced out of business by legacy players given the right to veto technological advances they fear.
We have crap coverage, priced well in excess of actual costs, and the option is to get fucked or get fucked thanks to the support going to monopolies.
When citizens try to fund their own answer, the law is used to protect corporate interests at the continued expense of the citizens.

The ISPs haven had control for far to long, and nothing you can ask for or the FCC can do will change anything for the better, costs will remain high and go up for less, more data will be gathered and sold to the highest bidder, all while we pay higher rates.

To little, to late.

DigDug says:

Re: Re:

without tampering with the data flow, they cannot know what it is or whether or not it is legal.

By tampering, figuring out what the traffic is, then allowing it or disallowing it would put the ISP or backbone operators in the position of controlling life or death.

Let’s say that traffic carrying medical information updates from a patient to a hospital, the traffic is being carried through a vpn to protect paitent confidentiality, that traffic gets blocked because “only criminals encrypt data traffic”, and the patient dies because the hospital was unable to “timely” get the data necessary.

That means the ISP or backbone operator just committed an act of murder because they decided to block something that they didn’t understand.

That is why ISPs and Backbone operators CANNOT touch the data being sent through just because it’s encrypted, or just because it went over a TOR end point (it could be traffic for a political asylum request costing an individual their life while trying to escape a political hell-hole) or cause a major financial crisis because a company with multiple offices figured out a way to use torrents to transmit data to clients to prevent congestion.

Anything that the government or the RIAA/MPAA thinks are tools that only crooks would use can have legitimate, or even life-saving uses, and ISPs and backbone operators need to stay 100% hands off.

JWW (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yep. He claims to not control the FCC. But the next step for him is to call head of the FCC and advocate for Common Carrier.

I do not for the life of me understand how the hell Republicans are getting this wrong. One of the biggest opponents to net neutrality is Hollywood. Hollywood fucking hates Republicans. Here’s there chance to poke Hollywood in the eye with a sharp stick and also point out that Obama said it was a good idea too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your call, I would be more worried about him lying… its not uncommon for a politician to say one thing for public benefit while using his cronies to still do the opposite of what he says. I am sure there is a term for this… o wait… 2 faced! Forked tongue and snake oil…

Anyway… I would prefer that he actually do what he says this time and I could raise my opinion of the doofus!

Cassie says:


I understand that as president, he has to show himself as just and law abiding. But part of this country’s pride is in freedom of speech. We pride ourselves in allowing people to think, hear, see and speak the way they want. So if it’s illegal, we shouldn’t be able to see it? I get blocking things like kiddie porn and things of that nature, because there is no good reason to be seeing that. But does perusing terrorist sites count as illegal? What if someone is just doing research? What if there is a legit and legal reason to look at these Illegal sites? I think there needs to be a better choice of words for that part. Other than that, I agree and support Obama.

DigDug says:

535 Members of Congress, 1 President, 1 Vice President.

That’s 537 elected officials that have either violated the constitution or turned a blind eye to those that have violated the constitution and/or bill of rights.

537 elected officials who have ignored their constituents in favor of Corporate greed.

537 elected officials who have our founding fathers rolling over in their graves, gnashing their skeletal teeth wishing they could rise and remove their corrupt corpses from office.

Since they cannot, it falls upon us, the 316.1 million people, not corporations, that are supposed to be protected by our elected officials to remove them from office.

When the next election comes, vote out all incumbents. Vote for someone other than a Republican or Democrat, as those 2 parties have already shown their “true” (Corrupt) colors.

Snowden for President, 2016.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is welcome news, but the biggest problem is that there has always been a huge gap between what obama says and what he does.

“The FCC is an independent agency”

It’s a de facto wing of the telecomunications industry, it’s foot in government, with the exact same people going back and forth betweeen government regulators and private industry jobs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is welcome news, but the biggest problem is that there has always been a huge gap between what obama says and what he does.

This is what the squawkers above don’t seem to understand. You cannot just back this guy on his say so. This is a good time to try to educate the public on what net neutrality really is so that they can see what Obama actually tries to implement and whether it passes the sniff test. Being closely tied to Hollywood, I don’t expect him to get it right. Most likely it will be a set of laws/regulations that sound like they do one thing but quite likely is media industry friendly.

CK20XX (profile) says:

This is not the time to be sour.

I’m seeing a lot of people here figuratively spitting in Obama’s face over this, and I can’t blame you for how you feel, but that is absolutely not the appropriate response to this story.

Governments and corporations should be treated like pets: praise them when they are good and punish them when they are bad. Throw Obama a treat for this action and save the newspaper and shock collar for that shady TPP he seems bent on pushing through.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This is not the time to be sour.

The problem isn’t giving credit where credit is due. The problem is the timing: given the results of the past election, it’s obvious to everyone (including the President) that the current political climate demands anyone who values his or her future in government oppose whatever stance is taken by Obama. Advocating Title II classification at this point is the greatest gift he could give to the anti-NN camp. This is very possibly an intentional wink-wink nudge-nudge deal.

Cassie says:


There is a limit of what’s necessary the president do to be just and law abiding. If he arrested all of those, he would have to fill all of those positions. And justify the budget raising for it. Not saying he shouldn’t arrest them. Not sure on the execute part though. However he does have to maintain in some sort of general way that the fLaws should be followed. After all, he is still president for now.

Nema says:

Good for Obama

Cable companies need to be regulated. They’re working together to prevent having to provide better service or lower prices. The internet in the US is extremely slow and over priced.

My cable/internet costs me $150/month (from Time Warner). Contrast with my other expenses:

– Gym ($11/month from Planet Fitness)
– Mobile Phone ($21/month from TMobile)
– Car insurance ($25/month from Insurance Panda)
– Groceries ($90/month for me)

Yes, that’s correct, my gym, cellphone, car insurance, and food COMBINED cost less than my TWC bill.

This will be a win for consumers by increasing competition and expanding infrastructure. Prices drop and speed increases. Profits drop. Aww.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

A big "but"

I see this merely as the “guy in the White House”, who presumably has the moral stance just suggesting the FCC’s way to the end.

Or as he said himself: “The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone.”…with his suggestions for the end result. He can’t do much else.

Kinda like the cheerleader with brains.

It might sink into the FCC’s brains that the President is supposed to be representing the American public in doing this.

Even now, the office still gets a little respect from other government offices in Washington DC-or its’ supposed to.

rotten13 says:

3rd Option - One not on the Hegelian Dialectic's menu for wolves and fascists

Once upon a time the FCC regulated Power and Frequency in the Public interest.

But after awhile things were too exciting, and so the FCC decided to screw up the emissions of our radios and television, instead of in the public interest, and also through forces of POTUS in the whitehouse selecting FCC chair, they must have sat down one day and decided, since we have mostly oath breakers in government, why don’t we make regulate in a corporate fascist interest instead of the public interest.

So today, the Corporations control the Public Spectrum Mostly. A little for Military/Government frequencies, but the rest is basically to for profit broadcasters, telco’s and the like. Even PBS isn’t in the Public Interest, it’s CORPORATE backed, by war industry, health destruction like MONSANTO, and eugenicists like BillG and the Vaccine industry.

They say they have public files you can complain in.
How many of you even know that?

Bottom line is it isn’t working. It’s decaying.

So what is this big Idea, this third option your saying, enough of your rant (hey haven’t I heard that rant before and oh yeah tl;dr)

Here’s the plan.
1. POTUS no longer appoints FCC chair.
2. Entire FCC board is decided by the VOTER.
3. Corporate Broadcasters on Public Spectrum, “MUST” have an ONLINE PUBLIC FILE. e.g you can bitch with your phone, bitch with webforms, bitch with email, or bitch with something other than having to physically go to a dead tree book, (if it’s electronic, you can PRINT it.) The reason for this is one of timing and speed.
4. FCC will be connected to these public files. I would not go so far as to give them authority over the public file “books” for lack of terminology here. (they belong with the station – it’s their LOG FILES!!) Regulate Yes, But Trust? Not in Today’s world, haven’t even started CLEANING UP the Untrusted or known oath breakers yet. Instead, the authority the FCC will get over these “books” is that they can pull the Frequency Allocation and Station ID if the public voices concerns the station isn’t in the Public Interest on the Public Spectrum. Monitoring books being an electronic operation at 3E8 means the station is INSTANTLY removed. We do need an FCC, but we need it to go back to it’s roots, and the only way

IN my opinion
is to take authority AWAY from the ones controlling it.

The other thing is this net neutrality.
I don’t want the FCC in there at all, they have clearly FLOPPED on regulating Power and Frequency, I don’t want their filthy noses um my CAT5 Cable’s ass. If they want to regulate mobile phones, and wireless that’s fine, that shit is Power and Frequency, it is Radios that have emissions, but stay the fuck out of my CABLES/Fiberoptics. NOTHING GOOD WILL COME FROM THE FCC ‘s FASCIST EMBRACING MISSION CREEP

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m impressed with President Obama’s statement on Net Neutrality and the need for Title II classification. I had this numbing feeling like I was in an alternate reality while reading it. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard so much common sense coming out of government. I wish every day could be like this. The world would be a much better place with happier people living in it.

GEMont (profile) says:

Barnum said it best.

” It could have and should have come much earlier, but better late than never.”

One should never count one’s chickens before they are actually hatched.

I don’t believe this is anything more than top notch PR.

The FCC will pull its usual “Rabbit-Out-Of-Its-Ass-Hat and the Big Players will get what they wanted, and very likely, what they have already paid mega-bux for.

I’ve not seen anything remotely resembling truth fall out of Obama’s mouth since he “took” office, and I’m sure as hell not considering the notion that he’s suddenly gonna start telling the truth now.

Hell, the man has almost single-handedly paved the path for an apparently popular Republican take over of the country, with the bodies of dead democratic principles and shards of the constitution.

This spiel has got to be just more think-tank PR BS – just more “tell them what they want to hear and then bugger’em from behind when they look the other way“.

My guess is that he did this to make the opposition to the Big Players Net-Take-Over plans relax a bit and breath a sigh of relief, so that the Big Players can knock their knees out from under them while their guard is down.

What this aint, is a promise of Net Neutrality.

James Jones Esquire says:

Of course he'll get net neutrality pushed through, for the children..

It’s an absolutely terrible idea. Of course Obama endorses net neutrality, and of course the herd should be ready to drink it up.

Our government should do what it is supposed to do. Get their grubby hands off my internet. If any one of our overlords actually cared they would break up these corporate monopolies and oligarchs, force them to
Compete, like a long time ago.

Of course they won’t, and it will be a good time to push thru net neutrality legislation that puts our internet in the same “protected” class as other public utilities. Think things are stagnant now.. Cable providers already have a nice protected status, the reason only one serves a particular area, lets take the DSL And fiber operators away too. in fact.. Lets take away the need to compete at all, likewise, other companies coming in and laying new fiber like google, well that would need to be shut down immediately. Kinda like having more than one gas company, or electric company, or cable company to choose from, it rarely happens.

Of course the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, of smaller government is just as corrupt as the demorats. So I’m sure they will push legislation thru. After all, what’s better for these ISPs than to close off the market, be able to raise fees, let the network go, and get 3 or 4 times as many subsidies as they already get from taxpayers, and raise the cost of services at the same time. Of course the republicans are all about security, there is a lot of opportunity here.. So much can actually be regulated quite nicely when the govt is your ISP, or whichever one they may choose to oversee, and also, you can bet that any of you 3 letter acronym soup du jour is also champing at the bit to get this to go down.

Of course, a majority of people have elected him twice. I wouldn’t expect most of them to think, outside of what the collective herd told them on reddit or facebook, or whatever mainstream media org tells them.. And It’s actually with great irony that the Econ professor from MIT was spot on in his assessment of the Affordable Care Act and the US population.

Of course it doesn’t stop there, I read a quote the other day that sums it up fairly well. something like “thank goodness bush isn’t in office, if he were I would have to be enraged at the unending drone strikes, continued wars, nw wars, and whats more, now sending 2000 more boots on the ground back to Iraq. ”

There really is no wonder why they feel they need to control every part of our existence, from where the homeless can sleep, to who can feed them, to what people browse online. People are generally stupid, as that MIT professor said. And overall it s probably better in the long run to prevent the invalids from screwing themselves up. I wish they would just get it done and over with instead of being nickeled and dimed all the time.

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