President Barack Obama meets with bipartisian congressional leadership, including Speaker of the House John Boehner (left) / EPA

The President calls on the FFC to black ISPs who might want to introduced paid-for 'fast lanes' and throttled connections for heavy data users

US President Barack Obama has said that he wants to put in place safeguards to treat all online traffic equally, calling upon regulars to protect the internet by reclassifying it as the same as “other vital services”.

“We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas,” said Obama in a statement today.

“That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”

Obama’s statement stakes out his support for the concept of ‘net neutrality’ – the idea that ISPs should not be allowed to create fast and slow lanes on the internet, with customers and companies paying for quicker access.

By reclassifying the internet as a ‘telecommunications service’, as Obama advocates, the internet would be treated as something akin to water or gas. Net neutrality advocates say this would keep the internet fair and open to all – although opponents suggest it could give the US government too much control over the web.

Obama called for simple rules over internet access, including no blocking of illegal content; no intentional slowing down of content (‘throttling’); increased transparency about infrastructure; and no paid prioritization. The president also said these rules should apply to mobile networks also.

The FCC is under no obligation to listen to the president, and has responded by saying only that “as an independent regulatory agency we will incorporate the President’s submission into the record of the Open Internet proceeding.”