State Pension Funds Can Help Protect Online Privacy and Freedom of Speech

New York City pension funds have joined forces with a coalition of investors, organized by Open Media and Information Companies Initiative, to file shareholder resolutions with 10 publicly-held US Internet services providers (ISPs). The resolutions urge "corporate boards to report on the impact of the companies' Internet network management practices on public expectations of freedom of expression and privacy."

ISPs, including major telephone and cable companies, provide Internet to a majority of the US population. The resolutions highlight that these providers have the ability to manage traffic and play a central role in crafting policies that greatly impact the public's Internet use. 

"With greater numbers of people using the Internet for everything from shopping to health care, Internet network management and its effect on the user have become significant public policy concerns," said New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., when announcing the filing of the New York City Pension Funds resolutions.  In order to get the resolutions passed, the Coalition will be seeking support from other shareholders; state pension funds, which hold a large amount of assets in many of these companies, could play a key role in the campaign. State leaders can take action to review whether their pension funds are supporting these resolutions through their proxies.