Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality

July 12, 2017 – The internet is the utility of the 21st century. It brings access to education, economic opportunities, and ultimately an improved quality of life. For more than twenty years the City of Seattle has sought to close the digital divide, making sure that all of our community members can realize the benefits from having access to the internet and the skills necessary to use it.

In recent years our efforts have received strong championship at the federal level. In 2015, the Federal Communications Communication (FCC) passed a rule guaranteeing “Net Neutrality” – meaning all consumers and entrepreneurs would have equal access to internet users. Today this rule, and the opportunity it brings to our community, are under fire.

The current presidential administration and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai threaten to repeal this basic, modern day necessity. Critics of net neutrality believe, among other things, it limits larger companies from expanding and developing new technologies. They think repeals can expand our economy and increase innovation, when in fact, it would do just the opposite.

Those destined to be hurt by possible repeals are the smaller businesses and startups that are vital to Seattle’s economy. Companies like Cleland Marketing know killing network neutrality guarantees will result in increased barriers to market entry.

Katherine Cleland, a small independent business owner who works with digital marketing clients addressed Senator Maria Cantwell and FCC Commission Mignon Clyburn at a recent Town Hall in Seattle Friday, July 7.

“Right now we are in a struggle amongst all of my clients to meet Google’s requirement for load speeds to be at the top of search engine rankings,” said Cleland. “They have made speed one of their top criteria for SEO optimization. When we buy shared server space rather than sole server space we have slower response times and that can drop us off search engines, which is inadvertent because of what we can spend on servers. If that happened at the ISP level, it would be devastating for businesses that needed or wanted to be at the first page of search engine rankings.” 

You can read more about Cleland’s concerns in her personal essay on the City of Seattle’s Net Neutrality site.

She’s just one Seattleite speaking up against the possible net neutrality repeal. Mayor Ed Murray and I hope you will as well. Now, through August 16, 2017, the FCC it is taking comments on this important issue. Join the more than five million Americans who’ve signed the petition and let the FCC know that the internet should be free and open to all. It only takes a few minutes, but those few minutes are vital to keeping the flow of information moving freely, quickly, and most importantly, moving to all of us.

~Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller

FCC Contact Information:
Email: openinternet@fcc.gov
Phone: 1-888-225-5322
File a comment: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings

To read more about the City’s efforts on the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality go to www.seattle.gov/netneutrality

 

 

 

 

Seattle IT Broadband Privacy Directors Rule Q&A

Today, the City of Seattle issued Seattle IT rule 2017-01 requiring the City’s key internet service providers to obtain permission from their customers before selling web browsing history and personally identifiable information at a detailed or aggregate level. This rule reinstates a key consumer privacy protection eliminated by the U.S. Congress and the Trump administration last month.

What does this rule do?

The City of Seattle Information Technology Department (ITD) Director’s Rule 2017-01 requires cable companies that offer an internet service to obtain permission before sharing a customer’s web browsing activity or other internet usage history. Cable operators must attest to compliance with this rule by September 30, 2017, and annually thereafter.

Why is the City of Seattle issuing this rule?

Mayor Murray believes protecting the privacy of internet users is essential to a free and open society. In April 2017 the Trump administration repealed rules issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would have would have banned internet service providers from sharing or selling certain types of customer information without user consent. Because of this repeal at the national level, the City is using powers at its disposal to implement a similar rule and protect the rights of our public.

Does the City have the authority to regulate the privacy of broadband internet service customers?

Seattle Municipal Code SMC 21.60 (“Cable Code”) provides the regulatory framework under which cable operators may operate in the City of Seattle. In 2002, the City enacted privacy protections codified at SMC 21.60.825 to address concerns that advances in technology would greatly increase the capabilities of Cable Operators to collect, use and disclose their customer’s personally identifiable information without the customer’s permission. These privacy protections prohibit cable operators from collecting or disclosing any information regarding a customer’s use of a non-cable service, such as internet use, without the prior affirmative consent of the customer.

The City’s privacy law is in all respects consistent with 47 U.S.C. § 551 and designed to ensure cable operator compliance with local and Federal law.

Which internet service providers are subject to this rule?

Cable operators franchised by the City of Seattle who provide an internet service are subject to this rule. As of May 3, 2017, this includes Comcast, CenturyLink, and Wave Broadband.

What internet service providers are not covered by this rule?

Internet service providers operating in the City of Seattle that do not have a cable franchise agreement are not subject to this rule. Wireless internet providers, such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon are not subject to this rule.

While this rule limits how internet service providers may use a customer’s web browsing activity or other internet usage history, it does not limit the ability of websites or other companies offering online services from tracking a user’s activity.

What protections does the City provide to cable customers?

Since 1999, the City of Seattle’s “Cable Customer Bill of Rights” has provided the public with strong protections to ensure competent, responsive service from cable operators. The Rights were modified in 2002 and 2015 to add privacy protections to address concerns that advances in technology would greatly increase the capabilities of cable operators to collect, use and disclose their customer’s information without the customer’s permission. Learn more about the Rights and how to report a comment or complaint by visiting http://www.seattle.gov/cable.

 

 

 

Seattle issues rule to strengthen broadband privacy for consumers

Notice of City of Seattle Information Technology Department Director’s Rule 2017-01.

Seattle Information Technology Department (ITD) is establishing ITD Director’s Rule 2017-01. This Rule applies to cable operators franchised to provide cable service in the City of Seattle.

ITD Director’s Rule 2017-01 provides procedures that Seattle Information Technology Department’s Office of Cable Communications (OCC) will implement to determine whether a franchised cable operator is in compliance with the privacy requirements of SMC 21.60.825. The Rule requires Cable Operators to obtain opt-in consent before sharing a customer’s web browsing history or otherwise use such information unless it is necessary to render a service ordered by the customer or pursuant to a subpoena or valid court order authorizing disclosure, or to a governmental entity. Cable operators must attest to compliance with this rule by September 30, 2017, and annually thereafter. Read ITD Director’s Rule 2017-01 at http://www.seattle.gov/tech/about/policies-and-directors-rules.

Any persons interested in presenting data, views, or arguments regarding this proposed new Director’s Rule may submit information or contact the Office of Cable Communications by email cableoffice@seattle.gov or call 206-684-5957.

 

 

 

Mayor, officials weigh in on historic FCC votes

Today, after the FCC voted in favor of net neutrality and municipal broadband choices, Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Bruce Harrell and Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller issued the following statements:

“I applaud the FCC for passing the strongest net neutrality rules in Internet history, a vital decision for not only entrepreneurs, but for the future of our democracy,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “High-quality, high-speed Internet is essential to an open society and I thank the FCC for allowing municipalities to make local choices about how to increase competition for high-speed Internet that is appropriate for their cities.”

“This is a historic moment in preserving and protecting our right to a fast, inclusive and open Internet,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “The Internet is now a necessity, giving everyone a voice, access to education, and opportunity in our economy. Today’s ruling ensures a tech startup or a small business are able to compete on equal footing with larger companies by prohibiting paid prioritization and throttling of content and services.”

Although the decision of the FCC directly affects Tennessee and North Carolina, it sends a resounding message nationally that local choice is vital for next-generation Internet adoption. Local government knows the needs of our residents and businesses best and local officials are directly accountable to their constituents, which is why this decision is so important. It’s critical for communities to have the ability to choose the best way to provide high-quality Internet for its public,” said Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer. “Competition benefits all members in a community and similar to any other market, high-speed broadband Internet is frequently better and cheaper when communities have choices about how that Internet service is provided. The City of Seattle commissioned a study in November to explore creation of a municipal broadband internet utility in Seattle. We look forward to receiving the results of this study in April.”

Mayor, officials weigh in on historic FCC votes

Today, after the FCC voted in favor of net neutrality and municipal broadband choices, Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Bruce Harrell and Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller issued the following statements:

“I applaud the FCC for passing the strongest net neutrality rules in Internet history, a vital decision for not only entrepreneurs, but for the future of our democracy,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “High-quality, high-speed Internet is essential to an open society and I thank the FCC for allowing municipalities to make local choices about how to increase competition for high-speed Internet that is appropriate for their cities.”

“This is a historic moment in preserving and protecting our right to a fast, inclusive and open Internet,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “The Internet is now a necessity, giving everyone a voice, access to education, and opportunity in our economy. Today’s ruling ensures a tech startup or a small business are able to compete on equal footing with larger companies by prohibiting paid prioritization and throttling of content and services.”

Although the decision of the FCC directly affects Tennessee and North Carolina, it sends a resounding message nationally that local choice is vital for next-generation Internet adoption. Local government knows the needs of our residents and businesses best and local officials are directly accountable to their constituents, which is why this decision is so important. It’s critical for communities to have the ability to choose the best way to provide high-quality Internet for its public,” said Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer. “Competition benefits all members in a community and similar to any other market, high-speed broadband Internet is frequently better and cheaper when communities have choices about how that Internet service is provided. The City of Seattle commissioned a study in November to explore creation of a municipal broadband internet utility in Seattle. We look forward to receiving the results of this study in April.”