Seeking to preserve the Obama-era net neutrality rules, the mayors of 12 cities have signed a pledge stating that they will attempt to procure broadband service from companies that don't block or throttle traffic, and don't charge companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.
The pledge -- written by Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York, Ted Wheeler of Portland and Steve Adler of Austin -- also includes a promise to encourage consumers to use Internet service providers that follow net neutrality principles. The city leaders created a website -- MayorsForNetNeutrality.org -- and are asking other mayors to publicly declare their support net neutrality. "Cities cannot allow private internet service providers to be the gatekeeper between our residents and the local government services on which they depend every day," the pledge states.
The initiative comes three months after the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to dismantle Obama-era net neutrality rules. The repeal won't take effect until later this year. The former rules prohibited broadband carriers from blocking or throttling online traffic and from charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the prior regulations were "heavy handed." But net neutrality advocates contend the rules are necessary to prevent broadband providers from engaging in censorship, and from harming competitors.
The FCC's decision to revoke the former regulations is facing a court challenge by 23 attorneys general, consumer groups and tech companies including Mozilla, Vimeo, Etsy and Kick starter.
State lawmakers are also pushing back against the FCC's move. The state of Washington recently enacted a new law that requires broadband providers to follow net neutrality rules. Additionally, governors in five states -- New York, New Jersey, Montana, Hawaii and Vermont -- have signed executive orders requiring state agencies to contract only with broadband providers that promise to follow net neutrality principles.
It's not yet known whether those state efforts will hold up in court. When the FCC voted to repeal the net neutrality rules, it also voted to block states from passing their own versions of the regulations. But some legal experts have said the FCC may not be able to enforce that prohibition.