New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to advance net neutrality using strict legislation, fines and the threat of consumer lawsuits.
In Thursday's update to his 2020 State of the State Agenda, Cuomo said he plans to introduce legislation designed to prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic or accepting (or seeking) paid prioritization for certain online content. These approaches undermine a free and open Internet in favor of larger organizations with deeper pockets, jeopardizing the success or even existence of smaller or startup firms, net neutrality advocates have said.
The law also would ban zero-rating -- an exemption of some traffic from data caps -- that penalizes those consumers who choose a competitor's product or service over one their provider prefers. In today's streaming world, that often means subscribers get a pass on data usage for watching their ISP's content but are charged for data viewed using a rival's VSoD offering.
Zero-rating practices by wireless carriers actually raised the cost of wireless data from those carriers compared with those that do not use this practice, according to a two-year study of 30 European Union countries by non-profit Epicenter.works.
In addition, the governor wants to codify into law an executive order he signed in January 2018. This barred state government agencies from contracting with providers unless they followed net neutrality principles. Vermont, Washington and Oregon -- among many others -- put this and other processes in place immediately following the FCC's net neutrality about-face.
"A free and open Internet is one of the great equalizers -- allowing every person the same access to information and helping protect freedom of speech," Cuomo said, in a statement. "While the federal administration works to undermine this asset, in New York we are advancing the strongest net neutrality proposal in the nation so big corporations can't control what information we access or stymie smaller competitors. These protections will help ensure an open market for ideas and content across platforms and preserve the unimpeded access to online content the public wants and needs."
New York's Department of Public Service (DPS) would require fixed and mobile providers to "disclose their network management practices" to the public, the release said. And ISPs would have to recertify their compliance with New York's net neutrality rules each year. DPS would investigate ISPs, with the power to fine any that were not compliant.
Subscribers could sue if they believe an ISP has wronged them, since the law would allow private rights of action against those violating net neutrality rules, Cuomo said.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana. Like what you read: Sign up for our weekly newsletter.
(Home page image: Governor Andrew Cuomo / Twitter)