Obama Outlines Internet Policy Agenda

Joanne Cachapero
CHICAGO — Presidential candidate Barack Obama released a technology policy paper outlining his position on Internet governance should he become president.

Some key points contained in the report included “ensuring a full and free exchange of information among Americans through an open Internet and diverse media outlets,” as well as deploying “next generation broadband” and preservation of 1st Amendment rights while protecting children.

The statement was issued by the Barack for President campaign in advance of Obama’s upcoming visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

In the report, Illinois Sen. Obama defined network neutrality as "the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some websites and Internet applications over others.”

He reiterated his support of network neutrality, saying that “because most Americans only have a choice of only one or two broadband carriers, carriers are tempted to impose a toll charge on content and services, discriminating against websites that are unwilling to pay for equal treatment.

"This could create a two-tiered Internet in which websites with the best relationships with network providers can get the fastest access to consumers, while all competing websites remain in the slower lane. Such a result would threaten innovation, the open tradition and architecture of the Internet.”

Believing that the U.S. should lead the world in Internet access and broadband penetration, Obama would “redefine broadband,” which is currently defined at 200 kbps. By increasing broadband speeds as a matter of national policy, the candidate hopes to bring the Internet infrastructure current with speeds needed to accommodate communications in the 21st century.

Obama said also that he would appoint the nation’s first-ever chief technology officer, to ensure that all governmental agencies had the infrastructure, policies and services for the future, as well as safeguarding the safety of their networks.

The CTO also would oversee technology systems developed to implement various governmental functions, such as the development of an interoperable wireless network for local, state and federal first responders as recommended by the 9/11 commission.

Also the CTO would be focused on “transparency,” by making sure that each arm of the Federal government maintained open and accessible records as mandated by the E-Government Act.

He proposes also revamping the Universal Service Reform program, which applies mainly to voice communication, into a program that would support online affordable broadband and would focus on increased accessibility for under-served areas.

Obama’s policy statement may have been brought on partially by political activist group MoveOn.org’s campaign to encourage Congress to mandate network neutrality policy that, according to the group, was recently eliminated by the FCC.

The group has said that it is encouraging Sen. Hillary Clinton to add network neutrality to her Internet policy, as well.