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Yaël Ksander
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ksandery@bloomington.in.gov
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Bloomington Remains Committed to Net Neutrality in Face of FCC Repeal


Bloomington, Ind. - As the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of the rules protecting network neutrality goes into effect, Mayor John Hamilton reiterates the city’s opposition to the agency’s action and reinforces Bloomington’s commitment to the open internet. Hamilton’s statement marks the suspension of rules enacted by the FCC in February 2015 to prevent providers from engaging in practices harmful to internet openness.  

“Net neutrality is an essential element of twenty-first century democracy,” said Hamilton.  “Bloomington is standing with cities across the country to preserve this bastion of free speech and portal to economic and educational opportunities for all.”

The decision made by the FCC in late 2017 that takes effect today eliminates equal access requirements, allowing internet service providers to block certain content while prioritizing other sites, or to customize the speed at which sites load. Customers might in some cases be incentivized by the prospect of faster service in exchange for providing browsing history or other personal information. The lifting of requirements to treat all internet traffic equally would make it easier for corporations that provide internet service to promote content that serves their economic or political interests.

Hamilton is one of more than 110 mayors who have signed the Cities Open Internet Pledge, which was announced in March.  Signatories commit to several provisions designed to ensure an open internet and protect residents’ access to government content. The pledge challenges the FCC’s decision, which explicitly asserts federal authority over regulating the internet and bans states and cities from enacting contradictory legislation.

Proponents of net neutrality argue that the regulations provided for by the 2015 ruling are necessary for the broad “economic, social, and civic benefits” conveyed by the open internet. The ruling was based in the belief that “[t]he open internet drives the American economy and serves, every day, as a critical tool for America’s citizens to conduct commerce, communicate, educate, entertain, and engage in the world around them.”  Although the ruling dates to 2015, it cites the agency’s long-term commitment to Internet openness, based on the principle that it drives innovation and investment. In late 2017, the FCC reversed its position on net neutrality on the grounds that regulations were too restrictive of investment in internet infrastructure and exceeded the agency’s statutory authority.

“Access to news and information, to goods and services, and to one another on the internet is one of the most essential tools Americans -- like people all over the world -- have to participate in society and to improve and enrich their lives,” said Hamilton. “Limiting that access is a serious threat to democracy and economic equity. Bloomington is committed to net neutrality and to giving our residents the opportunities afforded by unfettered connectivity.”

As city officials pursue discussions with several internet service providers toward establishing city-wide broadband, the providers’ commitment to upholding net neutrality is a central concern.

After a bipartisan Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality regulation was passed in the Senate, the repeal is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.  On June 26, legislators will hear their constituents’ concerns on the topic during  Net Neutrality Advocacy Day.


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