Victory for digital equity: court upholds New York's broadband price cap for low-income families

Victory for digital equity: court upholds New York’s broadband price cap for low-income families

In a landmark decision for digital rights and consumer protection, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of maintaining New York’s broadband price cap for low-income families. On April 26, the court’s decision in New York State Telecommunications Association v. James effectively reversed a lower court’s ruling and upheld New York State’s Affordable Broadband Act (ABA).

This ruling marks a significant victory in the fight for digital equity, ensuring that financially vulnerable people in New York have continued access to affordable broadband services in their homes. While the internet might be ubiquitous in affluent communities, for many low-income families it remains a luxury that almost one million people in New York simply cannot afford. Because of this, in 2021, Access Now together with a coalition of civil society organizations supported the ABA by filing an amicus brief when broadband providers initially challenged it.

The court’s decision supports essential policies that help bridge digital divides and make critical online services accessible to all. This is a win not only for New York but also serves as a precedent that could influence future digital rights policies nationwide. Willmary Escoto, U.S. Policy Counsel at Access Now

This decision comes at a critical time. Just a day before the court issued its decision, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reclassify broadband internet access services under Title II of the Communications Act, restoring net neutrality, and potentially affecting future interpretations of similar laws.  As the legal and regulatory environments continue to evolve, this decision will serve as a key reference point for discussions on the intersection of state authority and federal regulation in digital policy.