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It's an issue that's been gathering steam since before President Obama took office, but now he seems to be making it a priority of his last two years in office. So reports the Economist.

The president has come out strongly in favor of so-called "net neutrality" – the premise that all information made available on the Internet should be treated (and regulated) equally, so as to ensure that the Web is an open playing field providing equal access to all users.

It sounds good from consumer and business standpoints, but the underlying issues are more complicated. The Internet came of age under telecommunications laws that had been established under traditional telephony. Hence, information that is transmitted is classified as either "information services," which are largely unregulated and currently include Web-based data; and "telecommunication services," which are subject to all matter of rules and regs.

Now that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are relying more heavily on streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, many industry observers feel that large Internet providers ought to fall more in the second category. The ISPs worry that stricter rules will impede their ability to charge more for faster broadband service, which is seen as necessary for optimal streaming capability. Obama may want net neutrality to be part of his legacy, but economic realities could push the debate past his term in office.

Read the full article from the Economist.

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