Only Obama's a little bit neutral on value of net neutrality

As expected by everyone--even opponents--the FCC voted 3-2 to "preserve basic Internet values" via a "strong, sensible non-ideological framework," as Chairman Julius Genachowski put it and just as predictably voices from both sides of the political spectrum were raised in opposition.

Known colloquially as net neutrality, the FCC Order puts some, but not as many as some would want, restrictions on the Internet. For instance, it bans content blocking and requires that ISPs deliver "reasonable" network management and packet distribution. It also exempts wireless broadband from the rules. On the other hand, it does allow managed services to be delivered over last-mile broadband even as it monitors these services for anti-competitive behavior.

President Obama was among the few political voices who seemed pleased with the order, saying it "will help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet." The goal, he said, is to walk the fine line between regulation and freedom. "We don't want to create a bunch of gateways that prevent somebody who doesn't have a lot money but has a good idea from being able to start either next YouTube or their next Google on the Internet."

Aside from those consiliatory comments, the issue divided political forces across liberal and conservative lines. The liberal Media Access Project, which wanted more regulation, called it a "watered down, loophole-ridden option" while conservatives from Free State Foundation were adamant in the other direction and FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell labeling it as "one of the darkest days in recent FCC history."

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