White House Strongly Supports Wheeler Effort To Preserve Net Neutrality

The White House "strongly" supports FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's effort to preserve net neutrality rules, but is not advocating for any specific response.

In a posting on the White House blog, director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling and Chief Technology Officer Todd Park responded to a petition on the White House's We the People site calling for the FCC to reclassify ISPs as common carriers (the Title II option).

If a petition gets enough signatures, the White House will issue an official response. The petition had 105,572 signatures at press time.

Sperling and Park made it clear that preserving the rules was important to the administration. "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."

They did not endorse the reclassification the petition called for, but they did not reject it either.

"The petition asked that the President direct the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers as 'common carriers' which, if upheld, would give the FCC a distinct set of regulatory tools to promote net neutrality," they said, but added. "The FCC is an independent agency. Chairman Wheeler has publicly pledged to use the full authority granted by Congress to maintain a robust, free and open Internet—a principle that this White House vigorously supports."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.