Following up on his vocal support over the last few months, President Obama reinforced his stance on net neutrality in his sixth State of the Union address last night. “Twenty-first century businesses need 21st century infrastructure. Modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet,” Obama declared, “I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”
Last November, President Obama released a statement urging the FCC to support “the basic principles of openness, fairness, and freedom. There are no gatekeepers deciding which sites you get to access.”
Some, such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, have criticized Obama’s call to action condemning it as “Obamacare for the Internet.” Regardless of politics, turning a blind eye to the fundamental freedoms protected under net neutrality may be the single most important issue weighing on the digital world as a whole.
Net neutrality ensures that all websites are treated equally regardless of content and competition. If an electronics business, for instance, has a website online, net neutrality allows their site the opportunity to load as quickly as any other website. If this protection is eradicated, cable companies would be free to charge premiums to ensure competitive speed of access. With these premiums in place, the small business would have to contend with what could amount to prohibitive costs to ensure competitive consumer speed of access to match bigger corporations like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. “There are no toll roads on the information superhighway,” Obama contends.
The FCC is reported to vote on the heated issue of net neutrality this February.
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