Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Obama's Stance on Net Neutrality and What that Means to You

This past Monday a video was posted on the White House website calling for strict net neutrality in regards to the internet.

What is net neutrality?  Well, to quote Neil Irwin of the New York Times Upfront, the difference between our current state of affairs and rules with Net Neutrality enforced is comparable to the difference between "cable and electricity" respectively.  Whereas cable providers have the authority to charge you for different packages where different channels etc. are provided, when you pay for electricity you are simply paying to use it and the electric company has no power over what you use it on.  The latter is what Obama would suggest the internet be classified as -- Net Neutrality.

Earlier this year video-streaming site Netflix made headlines by showing that internet service provider Comcast was slowing down service on their website.  In response, Netflix has been making deals to provide faster speeds on their website.  Not only would Obama's plan for net-neutrality outlaw agreements such as this one, but it would also outlaw providers ability to slow down certain websites.

Because this is just a statement and not by any means enacted law, it lies to the FCC to make any moves towards or against the President's wishes.

It should come as no surprise that big business and many Republicans are strongly opposed to such action.  Their primary argument being one against regulation, which they believe will slow "innovation and job creation" (Rappeport).

Despite this a majority of Americans who actually understand Net Neutrality, an admittedly low 41.1%, find Net Neutrality favorable.  Additionally, while Republicans in Congress have slammed Net Neutrality, a poll by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance -- a Net Neutrality favorable organization -- found that Conservatives actually agree with much of Net Neutrality. What they found was that:
"83% of voters who self-identified as 'very conservative' were concerned about the possibility of ISPs having the power to “influence content” online."

"83% of self-identified conservatives thought that Congress should take action to ensure that cable companies do not “monopolize the Internet” or “reduce the inherent equality of the Internet” by charging some content companies for speedier access."

What do you think?

Should the internet be subject to Net Neutrality regulations?
How do you react to Obama making this a national issue?
Is there really such a disconnect between Republicans in Congress and the conservatives across the country?  Or is this just polling non-sense?


Murray Sandmeyer said...

It is admirable for Obama to finally speak up on this issue, as it has been brewing for the past year. His plan makes sense for preserving the freedom on the internet, since it will redefine broadband as an essential mode of communication and prevent telecom companies from creating any fast lanes or restricting content flow.

The most concerning aspect of this announcement, however, is whether or not conservatives in the electorate will begin to oppose net neutrality. Some people might take an opposing side just because Obama is at one side, as we have seen with that horribly inaccurate Ted Cruz tweet.

Either way, the FCC has set a deadline for action on net neutrality by December, so hopefully they will side with Obama on this one.

Emma Wynn said...

I agree with Murray about Obama bringing this issue to national attention. It does not seem fair to me that certain companies can have fast lanes and almost create a monopoly on the internet just because they pay more. The internet should not come down to something like that because it should be a place of more freedom. The argument that it creates jobs and competition does not make sense to me because there are other more innovative ways to do that than creating this weird slow lane/fast lane thing.
I hope that Congress will vote for net neutrality. The Republican dominance in both houses makes me weary, I think that net neutrality will pull through.

Kevin Ruttenberg said...

It's really good that Obama took a stance on this issue. I feel that while some might think that he's just pandering for popularity, I feel he's truly sincere because he has no direct power over what happens. He can only state his opinion and hope for the best. I never thought about it but what Murrey said about Republicans opposing it just because Obama said it is, horrifically, a ligitimate fear. That might be a course of action. I like how it seems as of late the idea of "fast lane, and faster lane" has been seen for what it is...not true. I also fear the Robert's Supreme Court, which has taken a somewhat conservative stance, and might oppose net neutrality. Though I do see it as unlikely that that would happen because when a net neutrality-ish case Brand X went to the Supreme Court in 2005 Scalia and Ginsburg sided with net neutrality. However, Scalia did see the option for reclassification to Tittle II as an overreach to upset the governmental balance.

Stephen Schick said...

Unfortunately it is looking like Murray's prediction has come to fruition as it seems that the more conservative side of the media (cough cough Fox News) has reacted rather negatively to Obama's announcement, framing it as Obama and the government seeking to further regulate the currently free internet. This is rather unfortunate considering if you draw away the obvious bias drummed up by Fox News in order to show Obama in a negative light it is revealed that the majority of conservatives would be in support of net neutrality. What those at Fox News seem to fail to understand and convey is that net neutrality is not an issue of a government-controlled internet vs a free internet but an issue of a free market, unregulated internet vs an internet maintained and controlled by corporations. And considering economic conservatives are generally in favor of a free market it is sad that a false portrayal of net neutrality in the conservative media may result in some supporting its removal.

Ben Maison said...

Regulations are important in the economy. If done right, they provide protections for competition and consumers. In the case of the internet, net neutrality is essential to keeping the internet untainted. I'm frankly happy that Obama has picked up this issue. It having presidential backing has the potential to actually create a winning situation for net-neutrality advocates. The downside to him picking up this issues, however, is that Republicans can (and already have) spoken out against it due to the endorsement. As pointed out, Ted Cruz's comment that it was Obamacare for the internet was mind-numbingly dumb and he deserved every bit of backlash he got online. Playing anti-obama has helped them out in the recent election and riding off that recent victory, it's unlikely they're gonna stop being plain contrarian--although, there's also the element of money involved. Cruz, for instance, has received money from Comcast so it's hard not to write him off as a high powered corporate shill