Students, staff assess effects of Cuomo’s net neutrality initiative

Pictured above are Geneseo students surfing the web and studying vigorously. New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo created regulations that would partially maintain internet neutrality protections. The move has caused varied reactions from members of the college community. (Annalee Bainnson/Photo Editor)

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Jan. 24 to promote net neutrality regulations in the state. 

Cuomo issued this order in response to the repeal of net neutrality by the Federal Communications Commission last month, according to Gov. Cuomo’s statement at the order’s passage.

“The FCC’s dangerous ruling goes against the core values of our democracy, and New York will do everything in our power to protect net neutrality and the free exchange of ideas,” Cuomo said in the statement. “With this executive order, we reaffirm our commitment to freedom and democracy and help ensure that the internet remains free and open to all.”

After the FCC repealed net neutrality, New York along with 20 other states filed legal papers to fight the ruling, according to a Jan. 24 article from the Democrat & Chronicle.

Under Cuomo’s executive order, “any new or renewed internet contract with the state signed after March 1 will require the internet provider to sign an agreement to abide by the net neutrality laws,” according to the same Democrat & Chronicle article.

It is unclear whether this order will benefit state agencies like colleges, according to Geneseo’s Network Manager Rick Coloccia. 

“Network neutrality attempts to level the playing field,” Coloccia said. “It creates a scenario where regardless of what you download or upload it gets equal treatment from the carriers that transit it from one point or another. It might help that the governor would like to limit colleges to using companies that respect network neutrality, and it might not. We would have no way of knowing. Here, at Geneseo, we have no visibility as to how other network transit providers on the internet treat our traffic.”

Political science major senior Christopher Hanse supports the executive order, citing the potential consequences small businesses and consumers could face without it.

“The repeal of net neutrality is monopolistic, antidemocratic and goes against the interests of businesses and consumers alike,” Hanse said. “Internet service providers could potentially block or slow the competitors of businesses they are partnered with so that they can stay profitable. This has the potential to create monopolies that small businesses can’t compete with. It could lead to less ISP options for consumers and higher prices for internet speed they already have.”

International relations major freshman Matthew Phelan alternatively does not support the governor’s executive order, deeming the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules misleading.

“Personally, I’m not a fan of it,” Phelan said. “I support the repeal wholeheartedly because I don’t think the 2014 regulations make sense economically. I’d much prefer if [Cuomo] demanded that the state follow a basic net neutrality, without all of the loopholes found in the 2014 bill.”

Pre-economics major junior Cameron Roll believes the executive order will help safeguard against wrongful censorship. 

“I’m happy with Cuomo’s decision because protecting net neutrality is good for everyone,” Roll said. “Without net neutrality, service providers would be able to censor any content that they don’t agree with. It’s important to keep access to information equal to minimize the spread of misinformation.”