updated 03:47 pm EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
No comment given regarding possible Title II regulation of ISPs
President Obama, fielding a question at a press event, has decried part of US Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler's "net neutrality" proposal. Speaking before the US Africa Leaders Summit, the president claims that "you don't want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users" and that the proposal needs to "leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed."
Wheeler's proposal for net neutrality prevents companies from downgrading Internet traffic in their own favor, but also opens up the opportunity for Internet service providers to charge extra for faster content delivery, codifying such deals as those penned by Netflix with Comcast and Verizon. Wheeler claims that the FCC will not tolerate actions by ISPs that "degrade the service for all for the benefit of a few," despite the inherent contradiction in having "fast lanes" in the first place. The chairman has threatened to regulate the Internet under common carrier "Title II" laws, should the ISPs fail to abide by regulations set forth by the FCC, or if they abuse the "fast lane" concept in any way. Providers have strongly bristled at the notion.
Ignoring the possibility of Title II regulation of Internet service providers, the President noted that "one of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That's the big controversy here. You have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster."
The president has been mostly silent during this net neutrality debate and during previous court rulings overturning it, despite making it an underpinning of his initial presidential campaign. The FCC has made no statements regarding the president's disapproval of the "fast lane" concept.