By Timothy Karr, Free Press
The number of mayors pledging to refuse to do business with online gatekeepers has grown to 16 since New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled MayorsForNetNeutrality.org on Sunday.
Mayor De Blasio, who announced the initiative during an appearance at the SXSW Conference in Austin, is now working with Free Press and others to get more U.S. mayors to sign the Cities Open Internet Pledge.
By signing on, mayors agree to require that all internet providers that do business with their cities follow strong Net Neutrality principles. Participating mayors reject the Federal Communications Commission’s unpopular 2017 decision to strip internet users of Net Neutrality protections and vow to use their collective power — both economic and political — to restore online rights.
“The action taken by the FCC fundamentally affronts our democracy,” Mayor de Blasio said as he challenged other mayors to join him in the pledge.
“In the case of New York City, our contracts with ISPs add up to about half a billion dollars,” de Blasio added. “We will not do business with any internet service provider that doesn’t honor Net Neutrality. We will just take their business away from them.”
De Blasio was joined on stage at SXSW by Mayors Steve Adler of Austin and Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon, who also signed the pledge.
“We need to name and shame any company that doesn’t honor Net Neutrality,” de Blasio said. “At MayorsForNetNeutrality.org anybody can go on there and sign up and become a part of a movement to get your own city to get in on this. But also to be part of a body of people who are going to take our economic power and walk away from the companies that are trying to take away our rights.”
The pledge has also been signed by the mayors of Baltimore, Kansas City (Missouri), Madison, Minneapolis, Putnam (Connecticut), San Antonio, San Jose and San Francisco along with the chairman of the county board of supervisors for Santa Cruz County.
Free Press created the MayorsForNetNeutrality.org site to allow residents of any U.S. city to contact their local mayors and city leaders and urge them to sign the pledge.
Signers agree that their cities will only do business with “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,” according to the pledge.
The action is part of the growing national movement against the FCC’s decision to repeal Net Neutrality. A congressional resolution of disapproval has gained hundreds of co-sponsors in the House and Senate and dozens of states are weighing legislation to restore Net Neutrality protections.
“We have a lot of confidence that this kind of strategy will take on a life of its own. It starts with a dozen cities and grows rapidly,” de Blasio said. “And I think it sends a message to the companies, that you can’t get away with something that affronts so many people.”