New York City Council Resolution 712: Net Neutrality

On Monday, April 30, the City Council Committee on Technology in Government held a hearing on Resolution 712, “Establishing Strong Network Neutrality Principles In Order To Protect The Internet.”

The Resolution calls on the US Congress to “codify strong network neutrality principles in order to ensure that the Internet will continue to foster innovation, increase competition, and spur economic growth as well as making the Internet faster and more affordable for all.”

In my testimony, I encouraged the Committee to extend its support for net neutrality to Internet service over cell phone. You can listen here:

 [odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/11062783/view%5D

or read it here.

Audio of the entire hearing can be found on the People's Production House site. The great thing about my testimony is that the two people I cited – Tim Wu and Cameron Craig – were there to speak for themselves.

I got to the City Council chambers a little before 1:00pm and the previous hearing was still going on. It was a joint meeting of the Committees on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services and the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services regarding the Discharge Plan for Mentally Ill Inmates.

It was a sizable crowd, very engaged, and largely people of color and the people most directly impacted by the hearing topic, including testimony delivered by advocates from people with mental illnesses incarcerated on Riker's Island who are receiving inadequate treatment. By contrast, testimony at the net neutrality hearing was delivered primarily by experts to a small, white audience.

The testimony of Cameron Craig from the New York City AIDS Housing Network is the clear exception: [odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/11274863/view]

At PPH, we're trying to bring the people who have the most at stake in discussions about the future of the Internet – those who currently have little or no access – to the fore at these hearings.

Overall, I think the pro-net neutrality forces delivered a very forceful package: Tim Wu from the regulatory angle, Professor Schulzrinne and others on the technical side, and Tim Karr blasting the telecom oligopoly, plus Cameron and me and also Yossef Heskiel of the NonProfit HelpDesk emphasizing the very real impact the issue has on New Yorkers.

But if we are going to solve the fundamental problem of the Internet – its inequities based on race, class, and gender – we need to build a base within the communities currently excluded from the Internet that is nonetheless savvy enough to shape the infrastructure of the future.

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