White House supports net neutrality but says can't force FCC's hands


The Obama administration once again expressed its support for net neutrality on Tuesday, in response to a WeThePeople petition. However, the White House reiterated that it is not in the position to dictate the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on what its next step should be.

Following the ruling of an appeals court in January that killed the net neutrality rule of the FCC, a petition was created and submitted to the federal government. The WeThePeople petition called on the president to reimpose regulations that will treat Internet service providers as phone networks.

"On January 14, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that struck down the Federal Communications Commission's open internet rules, commonly known as 'Net Neutrality' because ISPs are not classified as 'common carriers.' This ruling allows ISPs to charge companies for access to its users and charge users for access to certain services. Fewer companies will be able to afford access for innovative ideas and products. We urge the President to direct the FCC to classify ISPs as 'common carriers' so that the words of the FCC chairman may be fulfilled," read the petition that has garnered almost 105, 600 signatures.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has promised to readdress the open Internet issue, within the authorized boundaries of the commission, to make sure the Internet remains a tool for growth, innovation and a channel for free speech.

In response to the petition of the people, the Obama administration reaffirmed that net neutrality has its backing, but the regulation of the Internet is in the hands of the FCC, which is an independent agency.

"Preserving an open Internet is vital not to just to the free flow of information, but also to promoting innovation and economic productivity. Because of its openness, the Internet has allowed entrepreneurs -- with just a small amount of seed money or a modest grant -- to take their innovative ideas from the garage or the dorm room to every corner of the Earth, building companies, creating jobs, improving vital services, and fostering even more innovation along the way," wrote Gene Sperling and Todd Park, director of the National Economic Council and U.S. Chief Technology Officer, respectively.

"Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries. The resulting decline in the development of advanced online apps and services would dampen demand for broadband and ultimately discourage investment in broadband infrastructure. An open Internet removes barriers to investment worldwide," the statement posted on the White House blog read.

On Feb. 3, twin bills were filed in congress by Democrat legislators to help revive net neutrality or at least have a status quo until the FCC makes its final move.

During a conference on Feb. 10, FCC chairman Wheeler delivered a closing keynote and disclosed that he will soon announce the plans of the agency that may help resurrect net neutrality.

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