st summer, I argued that U.S. President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to push for “net neutrality” might end up being “the biggest technology-related failure of [his] presidency.” Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all traffic that goes through their networks the same, not offering preferential treatment to some websites over others or charging some companies arbitrary fees to reach users. Obama had supported the concept during his initial presidential campaign, but stood by while his own appointees to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a different position, one much closer to that of vested interests in the telecommunications industry (who care more about increasing profits than maintaining an open Internet).
Last week, however, the president finally stepped up to the plate, releasing a video and a detailed plan calling on the FCC to adopt the “the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.” He said the commission should embrace bright-line rules, without loopholes, and on the strongest legal authority (Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act), so that it doesn’t lose in court on this issue for a third consecutive time. It was, in short, the most accurate, well-informed, and important statement ever issued by a public official on the topic of Internet freedom.
Read the full piece at Foreign Affairs.