New York Fights for Net Neutrality

Even as the Trump administration sides with big internet service providers in setting the stage for major changes in the way consumers are billed for going online, New York is among a handful of states actively fighting back. 

Everything from student homework to entertainment and vital government and insurance services is being done digitally these days. That is why the concept of a content-agnostic web is essential. Under a new Federal Communications Commission rule, access could be broken into tiers, with slower speeds for some services. This has been described as deeply unfair and potentially innovation crushing.

Already, cable companies have been trying such schemes, offering faster downloads at greater cost, for example. Taken to an extreme, a company like Altice, which owns both Optimum Online, which has a near-monopoly on the South Fork, and Newsday, could put the brakes on competing media, such as The New York Times. AT&T, which is set to take over Time Warner, could throttle down the streaming service of competing Fox News while boosting CNN. 

The New York State Legislature passed a bill this week to try to protect equal access to the internet. It would prohibit state and local governments from using the services of companies that did not adhere to the principles of net neutrality. The fight is far from over, but Albany’s emerging position is an important step toward a level field for all players, large and small.