President Obama Pleads For an Internet Without "Toll Roads"

click to play video

Earlier this Fall, some of the web's biggest sites including Netflix, Reddit, Vimeo, and Digg participated in Internet Slowdown Day to show what could happen in a world without net neutrality, if Internet service providers were allowed to slow down or throttle certain sites in order to promote their own business interests. Today, President Obama released a video statement urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to keep that from happening and protect an open and neutral Internet by reclassifying Internet services as a utility.

He writes:

So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, 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.

The president imagines an Internet free of "toll roads," as he calls them; if unregulated, cable and Internet companies could give preference and faster loading times to sites they have vested stakes in. To break it down, it's preventing the Internet from becoming one big buffering annoyance if a website isn't on an Internet provider's good side.

The FCC is an independent agency, so it will make the decision on recognizing Internet as a utility on its own, not by vote or Congressional act, though the president encourages Americans to spread the message to the FCC on keeping the Internet open.

After the president's statement, Senator Ted Cruz spoke out on net neutrality, calling it "Obamacare for the Internet," which elicited some strong reactions from the Twitterati.