The internet was designed to be an open platform where all legal traffic on the internet is treated equally. Internet providers have the ability to slow, block, or speed up content that goes over the web. While the ability to do this exists, providers hadn’t slowed the internet speeds down until movie provider Netflix started streaming video’s online.
Utica College’s Anthony Martino, Director North East Cyber Security and Forensic Center explains what happened next.
"In exchange for speeding that back up, the internet service providers made Netflix pay a fee directly to them. So the internet service providers were then getting paid from the content provider and from the consumer who used their service."
The Federal Communications Commission ruled last month that the net neutrality rules were a government over reach. That means service providers have to power to charge individual customers higher rates, as well as throttle down internet speeds for others. That has anyone who uses the internet concerned, but the ruling has internet providers concerned too.
"AT&T was one of the companies pushing to repeal net neutrality. Now they’re pushing that congress should make a legislative solution, permanent solution because the States are starting to take up the issues themselves."
Governor Cuomo signed an executive order in an effort to protect New York from net neutrality rules, but it didn’t protect local governments and school districts. Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (119th Assembly District) is co-sponsoring legislation that goes beyond the Governor’s action.
"For one thing the executive orders can be challenged in court, and if this law passes it will become permanent. The legislation I am sponsoring with my colleges is also broader and requires net neutrality for internet service providers doing business with public school districts and local governments."
While the fight for net neutrality will probably be fought in the courts, Martino says don’t count out the power of local governments.
"I think this will be the next battleground. I think you could see cities, towns, villages, counties coming forth as these agreements renew and say we’ll renew you, but only on these terms. You’re going to abide by net neutrality for all of our citizens or you’re out. "