Obama Backs Net Neutrality

President calls on FCC to prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling Internet access.


United States president Barack Obama on Monday spoke out about the importance of an open Internet, calling on the Federal Communications Commission to keep net neutrality intact. He has urged the government agency to not allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block or throttle access to the Internet, which he says is "essential to the American economy."

"There should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services," a statement posted to the White House press site reads.

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"And as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers new rules for how to safeguard competition and user choice, we cannot take that principle of net neutrality for granted," it added. "Ensuring a free and open Internet is the only way we can preserve the Internet's power to connect our world."

Net neutrality has been a hotly debated topic, and it could have ties to gaming as more and more games become online-centric. All Internet traffic should be treated equally, net neutrality supporters say. Meanwhile, advocates for a different set of rules suggest that a "toll road" system should be implemented for companies with high traffic requirements.

As GameSpot sister site CNET notes, this has led to concerns that ISPs could intentionally diminish bandwidth speeds for some while offering better connections for others.

Under the terms of a new plan, Obama has asked the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a utility, because for most Americans "the Internet has become an essential part of everyday communication."

"We cannot allow Internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas," he added.

Obama's plan would have some "clear, monitored" exceptions for specialized services such as Internet access at hospitals, the president said.

The FCC is an independent agency, with the power to make decisions on its own. It's unclear when the group will announce its new set of rules, though CNET reports that it might not be until 2015.

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