Obama Makes Network-Neutrality Pledge

Democratic Presidential Candidate Addresses Issue During MTV Online Forum

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) Monday pledged to make network neutrality the law of the land and a priority for the Federal Communications Commission if he becomes president, adding a jibe at Fox News Channel in his answer in a candidate forum streamed online.

The group pledged to pose the question to other candidates.

Obama is already on record supporting network neutrality, and he said again Monday at an MTV online forum that he was a strong supporter. He also said he was "going to make sure that [network neutrality] is the principle that my FCC commissioners are applying as we move forward."

Moveon.org sent an e-mail out earlier Monday telling reporters to get ready for Obama's answer. MTV had agreed to ask Obama the top-rated question according to an online 10 Questions contest.

A Moveon.org member -- New Jersey small-business owner Joe Niederberger -- won and lobbed the network-neutrality question at the candidate, which was: "“Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint FCC commissioners who support open Internet principles like net neutrality?”

The entire Obama answer was:

"The answer is yes! I am a strong supporter of net neutrality. And in case folks weren't following exactly the question, I just want to make sure everybody's clear.”

He added, "Right now, the speed with which and quality of your downloads or links are the same if you’re going to the CNN or Time Warner Web site as if you were going to barackobama.com. But what you've been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and portals through which you're getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites and Webcasts. So now what you'd have is, potentially, you could you could get much better quality from the Fox News site and you'd be getting rotten service from some mom-and-pop site. And that, I think, destroys one of the best things about the Internet, which is that there is this incredible equality there."

Obama continued, "And people, if you've got a good idea and get a great Web site -- Facebook, MySpace, Google might not have been started if you had not had a level playing field for whoever has the best idea. And I want to maintain that basic principle in how the Internet functions, and so, as president I'm going to make sure that is the principle that my FCC commissioners are applying as we move forward."

The network-neutrality issue, which helped to scuttle a planned revise of communications law by Congress last year, gained new legs after several incidents involving networks and their management and control of Web sites and online messaging.