In 2015, under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advanced rules that treated telecom companies and Internet service providers (ISP) like utilities, aiming to stop them from meddling with the Internet. The rules also prohibited ISPs from charging tech companies or consumers for faster delivery of their music, movies or other content – “fast lanes”. In other words, content and data were to be treated equally with respect to transferability, delivery times, access and cost.
On Thursday, December 14, 2017, the FCC rolled back the rules. Currently, broadband companies are free to pursue so-called paid prioritization arrangements, if they choose to do so. In place of the previous net neutrality protections, the FCC, under President Trump, is going to only require the Internet service providers to be transparent about their network practices.
Our NYS Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, threatened to lead the legal challenge to the FCC repeal. The attorney general’s office spent months going over the over 20 million comments that the FCC received about net neutrality. His office concluded that many of the submissions in favor of the rollback were fake and fraudulent.
The United States Congress should promulgate legislation protecting content on the Internet and ensuring full access and open Internet to all in America. New York State, however, has a duty to protect New Yorkers and New York consumers online. The FCC’s repeal of the rules is interfering with open access to information and an open Internet.
Very shortly, the New York State Assembly will be advancing a bill to set up a commission to study how best to implement net neutrality rules in New York State. Look out for it!