New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Capital New York Council revives a Net Neutrality Resolution by Miranda Neubauer

Council revives a Net Neutrality Resolution

Councilman Ben Kallos is introdcuing a resolution on behalf of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Thursday that calls on Congress to pass legislation and the Federal Communications Commission to enact a policy that would protect net neutrality.

The proposal advocates addressing net neutrality by reclassifying broadband Internet as a common carrier.

The resolution has the support of council members Brad Lander, Costa Constantinides and Corey Johnson.

In a brief interview, Kallos noted that Brewer had first introduced similar legislation in 2007 when she was on the Council. He said that the renewed resolution came on the heels of nine council members jointly submitting comments to the F.C.C. last summer, and as "part of a wave across the country" supporting net neutrality proposals that F.C.C. chair Tom Wheeler articulated in a Wired op-ed last week.

Kallos said he hoped the Council would be able to vote on the resolution before Feb. 26, the day the F.C.C. is expected to vote on the rules, and would be conferring with Councilman James Vacca, chair of the Council's technology committee, about efforts to move the resolution forward over the next weeks.

The goal of addressing economic inequality "starts with making sure the digital divide is narrowed," Kallos said, echoing a point Mayor Bill de Blasio made in addressing a conference on philanthropy and technology policy on Wednesday.

"The fact that it's moved from being something where we were afraid of losing even the protections we had to the president of the United States coming out in favor, to Tom Wheeler ... I think this will be a huge win for activists across the country," Kallos said.

The technology committee under Brewer held a hearing on the earlier resolution in November 2009, at a time when both future public advocate Tish James and future mayor de Blasio were members of the committee, and just after de Blasio had been elected public advocate.

At that hearing, many technologists, advocacy groups, academics as well as artists, including songwriters, testified in favor of the resolution, arguing that it would help support a diverse New York City-based technology ecosystem. Among those testifying was Ben Kallos, who was then co-founder of the Open Government Foundation.

Some researchers and representatives of the cable industry opposed the measure, suggesting the resolution could promote overregulation and discourage investment.

As James and de Blasio joined the hearing, according to the transcript, Brewer joked, "I want them both to know that we are streaming and tweeting this, and I hope when you're public advocate, you can figure out how to do that, too."

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