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Santa Clara County stands up for net neutrality

Board of Supervisors approve resolution that declares support for an open internet

Santa Clara County took a stance on defending the free internet under a resolution approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Joe Simitian introduced the resolution stating the county's goals of protecting net neutrality, which was met with a 4-0 vote at Tuesday's board meeting in San Jose. In a press release, Simitian called net neutrality "necessary for the prosperity of the Santa Clara County local economy."

Internet service providers can control how slow or fast certain content online is delivered, which could give larger companies the opportunity to stay ahead of their competitors, according to the supervisor.

"Net Neutrality isn't a new idea; it's the way the internet has always worked," Simitian said in a press release. "When you go online, you expect that you'll be able to see the information that you're looking for."

The resolution calls on the federal government, which is proposing rollbacks for key protections, to defend and preserve the internet, according to Simitian's office.

"Especially here in Silicon Valley, the internet is a driving force behind our economy," Simitian said in a press release. "It creates jobs, fosters innovation, and connects us to each other, even across the globe. An open internet is key to the high-tech world we've built, and it's up to us to help protect it."

The resolution comes as the Federal Communications Commission is looking to roll back on 2015 protections that curb throttling, blocking and paid-prioritization of information online.

"ISPs have incentives to shape Internet traffic and the FCC knows full well the instances where consumers have been harmed," said Mitch Stoltz, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"AT&T blocked data sent by Apple's FaceTime software, Comcast has interfered with Internet traffic generated by certain applications, and ISPs have rerouted users' web searches to websites they didn't request or expect," Stoltz said. "These are just some examples of ISPs controlling our Internet experience. Users pay them to connect to the Internet, not decide for them what they can see and do there."

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