Policy: Technology

White House responds to 'net neutrality' petition, still silent on Justin Bieber, Edward Snowden

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Two White House officials responded to a “We the People” petition Tuesday regarding the Obama administration's policy on net neutrality, but have yet to respond to petitions asking to deport pop star Justin Bieber and pardon Edward Snowden.

Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, and Todd Park, the U.S. chief technology officer, responded to a petition created Jan. 15 requesting that the Federal Communications Commission restore net neutrality by classifying Internet providers as “common carriers.”

Sperling and Park wrote at length about President Obama's commitment to an open and free Internet before finally addressing the petition in the last paragraph.

“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,” Sperling and Park said. “The FCC is an independent agency. [FCC] Chairman [Tom] 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.”

So the petition was responded to, but not granted. That’s fine, a response is all that’s required.

But there are still 14 open petitions that have received more than 100,000 signatures and are waiting for a response from the Obama administration.

The most popular of the open petitions is one requesting to “deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card,” which now has over 260,000 signatures and was created on Jan. 23.

A petition that predates the net neutrality and Bieber petitions seeks to “pardon Edward Snowden,” the man who leaked the National Security Agency documents. That petition has more than 153,000 signatures and was created June 9, 2013.

Given the public’s interest in these two particular petitions, it’s a wonder the Obama administration hasn’t responded.

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Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner