President Obama may have finally found a subject that he will not face extreme Congressional opposition when engaging on. In fact, he might have found an issue that he can actively sing his opinion with little opposition at all within the political spectrum. However, that will include some serious changes, and changes that will undoubtedly be challenged in court for the next several years potentially.
His call is for strict regulation by the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC to completely reclassify broadband as a utility. This is a move that has been talked about for some time, and one that even leaders within the FCC acknowledged as a distinct possibility. Obama said in a statement, “I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online.”
His strong sentiments are ones that are backed up fruitfully by those in favor of free and equal Internet, but vigorously fought by the cable and telecom companies that currently control the profits in the Internet business. That said, these changes would not just undoubtedly create a stir, and set off a chain of lawsuits and court filings, but would impact the bottom line of those very companies.
The debate ultimately hinges around the notion that ultimately control over internet speeds, the creating of fast lanes, and much more than that have made policy makers believe that it could very well be in the best interest of the people in the United States to make the internet the same type of utility that electricity is, for example, to ensure that it cannot be taken advantage of by companies who are more concerned with profits than actual equality of the product customers receive.
Those who support net neutrality have long-supported the concept of reclassifying ISP’s under Title II of the Communications Act. That would give the FCC the authority and power to regulate how the companies operate. This would allow them also to ensure that companies, or carriers could not block Web traffic, or favor select services which could have made behind-the-scenes arrangements or business deals.
Companies like Comcast and Verizon are not in favor of the reclassification, for obvious reasons, but contend that for the same reasons the President urged, would set back the Internet decades, and “would apply 1930s-era utility regulation to the Internet,” which would “be a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open Internet.”