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Local Progressives Rejoice After Obama Finally Backs Net Neutrality

Upcoming political and legal battles will determine the internet's future

Upcoming political and legal battles will determine the internet's future

In a statement that drew nonsensical metaphors from the right and belated optimism from the left, President Obama finally publicly supported equal internet access for all yesterday.

Obama's statement set the stage for a legal and political battle newly re-elected Sen. Al Franken has repeatedly called "the First Amendment Issue of our time."

See also: The Fall of Net Neutrality: Cable's Plot to Destroy the Internet

Essentially, net neutrality is a concept that demands all internet providers give equal access to all customers, that no company or entity can pay extra to insure faster service.

"What the president is asking the FCC to do -- to reclassify internet service as a utility -- is simply common sense, and it would ensure that rich corporations couldn't pay for an internet fast lane," Franken said in a statement yesterday. US Rep. Keith Ellison also issued a statement lauding Obama's support yesterday.

Obama originally stated his support for net neutrality on the 2008 campaign trail, but has since steered clear of the issue.

"I could not tell you why it took so long. It's been a mystery. Perhaps he thinks net neutrality is too technical, or not a popular political issue, but I disagree. I think most Americans, especially young Americans, understand the importance of this," said Mike Wassenaar, president of Minneapolis-based Alliance for Community Media.

Wassenaar said Obama's statement signaled that the Federal Communications Commission might be getting closer to issuing some sort of ruling about net neutrality, but regardless of how it shakes out there will be lawyers.

"Whatever the FCC does will be challenged by either the phone and cable companies or public interest advocates, so whatever happens I would expect that there will be a series of court cases in 2016," he said. "This is not the final act. This is more like act two or act three."