The Business Council of New York State, Inc. is the leading business organization in New York State, representing the interests of large and small firms throughout the State. Our membership is made up of roughly 2,400 member companies, many of whom are providing advanced telecommunications and broadband services, including internet access, throughout New York. The Business Council opposes this legislation, which would place New York State regulators in direct contradiction to existing federal regulatory rules and responsibilities.
This proposal would give the Public Service Commission (PSC) the authority to monitor the practices of internet service providers in regards to net neutrality and would prohibit New York State and its authorities and municipalities from entering into contracts with internet service providers that do not adopt and apply “net neutrality” practices, except in certain specified instances.
We believe this legislation is inconsistent with the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Order that made its way through the federal regulatory process last year, which specifically preempts (in essence forbids) any State or local measures that would create a patchwork of regulations causing an imbalance in the regulatory scheme being worked on federally for the benefit of all 50 states.
Our members remain steadfast in their support for an open internet, including reasonable federal protections to address practices that would threaten it. Following the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) order, FCC rules will require providers to be transparent about the practices and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will be empowered to investigate and go after any conduct that threatens consumers or competition or is deceptive without discouraging competition and slowing job-generating investments. We believe that states are preempted from such actions because they conflict with FCC rules and policies, and with the FTC’s jurisdiction over internet service providers. The FTC will also provide a single national framework that will apply to all providers and Internet companies, giving consumers nationwide consistent and fair protections.
For the past twenty years, American innovators and entrepreneurs have worked to create a vibrant internet economy that has dramatically changed the way we live, work and learn. An internet free of state government regulation has led to an era of unparalleled economic growth and expansion both here in the U.S. and around the world. And this innovation happened, and consumers were protected, during a period with the same light-touch regulatory framework that the FCC has now restored.
State-level net neutrality legislation will not only create confusion for businesses and consumers alike, it will put our State at a competitive disadvantage when working to attract and retain businesses. Simply put, it sends the wrong message to employers, their customers and the skilled employees they need.
States that attempt to regulate the internet threaten to undermine future innovation, as well as investments in broadband infrastructure. We urge state lawmakers to refrain from state-by-state proposals in an area best served by national rules under federal regulators.
For all of these reasons, The Business Council urges the defeat of this bill.