U.S. president Barack Obama threw his support behind neutrality today by publishing a statement
calling on the Federal Communications Commission to forbid internet service providers from blocking or throttling people's access to websites, games and other online services, or in turn cutting deals with such services to provide privileged access to their customers.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler responded in kind by issuing a statement
thanking the president for his input and noting that "it has become plain there is more work to do" before the independent U.S. regulatory agency establishes a new set of rules to govern how ISPs handle the business of providing internet access.
This is an issue of tantamount importance to the game industry, as the FCC's regulation policies (or lack thereof) will have significant repercussions for anyone who makes, markets or plays video games online.
In January a U.S. appeals court struck down the FCC's previous set of rules requiring broadband providers to handle all traffic equally, driving the agency to try and formulate a more acceptable policy.
Back in April, Wheeler proposed an "Open Internet" set of rules
that could bar ISPs from restricting their customers' access to certain websites or services, while at the same time allowing those providers to cut deals with companies willing to pay for faster delivery of their content.
The guidelines were later finalized and presented to the public for comment. They garnered more than 3.9 million responses
, including Obama's, making them the most-commented agenda in the history of the FCC.
Many in the game industry have expressed concerns about Wheeler's allowance for "pay-to-play" deals wherein companies like EA or Amazon might pay an ISP like Time Warner Cable to boost the speed with which its customers can stream and download data from their services.
Netflix struck just such a deal with Comcast earlier this year, and more companies could follow suit if the FCC permits it.