By Francisco Casillas |Staff Writer|
On Nov. 10, in a move that could decide the internet’s future, President Barack Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect the internet as an open, accessible and free service, known as “net neutrality.”
Obama believes the FCC should, “implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality” by reclassifying consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which acts as a utility service.
This would restrict Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking service to certain websites and force them to treat all Internet sites the same, whether they are large media corporations, such as Netflix or Hulu, or small start-ups.
“There are no gatekeepers deciding which sites you get to access nor toll roads on the information highway,” said Obama about the goal of an open Internet.
“Abandoning these principles will be the end of the Internet as we know it,” continued Obama.
Although, Republicans and several investment groups oppose the plan stating the, “regulation was heavy-handed and would kill online investment and innovation,” according to the New York Times.
Obama also mentioned that the Internet should be treated like electricity, a public utility per se, and that it should be a reliable way to access content produced by anyone, regardless of whether they have any special business arrangements with the utility.
“Internet is open sourced and therefore should stay the same,” said Kyle Baxter, a computer science major.
“Purposely limiting Internet power to the users is not right and would change the way we consume it,” added Baxter.
Computer Science major Victor Lopez also voiced his concern about companies controlling website access for users and also said Internet control should remain the same.
“The way television companies handle their content sometimes you get restricted to certain channels, is not the way I want it to go and not the way I want the Internet to behave,” said Lopez.
Netflix, an Internet content company that streams shows and movies, cheered Obama’s proposed plan in a Facebook post stating, “Consumers should pick winners and losers on the Internet, not broadband gatekeepers.”
“The president represents our interests and it alights to net neutrality,” said Sabrina Roberts, a graduate teaching associate.
“When Obama takes that stance, it sends a message because it shows that the deferral government is connected to net neutrality. It is a moral issue and necessary for the 21st Century to function. That’s why we don’t need companies like telecommunications to regulate the Internet,” added Roberts.
FCC is an independent agency who doesn’t answer to the president but more to Congress, according to the Los Angeles Times. The commission needs three out of five member votes to pass any regulation.
Tom Wheeler, appointed by Obama as the FCC chairman, is close to settling on a plan that echoes what Obama urged.
“It’s still going to be an issue even when they have finally made a vote, a never-ending debate. The question to then ask [activists for net neutrality] is what they intend to do with their content once they have control,” added Baxter.
Baxter hopes “that it doesn’t get to the point where the internet is controlled. Or else it may monopolize the Internet source when it should be done freely.”