President touts net neutrality win during State of the Union

President Obama on Tuesday night touted the government’s strong net neutrality rules but also alluded to a need to blunt the spread of terrorism online. 

During his final State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Obama made a few brief mentions of issues important to the technology community. 

In a portion of his speech meant to highlight the spirit of discovery in the United States, the president pointed to agency wins aimed at getting more people online and protecting the Internet through net neutrality rules. 

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“We’ve protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online,” he said to applause from Democrats. “We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.”

In a divided vote last year, the Federal Communications Commission passed sweeping net neutrality rules, which reclassified broadband service under stricter common carrier regulations. The increased authority was meant to prevent Internet service providers from prioritizing some pieces of Internet traffic over others. 

In the past year, the FCC also voted to boost the funding cap on a program that provides Internet service for schools and libraries. And the agency has voted to begin drafting rules to expand its Lifeline program to help subsidize Internet service for low-income Americans. 

During the speech, he also said all schools should begin “offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes” in the coming years. 

Obama also pointed to threats on the Internet, specifically from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In the wake of a pair of terrorist attacks last year, his administration has pushed technology companies to do more to blunt the terrorist group’s social media reach. 

“They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies,” he said.