President Obama called Monday for “the strongest possible rules to protect” the open Internet and voiced opposition to proposals by cable and telecom companies to create fast lanes on the Internet for users who can afford to pay.

The Guardian reports:

The president’s statement comes as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to publish new rules to regulate the internet after a series of legal defeats at the hands of telecoms and cable companies.

“An open internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known,” Obama said.

The president came out firmly against a proposal that would allow cable companies to create “fast lanes” for higher paying customers. Cable and telecoms companies have lobbied for fast lanes, arguing that companies like Netflix should pay more for the large amount of bandwidth they use.

The Guardian explains the president’s move will place “extraordinary pressure” on the FCC — an independent agency whose senior figures are appointed by the president. Chairman Tom Wheeler is a Democrat, but the commission’s board is divided between Democratic and Republican members and Republicans have openly opposed net neutrality.

The president set out four “commonsense” rules he would like to see the FCC impose on Internet service providers: no blocking of legal websites or services; no intentional slowing down of some content or speeding up of other; increased transparency in the activity of providers and monitoring for potential abuses by the FCC; and an “explicit ban on paid prioritization” of users “and any other restriction that has a similar effect.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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