It looks like we did it. After our meeting with senior White House officials two weeks ago, U.S. President Barack Obama has spoken out against Big Telecom’s Internet slow lane plan, and voiced support for the open Internet and real net neutrality.
This is a crucial development in the fight to safeguard the open Internet. Obama has the power to stop the slow lane plane, and we need to ensure he doesn't buckle under pressure from Big Telecom lobbyists.
During a question and answer period in Santa Monica, California, yesterday, the President said that he opposes any sort of “paid prioritization” online – that is, the idea that Big Telecom can force our favorite websites into an Internet Slow Lane for all but the giant conglomerates who can afford exorbitant new “prioritization” fees.
Specifically, Obama said:
"I made a commitment very early on that I am unequivocally committed to Net Neutrality… I think it is what has unleashed the power of the Internet, and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes… I know that one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet: that is something I’m opposed to.”
Now, immediately after our meeting with White House advisors, we told our community two things:
First, we pointed out that, “Not only did the President appoint FCC Chair Tom Wheeler in the first place, he also has the power to demote him.” This is still true, and it’s why it’s so important that he’s finally speaking up. The President could very easily strip Wheeler of his status as Chairman, allowing a pro-net neutrality Commissioner to step up in his place.
Second, this meeting would have never happened without you speaking up. Over 5.1 million Internet users from 180 countries have demanded that decision-makers do the right thing and ensure that the Internet remains a level playing field. People are working together across national boundaries to save the open Internet and ensure that the power over the net that we built together is not taken away from citizens and handed over to giant telecom conglomerates.
You may not live in the U.S., but unfortunately many of your favourite websites do – making the implications of the Internet slow lane significant for users everywhere. As OpenMedia community member Paul N points out on Facebook:
...As I get it now, it wouldn't make much of a difference if sites moved on to other countries if the pages still had to travel through the US. This country is trying to take advantage of its position at the core of Internet. There's no large capacity pipe between Canada and Europe or Asia or South America that doesn't go through the now-undemocratic US.
Your OpenMedia team will continue to follow this issue, and work around the clock to keep the pressure up until the FCC makes their decision later this year. In the meantime, be sure to speak out at https://BigTelecomVsTheWorld.org/ to have your name added to one of the largest Internet freedom campaigns in history.
You can find a full video of Obama’s comments on net neutrality below: