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Obama seeks ban on Internet 'fast lane' deals

November 11, 2014 12:04 IST

Developers and programmers participate in a coding challenge in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.Seeking an ‘explicit ban’ on paid prioritisation on the web, President Barack Obama has said that Internet service providers shouldn't be allowed to cut deals with online services, so that no service is stuck in a ‘slow lane’ without paying a fee.

The move experts said would ban companies from cutting deals for faster service.

"No service should be stuck in a 'slow lane' because it does not pay a fee," Obama, who is travelling to China now, said in a Web video released by the White House.

"That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet's growth.

“So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritisation and any other restriction that has a similar effect," Obama said.

Asserting that Internet service providers should treat all web traffic equally, Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission to implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

Obama said an ‘open Internet’ is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life.

By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratising influences the world has ever known, he argued.

"Net neutrality has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation -- but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted.

“We cannot allow Internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.

"That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission to answer the call of almost 4  million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality," Obama said.

The President's plan would reclassify consumer broadband services under what's known as Title II of the Telecommunications Act, and would work to ‘ensure the network works for everyone -- not just one or two companies,’ the White House said on Monday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A Waxman describe this as a great day for the Internet.

"The President has called on the FCC to adopt the three cornerstones of a free and open Internet:  no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritisation," he said.

"The FCC should now move expeditiously to complete the rulemaking and establish the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritisation that define a free and open Internet," Waxman said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said  the Internet cannot belong to the wealthy and well-connected; it must be an open space for innovation, entrepreneurship, and communication -- a level playing field where success is founded on the best ideas, not the deepest pockets.

Image: Developers and programmers participate in a coding challenge in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Photograph: Richard Brian/Reuters

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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