Net Neutrality Support Petition Gets a Million Signatures; Obama Weighs In3 Feb, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey
A petition with a million signatures demanding action on net neutrality was delivered to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Jan. 30, and a day later President Obama took to the Internet to offer his thoughts on the issue.
The petition — delivered by Free Press, the ACLU, DailyKos, Demand Progress and others — asked the FCC to restore net neutrality rules, more two weeks after a federal court ruled against the commission’s Open Internet Order from 2010. Verizon had successfully challenged the FCC’s authority to implement and enforce those rules, but did leave open the possibility of the FCC reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service.
“Net neutrality is the reason all of these petitions even exist, and it's so important to protect everyone’s ability to say what they want and go where they want online without an Internet service provider interfering,” Free Press Internet campaign director Josh Levy said in a statement. Free Press was also one of more than 80 organizations that delivered a letter to the FCC, demanding action.
“Right now there is no one protecting Internet users from ISPs that block or discriminate against online content,” the letter reads. “Companies like AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon will be able to block or slow down any website, application or service they like. And they’ll be able to create tiered pricing structures with fast lanes for content providers and speakers who can afford the tolls — and slow lanes for everyone else.”
ISPs such as Verizon have already said Internet consumers will not see changes in how they access content, and companies such as Netflix have already expressed doubt that ISPs would risk further government intervention by throttling some broadband services in favor of others.
“ISPs have a very profitable business and they want to expand that business and part of delivering and expanding for consumers is having a good Netflix experience and good YouTube experience,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during his company’s recent investors call.
President Obama, speaking during an online streaming roundtable Jan. 31, addressed the issue, noting that his appointment, FCC chair Tom Wheeler, is a supporter of net neutrality, and is looking at the commission’s options following the ruling.
“[They have] potential appeals, potential rule making, a variety of tools that they may have in order to continue to vindicate the notion of a free and open Internet,” he said. “And I think you can feel confident that this administration will continue to support that. There are going to be a lot of technical issues about how best we can get to that. I know that they are still evaluating the court opinion.”