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Legislature Urges Preservation of Net Neutrality

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Legislature Urges Preservation of Net Neutrality

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In response to a resolution advanced by Legislator Dooley Kiefer, the Legislature, by a vote of 11-2, went on record in support of equality of Internet access (net neutrality) and regulation of the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Federal Communications Act. (Legislators Mike Sigler and James Dennis voted no; Legislator Anna Kelles was excused.) In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved regulations that ensure such equal access to the Internet (providing that large Internet service providers cannot discriminate among different kinds of web traffic, websites, or applications, such as making some websites load faster, or charging more money to access certain sites) and classified broadband Internet access as a public utility under Title II of the Federal Communications Act, not as simply an “information service.” The new Chair of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has announced that the FCC will vote to place the Internet under Title I, doing away with net neutrality.

The Legislature’s resolution states that the Tompkins County Legislature has a duty to provide for the welfare of its residents, and that the Legislature, on behalf of all of its residents, “goes on record in strong support of net neutrality and in opposition to FCC Chair Pai’s desire to deregulate the Internet” by placing it under Title I.

Before the vote, Legislator Sigler characterized the action as misdirected, calling it “a zombie concept,” a dead issue. He maintained that firms such as Google and Facebook are throttling speeds down all the time, that the battle has already been fought and lost, with “three or four companies that simply own the Internet at this point.”