President urges FCC to protect net neutrality

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President Obama Monday took a stand on the issue of net neutrality and asked the FCC to protect net neutrality.

President Obama Monday did something a lot of activists have been calling for, he took a stand on the issue of net neutrality.

In a video message to the public, Obama left no doubts about his position.

"I'm urging the Federal Communications Commission to do everything they can to protect net neutrality for everyone," he said.

It's a stand some felt was long overdue.

"There's a lot of attempts to create what are called fast lanes on the Internet where they charge for extra fast connections," CNET Executive Editor Ian Sherr.

Think of it like a freeway with hot lanes with a high occupancy toll where drivers can pay to cruise in the fast lane, leaving all the other drivers stuck behind in traffic.

That's what Comcast has asked Netflix to do, pay extra to keep its streaming movies from hitting a traffic jam on the way to customers' computers.

"A startup company that's doing a lot of video they don't have the money all the time to create and pay for these fast lanes," Sherr said.

That's why the president says it could stifle innovation.

"Cable customers should not be able to decide which online stores you can shop at, or what streaming services you can use," Obama said his video.

His proposal make the Internet a utility under the same act that regulates phone companies and guarantees they can't discriminate.

Watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste warns it could backfire, tangling the very companies that are building the Internet in layers of bureaucracy.

"When you burden something as innovative as the Internet with Title II regulations, 1934 regulations, you're going to find that innovation is going to be stymied," Citizens Against Government Waste Spokeswoman Deborah Collier said.

In San Francisco, startup types say they're not worried about that.

"I would actually support the idea of internet as a utility," one person said.

Though they're not impressed with the president's timing.

"I think it's mildly convenient just after the elections," said another person.

In the end, it's not up to the president. The FCC will make its own decision in the coming months.

Related Topics:
technologypoliticsu.s. & worldinternetnetflixcomcastsilicon valleypresident barack obamaFCCSan Francisco
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