Locals began weighing in on the raging debate involving net neutrality.
President Barack Obama wants the FCC to reclassify Internet service as a public utility and put a ban on paid prioritization for Internet traffic. Basically, if Obama gets his way, Internet service providers would be prohibited from establishing fast and slow lanes for information coming over their networks.
"Net neutrality is saying that both users and content providers can equally use the Internet without the Internet service provider cutting somebody off, or running them at a slower speed,” said Ken Walsh, Ph.D., a professor in the University of New Orleans Department of Management and Information Systems.
President Obama laid out his position in a video released by the White House.
"Cable companies can't decide which online stores you can shop at or which streaming services you can use, and they can't let any company pay for priority over its competitors,” the president said.
Marjorie Esman of the local ACLU said net neutrality is needed to protect consumers.
"You can't have a situation in which, you know, a consumer wants to research a product and some company has paid for better access than their competitors,” said Esman.
The industry, however, is blasting the president's idea. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association put out the following statement:
On the flip side, content providers like Netflix support the president's stance.
“We see the beginning of it with what's going on with Netflix, so in the Netflix situation, Netflix paid the Internet service providers for better service to make sure its customers could view movies well,” Walsh said.
Walsh also said things could change for the worse in the future as Internet providers become more powerful.
"If your Internet service provider started a company that sold goods and competed against Amazon, they might just not show Amazon, and when you go to buy something, you see only the companies that they're interested in,” he said.
"Or a political candidate maybe can pay for faster bandwidth than their opponent and so you can't learn about their opponent," Esman said. That's not a way for Democracy to function.”
Still, Walsh believes moderation is needed in terms of considering new regulations.
"It's an issue that we should look at with a scalpel rather than a machete," he said.
The two U.S. Senate candidates facing a runoff in Louisiana were asked about the president's position.
“I understand the power of having everyone connected to the high speed Internet, but I also understand that there is the other side of that argument, so I'm not sure that I agree with President Obama on this point," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana. "We have Sentry Link that's the third largest Internet provider in our state, and they're in Monroe, and they employ 5,000 people. I'm a huge supporter of their power as an economic provider ... So there are two sides to this story. I'm not sure that I agree with the president on this. I want to be very Louisiana focused.”
Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, issued the following statement objecting to the president's stance.