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US Mayors Join Net Neutrality Cause

As of this past Monday, 11 US mayors have signed a pledge defending “net neutrality” in their cities and towns. The pledge, titled “Cities Open Internet Pledge,” was introduced by Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York, Ted Wheeler of Portland, and Steve Adler of Austin at this year’s South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.

As discussed in a recent post, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently published the final rule repealing net neutrality, the open internet framework that restricted internet service providers (ISPs) from prioritizing, slowing, or blocking data and information flowing through their networks. The FCC is replacing net neutrality with a network management disclosure regime that will require ISPs to disclose information about network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of service.

Under the pledge, to the extent it’s within their control, the mayors are promising that their cities will, among other things, procure internet services from ISPs that do not block, throttle, or provide paid prioritization of content on sites that the cities use to provide services and information to their residents; ensure an open internet connection associated with any free or subsidized internet service offered to city residents; and not block, throttle, or engage in paid prioritization when providing free public Wi-Fi to their residents.

In addition to the pledge, states have started to take action in support of net neutrality. Washington became the first state to pass a net neutrality law, which prohibits ISPs operating in Washington from blocking or throttling legal content or favoring content due to paid prioritization. Oregon also just passed a law that will ban ISPs engaging in such behavior from doing business with state agencies. Maryland is debating similar legislation.

Copyright © 2020 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 74


About this Author

Doneld Shelkey, Technology attorney, Morgan Lewis

Doneld G. Shelkey represents clients in global outsourcing, commercial contracts, and licensing matters, with a particular focus on the e-commerce and electronics entertainment industries. Doneld assists in the negotiation of commercial transactions for domestic and international manufacturers, technology innovators, and retailers, and counsels clients in the e-commerce and electronics entertainment industries on consumer licensing and virtual property matters.

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Katherine B. O'Keefe, Morgan Lewis, Technology Lawyer

Katherine B. O’Keefe is part of a team that handles critical commercial transactions that enable our clients to run their business operations effectively. The team is focused on technology transactions, including licensing, services, and alliance deals that involve emerging technologies such as cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), and data analytics. Our technology, outsourcing, and commercial transactions lawyers assist clients in managing their online presence, from website development, hosting, and maintenance; to privacy and use policies; to data breach and retention issues.