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President Obama Defends Net Neutrality in State of the Union Address

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic challenger for Wisconsin Governor Mary Burke at North Devision High School on October 28, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Voters go to the polls November 4, 2014.

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday night (Jan. 20) -- amid talk of the economy, national security and health care -- President Obama took time to highlight the hot-button tech issue of net neutrality.

President Obama Weighs In on Net Neutrality

Back in November, Obama spoke out about the issue, calling on the FCC to reclassify broadband web access, therefore allowing the commission to regulate providers and keep them from slowing down or speeding up certain websites.

"I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world," Obama said Tuesday, ahead of an expected February vote on the issue by the FCC. "I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs -- converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay."

The idea behind net neutrality is that all content on the Internet is treated equally, so users aren't charged differently or get varying degrees of speed or access. Obama's plan intends to treat broadband Internet like telephone service is treated now.

"Twenty-first century businesses need 21st century infrastructure -- modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet," Obama also said during the address. "Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let's set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let's pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come."

Obama: 'No Hacker Should Be Able to Shut Down Our Networks'

Another tech issue addressed in the State of the Union speech was cybersecurity, in the wake of last month's Sony hack.

"No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids," he said. "We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism."