In case you wondered whether the White House is deliberately ignoring its petition platform, the President’s Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, wrote an official blog post in support of net neutrality.
“Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries,” wrote Park about the contentious law that will allow Internet service providers to charge more money for some websites.
Park was responding to 105K people who signed an official petition on WeThePeople to prevent ISPs from charging websites different rates for different speeds. The AT&Ts and Verizons of the world could make a pretty penny by charging services, such as YouTube, to increase the speed of their websites. Major tech companies and civil liberty organizations fear that it would snuff out the savvy little guy who can’t afford the high prices, thereby ending the meritocracy of a net neutral web.
Last month, a circuit court threw out an important provision for the Federal Communication Commission’s jurisdiction over the law, potentially threatening the existence of net neutrality. Netflix, which stands to be hit the hardest by a change in the law, has been especially vocal in support of net neutrality after the court’s decision.
The FCC says it’s working on a potential solution that could withstand further court rulings. The president’s support could provide some cover as the FCC tries to maintain its role over this issue.
Obama’s support for net neutrality isn’t new, but responding to the official White House petitions is a nice sign that the executive branch is taking direct democracy seriously. According to the White House pledge, any WeThePeople petition that gathers more than 100K signatures will get an official response.
Some petitions are months old, however, leaving critics to question whether the petition system is being taken seriously. This goes to show that the White House can answer easy questions, like net neutrality, much faster. It does, however, take longer to figure out whether the president wants Justin Bieber deported.