Obama: FCC Needs to Reclassify Internet as a Utility - Update 2

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Obama: FCC Needs to Reclassify Internet as a Utility - Update 2

POTUS wants the Internet to be reclassified under the FCC's Title II powers.

Update 2: After President Obama issued his stance on net neutrality, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he would attempt a solution that would cover some of that Obama wants, while not completely alienating broadband providers.

"What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn't affect your business," said Wheeler during a meeting with the likes of Google and Yahoo!, according to The Washington Post. "What I've got to figure out is how to split the baby."

Wheeler, once a high-profile lobbyist for the cable and telecommunications sectors, obviously has experience in dealing with the like of Comcast and Verizon, and his current, soon-to-be-replaced tiered Internet policy reflects that experience.

The FCC is an independent agency, which means Wheeler can take the President's thoughts into consideration, but Obama cannot issue orders to the FCC Chairman.

Update: We've included a number of reactions to President Obama's statement from politicians and corporations alike. See below.

Original Story: Four million public comments were submitted to the FCC on its Open Internet policies, and President Barack Obama has now officially lent his voice to that list.

POTUS, who came out against the "fast lane" policy proposed earlier this year, has emerged amidst the mid-term election aftermath to call on the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify the Internet as a utility, using powers granted under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

The reclassification would bring Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and other broadband providers under the "common carrier" umbrella, meaning, among other regulations, such providers would be subject to regulations treating all internet traffic equally. This would effectively end any sort of "fast lane" strategy.

President Obama has been publicly for net neutrality in the past -- even before being elected in 2008 -- but today's video, statement are his strongest words on the issue to date.

"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," said President Obama in a prepared statement. "But combined, these rules mean everything for preserving the Internet's openness.

"The rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device. I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks."

The President's full statement can be read here.

Right now, the FCC classifies broadband internet as a "Information Service." This kind of classification extends to various entities that operate online, namely social media platforms (Facebook), and any other content-heavy service (YouTube, Vimeo). The President wants broadband services removed from this group, and reclassified under "Telecommunications Services." This group is where the phone companies live, and the classification opens companies under the FCC's purview to stricter laws and regulations.

2014 has been a tipping point for how the Internet is treated by corporations, and how it's used by American citizens. While the Internet has been largely open since its inception, broadband providers have been inching towards a tiered/pay-to-play system that could have far-reaching consequences. We've seen the first of such actions with Netflix paying Comcast and Verizon for priority access to its networks.

After President Obama's statement was released, Comcast's stock was down as much as 6.24 percent today, although it has regained some ground, now sitting at $53 per share.

Reactions to President Obama's remarks are starting to trickle in from Capitol Hill. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a reaction statement, saying "The Internet must not advantage some to the detriment of others. We cannot allow broadband networks to cut special deals to prioritize Internet traffic and harm consumers, competition and innovation." The statement also said the agency would "...incorporate the President's submission into the record of the Open Internet proceeding."

Senator Al Franken (D-MN), who has championed net neutrality for years, also issued a statement to the press, praising President Obama for bolstering his stance.

"I welcome today's news that President Obama is pressing the FCC to maintain a free and open Internet. He joins a chorus of more than 3.5 million Americans who have told the FCC that killing net neutrality is a terrible idea, and who strongly believe a very simple principle: there shouldn't be one Internet for deep-pocketed corporations and a separate Internet for everyone else.

"What the President is asking the FCC to do-to reclassify Internet service as a utility-is simply common sense, and it would ensure that rich corporations couldn't pay for an Internet fast lane. That's why over the summer, I and several of my colleagues urged the FCC to do just that.

"Net neutrality is a simple concept: all content on the Internet must travel at the same speed. It's been the architecture of the Internet since it was created. It's made the Internet a platform for enormous innovation and economic growth. And it should stay that way. I hope the FCC agrees."

Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) this morning said "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."

Corporations that are subject to such regulations are also chiming in. Netflix and Firefox have come out strongly in support of President Obama's statement, while Comcast and Verizon are asking for a less regulated approach to an open Internet.

"To attempt to impose a full-blown Title II regime now, when the classification of cable broadband has always been as an information service, would reverse nearly a decade of precedent, including findings by the Supreme Court that this classification was proper," said Comcast in a press release. Verizon has similar thoughts on the matter, saying that reclassification "would be a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open Internet, competition and innovation."

Source: WhiteHouse.gov

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I think this would in the long term do the public a major favor, so good move. Unfortunately he cant really make them do it, so it remains to be seen what effect the appeal actually has.

We've bent over backward to accommodate ISPs. That we're even talking about these propositions as though the concept of "undue burden" is even an issue is still disturbing in itself.

Yeah, no. Being a Libertarian, I'm not a fan of the FCC, but I can at least understand why they exist for Television and Radio. The Internet is a completely different beast, and all the FCC would do is destroy a majority of independent Websites or Websites people would find "offensive".

Keep the Internet AFAP (As Free As Possible).

Interesting the way he has weighed in on this, necessary though but I guess he should have thought about this before giving Tom Wheeler his job. Not sure how much power the POTUS has over there but he should find a way to get rid of him for "not serving the public" or some other reasons and offer the FCC position to anyone that will serve the public interest.

Mr.Mattress:
The Internet is a completely different beast, and all the FCC would do is destroy a majority of independent Websites or Websites people would find "offensive".

How do you figure that would happen?

Well, I would applaud Obama here...except the provisions he's fighting against are being imposed by one Mr. Tom Wheeler, the current head of the FCC; who wouldn't have his position if Obama didn't appoint him there last year.

It's probably my ignorance of process here, but Obama appears to be on the fast-track lame duck program between his exceptionally low approval rating, and his party losing a lot of power in this recent election.

To anyone more politically informed: How likely is Obama to put his money where his mouth is on this subject?

Mr.Mattress:
Yeah, no. Being a Libertarian, I'm not a fan of the FCC, but I can at least understand why they exist for Television and Radio. The Internet is a completely different beast, and all the FCC would do is destroy a majority of independent Websites or Websites people would find "offensive".

Well, the FCC is involved here no matter what now.
We either let Wheeler have his way, and buttfuck Internet Service in the US for years (if not decades) to come...
OR, we redress the business as something that can be held to regulation that MIGHT NOT end in disaster.

I dislike needless government intervention and micromanaging politics greatly, but as someone who has years of experience in computer networking (including in the cable business), I can assure you that right now, the private market isn't your friend at all. They HATE their customers and their customers largely hate them.

"Free Market" forces can only work if the market is actually free, and the ISPs in the United States have gone out of their way to prevent that so they don't have to compete at all.

Short Version: Libertarians are kinda out in the cold here either way.
It's kinda like deciding which hole you want violated after dropping the soap.

Isn't not gonna happen people, this is the End Times for free internet so enjoy it while you can.

OT: I'll believe it when I see it, there's no way we'll still have free internet like we use to.

Well Obama comes through with a solution. The problem is. again You americans have over the decades crafted the very political system that creates these kinds of problems. You're almost a plutocracy as opposed to a democracy or a republic.

Still classifying it as a Utility would be in the best interest of ending the debate because it's now almost on par with being a utility . Not having the internet or access to it is not unlike not having access to a phone, or water.

Good show Obama... you've served the ball well now let's see if the otherside fumbles.

Mr.Mattress:
Yeah, no. Being a Libertarian, I'm not a fan of the FCC, but I can at least understand why they exist for Television and Radio. The Internet is a completely different beast, and all the FCC would do is destroy a majority of independent Websites or Websites people would find "offensive".

Keep the Internet AFAP (As Free As Possible).

Its much easier to change government than it is a corporation, especially when that corporation has a monopoly. Not many places in the us have a choice of multiple ISPs and it isn't helped by the ISPs going as far as to try and make it illegal for towns to even setup a municipal broadband.

So how exactly would preventing this keep the internet as free as possible?

J Tyran:
Interesting the way he has weighed in on this, necessary though but I guess he should have thought about this before giving Tom Wheeler his job. Not sure how much power the POTUS has over there but he should find a way to get rid of him for "not serving the public" or some other reasons and offer the FCC position to anyone that will serve the public interest.

The article mentions that he was pro net neutrality before he was President, but sort of neglects the bit where he wasn't very much in favour of it for the last six years or so.

I'm sure, in that light, he did think about this before giving Tom Wheeler the job.

Candidate Obama and President Obama were at odds for quite some time.

And speaking of the article, now that it's been updated:

"'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."

Funny, I had no problem with the speed of my internet until Comcast got the right to throttle my gaming and streaming functions. Is it possible that the speed of private business operates slower than the speed of government?

"Obamacare for the Internet"- good Christ, Cruz, does anything come out of your mouth that isn't meaningless bullet-points, focus-tested to inspire mindless hatred in your dumbest constituents?

I think this is a good thing, and I hope it comes to pass, but there's no guarantee that an Obama appointee is required to follow his directives. This is the problem with appointing so many people who came out of, and are likely to return to, the industries they oversee...

dalek sec:
Isn't not gonna happen people, this is the End Times for free internet so enjoy it while you can.

I wouldn't count it out yet, ISPs may be multibillion dollar corporations that want the internet to not be classified as a utility, but they are quite literally the only ones in that position. There are many OTHER multibillion dollar corporations, including some minor sectors of the economy, whose interests align with the public on this one. For those making the laws on this matter, which do you think they're going to take, a bribe from the companies which will lead to the end of their careers, or a bribe from the companies which will get them re-elected?

"Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) this morning said "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.""

So, you mean, working?

Yep, good old Zombie Lies in their protective bubble.

Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) this morning said "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."

Uh, unlike Obamacare the internet has decades of service that has proven it works fine with the old model. Only after greedy corporations found a way to wring more money out of this country, did the government have to step in.

I can only hope people bring enough pitchforks and torches when the FCC readies it's verdict. As Wheeler can't be trusted, he'll need some extra persuasion to ignore the massive presents ISPs are sending him. A few weeks ago, he just tried to pass off that shady "two tiered" system again like it would benefit everyone, not just his corporate buds.

I also love how Verizon is still threatening to sue the FCC if the reclassification is passed. Some just won't let go of their ponzi scheme.

I swear to god, if Obama said we should make sure no one eats babies Ted Cruz would come out the next day and say that government should not determine if babies are worth eating or not, the free market should.

I hate Ted Cruz.

EDIT: Part of the problem I think is that the current generation of leadership didn't grow up with the internet and it isn't as ingrained in their daily life as much as it is for the rest of us. I don't know if anyone here has seen the video of president H.W. Bush (the senior Bush) being amazed at a barcode scanner at a grocery store, but these guys are always trailing the rest of us on technology issues.

This would be so great.

Amir Kondori:
EDIT: Part of the problem I think is that the current generation of leadership didn't grow up with the internet and it isn't as ingrained in their daily life as much as it is for the rest of us. I don't know if anyone here has seen the video of president H.W. Bush (the senior Bush) being amazed at a barcode scanner at a grocery store, but these guys are always trailing the rest of us on technology issues.

This post is 100% accurate. Go look up some of the old debate videos about SOPA, if you want to laugh (or cry).

I'm really not comfortable when a government Nationalizes anything. I don't think anyone would argue the Internet hasn't been steadily getting better of the years. I'd rather they just fix the issues rather than try to restructure the whole thing.

Amir Kondori:
I swear to god, if Obama said we should make sure no one eats babies Ted Cruz would come out the next day and say that government should not determine if babies are worth eating or not, the free market should.

I hate Ted Cruz.

Try being anti-water.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/are-conservatives-really-going-after-michelle-obama-for-promoting-water/

So I hate that Obama will be getting any sort of positive feedback for this, as he is the one who put the internet into jeopardy in the first place. He appointed Tom Wheeler (former top cable lobbyist) as the chairman of the FCC, knowing full well what would happen. He was hoping it would go unnoticed, and now that it's gotten this reaction he's trying to pretend he "strongly supports net-neutrality".

Atmos Duality:
Well, I would applaud Obama here...except the provisions he's fighting against are being imposed by one Mr. Tom Wheeler, the current head of the FCC; who wouldn't have his position if [i]Obama didn't appoint him there last year.

The provisions here are not being imposed by Wheeler. Net neutrality was struck down in court.

Wheeler was appointed subject to approval by congress. Since ISP are paying ALL the politicians who do you think would be appointed? Are there any regulatory positions that are not held by people who worked for the businesses they are supposed to regulate, or who aren't hired by that industry after they leave gov? The whole system is corrupt, this is just the business as usual.

Ukomba:
I'm really not comfortable when a government Nationalizes anything.I don't think anyone would argue the Internet hasn't been steadily getting better of the years. I'd rather they just fix the issues rather than try to restructure the whole thing.

No one in power is talking about nationalizing anything. Nationalizing would be if the government was the one you paid for internet rather than comcast/time warner.

The internet has steadily gotten better because net neutrality has been the law. We are not talking about changing the way things have been done on the internet. We are talking about NOT STARTING to give corporations free reign to do whatever they please.

Raziel:
The provisions here are not being imposed by Wheeler. Net neutrality was struck down in court.

Got a source for that?
Because as far as I understand it, the FCC is the executive interpreter for how such provisions work.
They're the ones that are holding a gun to our heads with this "fast lane" bullshit.

Wheeler was appointed subject to approval by congress. Since ISP are paying ALL the politicians who do you think would be appointed? Are there any regulatory positions that are not held by people who worked for the businesses they are supposed to regulate, or who aren't hired by that industry after they leave gov? The whole system is corrupt, this is just the business as usual.

Hey, I won't deny that the whole system is corrupt; that's the bread and butter of why I don't touch politics.
But I maintain my jab at Obama regardless.

http://business.time.com/2013/05/02/tom-wheeler-former-lobbyist-and-obama-fundraiser-tapped-to-lead-fcc/

I'm just saying; I find it ironic for Obama is crying for net neutrality when he had clear motivations to support Wheeler's nomination in the first place. If there is a clearer case of putting a fox in charge of the henhouse, I don't know it.

Atmos Duality:
Well, I would applaud Obama here...except the provisions he's fighting against are being imposed by one Mr. Tom Wheeler, the current head of the FCC; who wouldn't have his position if Obama didn't appoint him there last year.

True that. It also makes me wonder who exactly Tom Wheeler is playing for. He seems to flip-flop back and forth on the issue depending on who he's talking to: the citizens whom he is legally required to represent or his corporate chums who helped bolster him into that spot to begin with.

"Net neutrality" is the "Obamacare" of the internet? That just patently displays ignorance of either Obamacare, net neutrality, or both.

I could list at least 500 ways that "net neutrality" and "Obamacare" are totally different.

Might as well say:

The iPhone 6 is the Obamacare of Apple.

Crunchy peanut butter is the Obamacare of the peanut-butter and jelly military-industrial complex.

Mr.Mattress:
Yeah, no. Being a Libertarian, I'm not a fan of the FCC, but I can at least understand why they exist for Television and Radio. The Internet is a completely different beast, and all the FCC would do is destroy a majority of independent Websites or Websites people would find "offensive".

Keep the Internet AFAP (As Free As Possible).

They regulate the pipes, not what at the end of a pipe.

Atmos Duality:

Raziel:
The provisions here are not being imposed by Wheeler. Net neutrality was struck down in court.

Got a source for that?
Because as far as I understand it, the FCC is the executive interpreter for how such provisions work.
They're the ones that are holding a gun to our heads with this "fast lane" bullshit.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/01/14/d-c-circuit-court-strikes-down-net-neutrality-rules/

Rakschas:
I think this would in the long term do the public a major favor, so good move. Unfortunately he cant really make them do it, so it remains to be seen what effect the appeal actually has.

The President appoints one new commissioner for the FCC every year. One person who is already for it is up next year, and one who is against it is up the next. The Chairman is already for a version of Net Neutrality, but was probably asked to not do anything until after the election. Ether it will be in this next year, or it will be in early 2016 when Pai's term is up, and the President appoints someone who won't obstruct implementing it. As it stands they have enough votes for the Chairman's old compromise bill that was an attempt to get the two republicans on board, or we'll get a compromise free version of Net Neutrality.

Given the overwhelming public response to the FCC technical, dry, boring hearing on net neutrality they might be thinking of making it a platform issue for 2016. If the issue couldn't be killed by the droning of technocrat babble then it's probably a viable wedge issue. Why some conservatives want to fight the public on this is baffling.

iniudan:

They regulate the pipes, not what at the end of a pipe.

No, they definitely regulate what comes out the pipes. It's why George Carlin's "Seven Words you Can't Say on Television" exist! It's just that they're not in control of all of the pipes. If the Internet where to fall under their jurisdiction, though, then yes, they would regulate that pipe as well.

Raziel:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/01/14/d-c-circuit-court-strikes-down-net-neutrality-rules/

Oh that. I should have been more clear: Those aren't the provisions I was referring to, but the "fast lane" business which came AFTER that court decision killed net neutrality on a technicality.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-fcc-net-neutrality-20140425-story.html#ixzz30OcevUiX&page=1

Those provisions? Proposed by Tom Wheeler, of course.

medv4380:

Given the overwhelming public response to the FCC technical, dry, boring hearing on net neutrality they might be thinking of making it a platform issue for 2016. If the issue couldn't be killed by the droning of technocrat babble then it's probably a viable wedge issue. Why some conservatives want to fight the public on this is baffling.

It's to make sure that content on websites is not subject to government regulation.

The FCC regulated political speech in the past.

Mr.Mattress:

iniudan:

They regulate the pipes, not what at the end of a pipe.

No, they definitely regulate what comes out the pipes. It's why George Carlin's "Seven Words you Can't Say on Television" exist! It's just that they're not in control of all of the pipes. If the Internet where to fall under their jurisdiction, though, then yes, they would regulate that pipe as well.

That regulation for TV and radio station that broadcast over the air, you know public television and radio, you still free to do what the fuck you want through private channel (i.e. what you do when you subscribe to certain channels on cable and satellite or simply using the internet), as long as it not outright illegal, like child pornography.

That's cool the Democratic Party has decided to start getting our backs. I wonder what could have happened to bring about this change.

Ah, I see Australia isn't the only nation with idiot politicians who don't understand the internet and break out in a rash at the mere mention of the word 'regulation'. Good luck, America.

iniudan:

Mr.Mattress:
No, they definitely regulate what comes out the pipes. It's why George Carlin's "Seven Words you Can't Say on Television" exist! It's just that they're not in control of all of the pipes. If the Internet where to fall under their jurisdiction, though, then yes, they would regulate that pipe as well.

That regulation for TV and radio station that broadcast over the air, you know public television and radio, you still free to do what the fuck you want through private channel (i.e. what you do when you subscribe to certain channels on cable and satellite or simply using the internet), as long as it not outright illegal, like child pornography.

And if the FCC ruled over the internet, how could it be private? The reason cable and satellite have these private channals in the first place is because The FCC doesn't have control over Cable and Satellites. So if they gained control over the Internet, as President Obama is asking them to do, there would be no private Channels, as all of them would be ruled by the FCC...

And if people have to pay $3,000 dollars every time they say a swear word on the Internet, that would be insanity.

I'm starting to think this guy was right...

medv4380:

Given the overwhelming public response to the FCC technical, dry, boring hearing on net neutrality they might be thinking of making it a platform issue for 2016. If the issue couldn't be killed by the droning of technocrat babble then it's probably a viable wedge issue. Why some conservatives want to fight the public on this is baffling.

\Because if it succeeds, this will mean more money in the hands of rich white old people who never worked a day in their lives, and anyone who isn't rich suffering. Which has been the closest thing the Republicans have to a strategy since 1980.

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