Net neutral­ity supporters applaud Obama

Supporters of net neutrality in San Francisco applauded President Barack Obama‘s efforts Monday to protect net neutrality by urging the Federal Communications Commission to keep access to the Internet free and open.

April Glaser, an activist at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said she was delighted, albeit surprised, to hear Obama come out in strong support of net neutrality.

Glaser said ever since the FCC classified the Internet as an information service, instead of an essential telecommunication service in 2002, cable companies have been trying to lobby the FCC to do away with net neutrality.

The elimination of net neutrality would be a form of censorship, according to Glaser, because it would slow down sites that can’t afford to pay, allowing only large sites to survive.

Obama said Monday that the Internet is based on principles of openness, fairness and freedom. He said that in order to keep access to the Internet available to everyone and prevent “toll roads on the information super highway,” net neutrality must be protected:

“This set of principles, the idea of net neutrality, has unleashed the power of the Internet and given innovators the chance to thrive. Abandoning these principles would threaten to end the Internet as we know it.”

Obama urged the FCC to protect net neutrality and noted that currently, Internet providers have a legal obligation not to block or limit a users access to a website and that companies cannot pay for priority over competitors.

The President publicly urged the FCC to reclassify Internet service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, following more than 4 million requests by the public, to let the consumer, not the cable company, decide how and where they spend their time online.

Glaser said Obama’s statement makes her very hopeful, but said it’s important not to forget that:

“Just because Obama has come out in favor… doesn’t mean it’s won.”

She said that companies such as Los Gatos-based Netflix, which allows users to stream movies and shows online for a set price, require net neutrality to function at the speeds they do now.

Glaser said that initially the FCC was planning to do away with net neutrality, but since the public outcry has been so loud, and so strong with protests and petitions, the FCC is hearing the “call for freedoms online to be preserved.”

Among the San Francisco Bay Area companies that have joined a national coalition to fight for net neutrality are Reddit, Imgur, Y Combinator and Netflix, among others, according to the website http://www.battleforthenet.com.