President Barack Obama praised the Federal Communications Commission for its vote Tuesday to adopt network neutrality regulations on broadband access services, suggesting it was fulfilling, at least in part, his campaign pledge of an open Internet.
The decision was 3-2 along party lines, with the two Republicans passionately opposed.
"Today's decision will help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet while encouraging innovation, protecting consumer choice, and defending free speech," the President said in a statement. "Throughout this process, parties on all sides of this issue - from consumer groups to technology companies to broadband providers - came together to make their voices heard. This decision is an important component of our overall strategy to advance American innovation, economic growth, and job creation."
Obama pointed out in his statement that as a candidate he had pledged "to preserve the freedom and openness that have allowed the Internet to become a transformative and powerful platform for speech and expression."
He said that would be an ongoing commitment: "That's a pledge I'll continue to keep as President. As technology and the market continue to evolve at a rapid pace, my Administration will remain vigilant and see to it that innovation is allowed to flourish, that consumers are protected from abuse, and that the democratic spirit of the Internet remains intact."
The President also congratulated Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) whose ultimately unsuccessful attempt at compromise network neutrality legislation provided some of the groundwork for the FCC's compromise order.
The Obama Administration has made Internet access a foreign policy goal as well. The State Department has given a shout-out to global network openness in a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January. She said that governments should not prevent people from connecting to web sites and each other. She likened the freedom to connect to the Internet to freedom of assembly during a speech that mirrored the Four Freedoms speech of Franklin Roosevelt.