Brewer, Kallos, Council Members Call for Net Neutrality in Final Days Before FCC Ruling

New York, NY --  In advance of the February 26 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on new open internet rules, the New York City Council is introducing a resolution in favor of strong regulations that would protect net neutrality. The resolution, sponsored by City Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Members Brad Lander, Corey Johnson and Costa Constantinides, supports FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s recent proposal to reclassify the internet as a Title II Utility, the strongest protections ever for the open internet—banning paid prioritization and throttling of content.

The New York City Council has been part of the wave of activism that convinced the FCC to come to this point. On July 15, 2014, nine members of the City Council filed comments with the FCC advocating for strong net neutrality rules on behalf of immigrant New Yorkers with distant family members, New York City job seekers and consumers. The New York City Council has been part of the wave of activism that convinced the FCC to come to this point. In 2007, then Council Member Gale Brewer introduced a resolution supporting net neutrality. As an activist, Ben Kallos testified in favor of it.

The Federal Communications Commission launched a rule-making on May 15, 2014, seeking public input as to how to best maintain a fair, free and open internet. On November 10, 2014, President Obama came out in favor of net neutrality and joined many members of the public in calling for the internet to be reclassified as a Title II utility. Wheeler’s proposal will come to a vote by the FCC on February 26, 2015.

“Internet service has become a necessary utility for the general public to communicate with one another and government. Whether receiving emergency information during a storm, applying for services or communicating via video chat with family, all Americans deserve equal access to an open internet,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, a Free and Open Source Software Developer. “President Obama, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and Mayor de Blasio agree: We must protect net neutrality.”

“FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler became an open internet champion with his proposal to enact strong yet reasonable regulations to protect net neutrality, and now it’s time for the FCC commissioners and Congress to follow suit,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Paid prioritization, traffic throttling, and other forms of favoritism in internet service will stifle innovation, and it is vital that our federal government act to keep the internet’s playing field level.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, "I join my colleague Council Member Ben Kallos in calling on the members of the Federal Communications Commission to vote in favor of Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal. We should protect an open internet and net neutrality by regulating broadband internet as a public utility.  The future of our city must be engaged and connected.  In order to achieve connectivity for all, we need an equitable internet at fair bandwidth speeds. I commend Council Member Kallos for his leadership on this important issue."

"Since its creation, the internet has equalized playing fields by providing a free platform with which anyone can communicate, research, exchange ideas or market a product,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “Unfortunately, profiteering by cable company behemoths threatens the equal platform the internet has always provided. A ‘tiered content’ delivery system would stifle connections for individuals or businesses who cannot pay a premium. It is therefore absolutely imperative that Congress pass an enforceable protection of network neutrality and the FCC heed President Obama’s recommendation of reclassifying broadband as a Common Carrier.”

"New York city has been great beneficiary of Net Neutrality, and its appropriate for the Council to recognize and support that fact; I applaud the resolution," said Tim Wu, Professor at Columbia Law School, who coined the term "Net Neutrality."

“We applaud Borough President Brewer and Councilman Kallos' continuing leadership on Net Neutrality," said Timothy Karr, Free Press' senior director of strategy. "Protecting the open Internet is a cause about which tens of thousands of New Yorkers care passionately. For nearly a decade they've been active writing the FCC, calling their members of Congress and rallying on city streets in support of Net Neutrality protections. The support of New York leaders like Brewer and Kallos brings us one step closer to restoring real public interest protections to our nation’s communications policies. If the FCC adopts the chairman’s proposal, we'll all have good reason to celebrate a win for the Internet."

"Thousands of New Yorkers have spoken out to protect the Open Internet, which has enabled laudable advances in civic participation and innovation and has become an important medium for how we learn about and debate the issues of the day. To preserve and strengthen our core democratic values of freedom of speech and equality of opportunity, the internet must remain Open and not clogged by the creation of fast lanes benefiting large corporate interests. As people throughout the country mobilize to protect Open Internet principles from congressional encroachment, we welcome the New York City Council's  support for safeguarding our communication freedoms," said Lauren George of Common Cause NY.