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White House Supports Net Neutrality but Needs FCC to Act

net neutrality petition

Government officials have come out in support of a neutral and open internet but suggest that Obama doesn’t have the power to order the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make broadband services subject to the same fair use laws as telephone providers. A statement on the White House blog supports FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s motion and the We the People petition to maintain net neutrality, which has garnered more than 105,000 signatures since a January federal appeals ruling struck down an FCC order to treat all traffic equally.

The White House highlighted the importance of this effort:

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.

The problem is that the FCC is an independent agency not under executive jurisdiction, despite being appointed by the President and Congress. While the FCC has control over broadband services, the court ruled it cannot exact “common carrier” laws that are used to regulate telecom. The good news it that Chairman Wheeler said the commission will soon introduce a new bill in hopes of preserving the open internet in a legal way.

According to Gene B. Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, and Todd Park, the chief technology officer of the U.S, net neutrality is essential for innovation:

Preserving an open Internet is vital not just to the free flow of information, but also to promoting innovation and economic productivity. Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries.

via the New York Times

   
 
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