As of this past Monday, 11 US mayors have signed a pledge defending “net neutrality” in their cities and towns. The pledge, titled “Cities Open Internet Pledge,” was introduced by Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York, Ted Wheeler of Portland, and Steve Adler of Austin at this year’s South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.
As discussed in a recent post, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently published the final rule repealing net neutrality, the open internet framework that restricted internet service providers (ISPs) from prioritizing, slowing, or blocking data and information flowing through their networks. The FCC is replacing net neutrality with a network management disclosure regime that will require ISPs to disclose information about network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of service.
Under the pledge, to the extent it’s within their control, the mayors are promising that their cities will, among other things, procure internet services from ISPs that do not block, throttle, or provide paid prioritization of content on sites that the cities use to provide services and information to their residents; ensure an open internet connection associated with any free or subsidized internet service offered to city residents; and not block, throttle, or engage in paid prioritization when providing free public Wi-Fi to their residents.
In addition to the pledge, states have started to take action in support of net neutrality. Washington became the first state to pass a net neutrality law, which prohibits ISPs operating in Washington from blocking or throttling legal content or favoring content due to paid prioritization. Oregon also just passed a law that will ban ISPs engaging in such behavior from doing business with state agencies. Maryland is debating similar legislation.