Obama 'unequivocally committed' to net neutrality

The White House expects that the Federal Communications Commission will develop new net neutrality rules that prevent the creation of tiered Internet, President Obama said Thursday.

"My appointee, [FCC Chairman] Tom Wheeler, knows my position. Now that he's there I can't just call him up and tell him what to do ... [but] we expect whatever final rules to emerge to make sure we're not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet," Obama said. "That's a big priority of mine."

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Obama acknowledged that an initial proposal on net neutrality presented by Wheeler had generated concern among proponents of an open Internet.  

In 2010, a federal appeals court ordered the FCC to rewrite rules that prevented broadband Internet providers from blocking or slowing legal Internet content. 

The replacement rules released earlier this year by Wheeler did not include a provision explicitly discouraging content providers from paying for priority access to broadband.

That's led critics to worry the proposal allowed for so-called Internet "fast lanes," which would allow service providers to charge bandwidth-heavy services like Netflix and YouTube to prioritize their traffic. Critics say such a move would inevitably slow service for companies that don't pay — and, as a result, cripple competition and digital innovation.

Telecom companies have said they want to keep an open Internet but are worried that strict rules prohibiting paid priority services could create regulatory headaches and ultimately do more harm than good.

Obama said Thursday he was opposed to "paid prioritization" and concerned about the economic consequences.

"I made a commitment very early on that I am unequivocally committed to net neutrality," Obama said. "I think it's what has unleashed the power of the internet and we don't want to lose that or clog up the pipes."