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Cuomo proposes new protections for net neutrality

Timothy Vollmer

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants New York to prevent internet providers from favoring some services over over others, and he proposed Thursday what he called the strongest state-level measure to protect what’s known as net neutrality.

Unveiled as part of the Democratic governor’s State of the State agenda for next year, the plan comes as some states have sought to make up for the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 decision to repeal net neutrality rules it approved in 2015.

“A free and open internet is one of the great equalizers — allowing every person the same access to information and helping protect freedom of speech,” Cuomo said in a statement. He said he was proposing legislation “so big corporations can’t control what information we access or stymie smaller competitors.”

The now-repealed FCC rules barred phone and cable companies from blocking, slowing down or charging higher fees for some services, sites or apps — those owned by competitors, for example.

The net neutrality rules drew opposition from big telecommunications companies and became an early focus of President Donald Trump’s deregulation efforts. FCC chairman Ajit Pai, an appointee of the Republican president, said the net neutrality regulations had hampered investment in broadband networks.

A federal court in Washington ruled this October that the FCC could ditch its rules but couldn’t prohibit state and local governments from enacting their own. Some states from California to Maine have done so.

Cuomo issued an executive order last year barring state agencies from signing contracts with internet service providers that don’t practice net neutrality.

The governor’s new proposal would require internet service providers to disclose how they manage internet traffic and certify that they comply with New York’s net neutrality rules. Companies that broke the rules could be fined by the state and sued by consumers.

And the proposal would prohibit what’s known as “zero-rating” — not counting the use of certain favored apps and services toward customers’ monthly data allotments, while other apps and services do count.

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