Obama commits to protecting “free and open Internet”

Expressing his commitment to a “free and open Internet,” President Obama on Friday said he was confident the Federal Communication Commission would find a way to get past a court ruling that struck down net neutrality rules.

“We live under a system when a court rules we have to respect that ruling initially, but the FCC, I know, and [FCC commissioner] Tom Wheeler are looking at all the options at their disposal,” Mr. Obama said in an online discussion, facilitated by Google, with Americans across the U.S.

While the FCC is independent of the administration, Mr. Obama said he’s confident Wheeler supports net neutrality. He added, “You can feel confident this administration will continue to support that.”

Court throws out FCC's "net neutrality" rules

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court struck down an FCC rule intended to ensure net neutrality. Net neutrality refers to the idea that broadband providers must treat all Internet traffic equally -- in other words, providers like Verizon or AT&T shouldn’t be able to give preferential treatment or faster access to some websites (like Facebook or Google) over other websites.

The court did find that the FCC has "general authority" to regulate telecommunications. However, it argued that the FCC itself classified broadband providers in a way that exempted them from this type of regulation.

“The question now is how do they use that authority,” Mr. Obama said.

The president said that net neutrality is “something I’ve cared deeply about ever since I ran for office in part because my own campaign was empowered by a free and open Internet and the ability for citizens all across this country to engage.”

He added, “A lot of that couldn't have been done if there were commercial barriers and roadblocks.”