President Obama threw down the gauntlet Monday with cable companies and Internet providers by declaring they shouldn’t be allowed to cut deals with online services like YouTube to move their content faster.
It was his most definitive statement to date on so-called “net neutrality,” and escalates a battle that has been simmering for years between industry groups and Internet activists who warn against the creation of Internet “fast lanes.” The president’s statement swiftly drew an aggressive response from trade groups, which are fighting against additional regulation, as well as congressional Republicans.
“We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and calling for extreme” regulation, said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry.
Obama, in his statement, called for an “explicit ban” on “paid prioritization,” or better, faster service for companies that pay extra. The president said federal regulators should reclassify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.
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