During his latest Google+ Hangouts session today, President Obama provided his most direct response yet to the recent court ruling that dealt a major blow to net neutrality. On the topic of net neutrality itself, Obama said, "It’s something that I’ve cared deeply about ever since I ran for office. My own campaign was empowered by a free and open internet and the ability for citizens all across this country to engage and create and find new ways and new tools to mobilize themselves." Obama said his rise to the presidency not have been possible if "there were a bunch of commercial barriers and roadblocks" between he and his supporters.
"They have authority."
But Obama carefully avoided criticizing the decision itself. "We live under a system in which when a court rules, we have to respect that ruling initially," he admitted. He also highlighted one positive takeaway: "The court did confirm that the FCC can regulate this space. They have authority," said Obama. "The FCC and Tom Wheeler are looking at all the options at their disposal. Potential appeals, potential rulemaking, a variety of tools that they may have in order to continue to vindicate the notion of a free and open internet."
Obama said that Americans can "feel confident that this administration will continue to support that." "The question now is how do they use that authority if the old systems and rulings that they had in place were not effective in preserving net neutrality." The President reminded viewers that when it comes to the FCC specifically, he can't "meddle in decision making there." But Obama's message was clear: there are plenty of people who care very much about upholding "what makes the internet so special." To hear Obama's answers for yourself, skip to the 35:30 mark of the above video.
Update: The stream appears to be experiencing some technical issues at the moment.