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Obama Asks FCC to Adopt Tough Net Neutrality Rules

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FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

Efforts to address net neutrality have failed to advance in the U.S. Congress during the last decade.

Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama on Monday called on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) as public utilities in his strongest show of support for open Internet standards.

Obama specifically called on the FCC and chairman Tom Wheeler, an Obama appointee, to reclassify Internet service as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which established the FCC and regulated telephone and radio communications.

The FCC is an independent agency the president has less influence over than does Congress, but Obama's call to action Monday was still lauded by advocates for an open Internet, including streaming content providers such as Netflix, which would benefit from the president's proposal. Meanwhile, major ISPs such as Verizon objected to the proposal, as did their allies in Congress.

The FCC has been working to craft new rules regulating Internet service since its previous rules were struck down by the courts earlier this year. New rules proposed by the agency earlier this year would have allowed for the creation of tiered levels of service, with the option for ISPs to charge content providers a higher rate for access to better service.

Analysts say the issue likely will depend on whether Internet access is considered a necessity, like electricity, or just another consumer option, like cable TV.

From The New York Times
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