BY JAKE JOHNSON – “Town by town, city by city, local leaders are taking back everyone’s right to connect and communicate.”
As advocacy groups and open internet defenders in Congress continue their efforts to repeal the Republican-controlled FCC’s attack on net neutrality, the mayors of 11 cities have signed a new pledge vowing to refuse to do business with internet service providers that don’t support net neutrality.
Titled the Cities Open Internet Pledge (pdf), the initiative was first introduced by the mayors of New York City, Austin, and Portland, Oregon on Sunday during the South by Southwest conference in Texas.
“We will not do business with any vendor that does not honor net neutrality,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a panel discussion. “We need to name and shame any company that doesn’t honor net neutrality.”
Since Sunday, eight more mayors have signaled their support for the pledge, which calls on cities to only work with internet companies “that do not block, throttle, or provide paid prioritization of content on sites that cities run to provide critical services and information to their residents.”
“We each commit our city to take all available steps to ensure the internet remains open and to keep gatekeepers from throttling, blocking, or limiting government content on the internet to the extent permitted by law and within our control,” the pledge reads.
“By signing the Cities Open Internet Pledge, mayors are posing a direct challenge to the FCC’s wrong-headed decision to gut net neutrality protections,” said Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, which teamed up with the coalition of mayors to launch MayorsForNetNeutrality.org, where supporters of net neutrality can sign a petition calling on city leaders to sign the new pledge.
“Town by town, city by city, local leaders are taking back everyone’s right to connect and communicate,” Karr added in a statement on Monday. “They’re saying that access to an open internet is vital to the livelihood of cities and their inhabitants.”
The new initiative comes as the FCC’s attack on net neutrality—spearheaded by agency chair and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai—is facing challenges on numerous fronts. As Common Dreams reported, Washington last week became the first state in the nation to implement a law protecting net neutrality from the federal rollback.
The Senate, meanwhile, needs just one more vote to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would restore net neutrality by repealing the FCC’s rule. If it passes the Senate, the resolution will move to the House, where it will need 218 votes.
Below is a full list of the mayors—and the one county representative—who have signed the Cities Open Internet Pledge:
Mayor Bill de Blasio — New York, New York
Mayor Steve Adler — Austin, Texas
Mayor Ted Wheeler — Portland, Oregon
Mayor Ron Nirenberg — San Antonio, Texas
Mayor Sly James — Kansas City, Missouri
Mayor Mark Farrell — San Francisco, California
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh — Baltimore, Maryland
Mayor Barney Seney — Putnam, Connecticut
Mayor Paul Soglin — Madison, Wisconsin
Mayor Sam Liccardo — San Jose, California
Mayor Jacob Frey — Minneapolis, Minnesota
County Board of Supervisors Chair Zach Friend — Santa Cruz County, California
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