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De Blasio Administration Leads National Coalition In Filing Brief In Net Neutrality Lawsuit Against The FCC

August 28, 2018

Cities representing more than 25 million residents sign on

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration led a coalition of 28 cities and municipalities in filing a brief against the Federal Communications Commission’s illegal repeal of net neutrality. The coalition urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to strike down the FCC’s order, saying it illegally strips cities of the tools they need to provide critical services, turns internet service providers into gatekeepers of government websites, and could restrict critical government functions, such as law enforcement and traffic management.

“The FCC has allowed large corporations to hold government, individuals, and small businesses hostage by preventing equal access to internet services,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Cities across the country are standing together to oppose this discriminatory order and protect the fundamental right to a free and open internet.”

“This new FCC order improperly allows internet service providers to become gatekeepers of web-based municipal communications that amici cities increasingly rely on to provide core government services,” said Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter. “This policy is not just misguided and harmful, but unlawful. Congress has not authorized the FCC to give private companies license to impair cities’ ability to serve their residents reliably and promptly in the internet age.”

The cities filing the brief support the legal effort of a coalition of government entities, led by the New York Attorney General, who filed suit against the FCC in January. According to the brief, the cities would be prevented from addressing harms that can result from internet service providers throttling, blocking, or prioritizing web-based services based on payment. Providers could delay government systems that rely on real-time transmissions to convey information to police and firefighters, issue emergency alert messages, and transmit payment of local taxes or registration for public benefits. The brief cites examples of the numerous systems which could be impacted, including traffic management systems that inform citizens in real-time about parking, driving routes, and public-transportation. Plans to implement these kind of systems are undermined by the new FCC order, which allows internet service providers, for the first time, to block or prioritize web-traffic based on ability to pay.

“Net neutrality is critical to a strong and equitable economy, the smooth operation of modern government, and ongoing technological innovation,” said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. “By adopting this order, the FCC has shown itself to be in opposition to these building blocks of a healthy society. New York City stands with its sister cities in fighting against this illegal and ill-advised action.”

“A fair and open internet is foundational to all people having equal access to the benefits that come with using the internet” said Alby Bocanegra, Interim Chief Technology Officer, Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. “I’m proud that New York City continues to be an ardent champion of net neutrality in its fight against the discriminatory practices of service providers.”

“All New Yorkers are entitled to a free internet to learn, exercise their freedom of speech and access essential government services. The Council will continue to fight for New Yorkers’ basic rights at a time when we unfortunately can no longer rely on our federal government. New York City is proud to stand with other municipalities in the battle for net neutrality,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

“The Trump FCC has been hell-bent on giving telecom companies the right to stack the deck when it comes to internet access,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The internet isn’t optional anymore. Critical public information is disseminated online, and we cannot give up on free and fair access to the net as our national standard. I support this and all efforts to reverse the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, which is both an assault on our freedom to communicate online and an attack on tech jobs and online entrepreneurship in the United States.”      

“The principles enshrined in net neutrality set a baseline in policy that safeguards the free and open internet against the potential manipulation by any outside forces,” said Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the City Council Committee on Technology. “This coalition represents a tremendous showing of support across the country in defense of equal access and freedom of speech, and I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio for working to make sure New York City is leading the charge on this worthy fight.”

"It was a dark day for consumers when the FCC repealed net neutrality. Fortunately, local governments are continuing to fight to preserve an open internet for all. I applaud the cities filing a brief against the FCC’s repeal. I repeat my pledge to do everything possible in the city council to protect net neutrality," said Council Member Justin Brannan.

In addition to New York City, the following municipalities, mayors, and municipal associations signed onto the brief:

City of Alexandria, Virginia
City of Baltimore, Maryland
City of Boston, Massachusetts
City of Buffalo, New York
City of Chicago, Illinois
Cook County, Illinois
Mayor Bowser, Washington, DC
City of Gary, Indiana
City of Houston, Texas
City of Ithaca, New York
City of Los Angeles, California
City of Lincoln, Nebraska
City of Madison, Wisconsin
City of Newark, New Jersey
City of Oakland, California
Town of Princeton, New Jersey
Mayor and City Council of Portland, Oregon
City of San Jose, California
City of Schenectady, New York
City of Seattle, Washington
City of Somerville, Massachusetts
City of Springfield, Massachusetts
City of Syracuse, New York
City of Tallahassee, Florida
City of Wilton Manors, Florida
International Municipal Lawyers Association
California State Association of Counties

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