A central achievement of former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was to put together a set of regulations that required Internet providers to treat all traffic the same. But the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals while affirming the FCC’s power to regulate the Internet, overturned these FCC regulations that keep Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to certain websites. The court said the FCC has authority over Internet providers, but exceeded its jurisdiction by regulating Internet providers as heavily as it regulates telephone companies. In practice this means that Comcast, Verizon and others can throttle certain Internet applications such as BitTorrent or charge sites like Google, Facebook and Netflix for different speeds. The new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has advocated for net neutrality rules that include "fast lanes".
The President has made clear since he was a candidate that he strongly supports net neutrality and an open Internet. Last week President Obama reaffirmed his position,
“One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That’s the big controversy here. So you have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster.
I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users. You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.”
The President's statement has been quoted and supported by an open letter from a number of organizations including Mozilla, Etsy, Kickstarter, ACLU, and the Rural Broadband Policy Group. The Internet Asssociation, which includes Amazon, ebay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Uber, Paypal, Vimeo, Netflix, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Monster, Groupon and other internet technology companies, is also record supporting net neutrality.