Verizon shareholders vote down net-neutrality proposal

But Open MIC executive director Michael Connor told The Hill that the vote was just the first step in educating shareholders about net neutrality.

"These are multi-year efforts. It doesn't happen overnight," he said.

He noted that the vote cleared the 3 percent threshold necessary to ensure the issue can appear on the ballot again next year.

"For us to get the vote that we did, we found quite gratifying," he said. "We would have been happy with 4 or 5 percent. So to get above that was significant."

Net neutrality bars Internet providers from slowing down of blocking access to legitimate websites.

The proposal sought to justify the policy using statistics showing that minority and low-income Americans disproportionately use mobile devices to access the Internet, rather than through traditional broadband services on a personal computer. The plan quoted Colorofchange.org: "The digital freedoms at stake are a 21st century civil rights issue.” 

Verizon's board had publicly opposed the proposal, telling the Securities and Exchange Commission "[t]his proposal would substantially interfere with the technical operation of Verizon's wireless broadband network and have a wide-ranging and significant impact on Verizon's business and operations" by preventing the company from engaging in "reasonable network management."

The board also noted the specific policy recommended by the shareholder proposal had been rejected by the Federal Communications Commission, which made allowances for network management practices in its network-neutrality rules, though they still drew a court challenge which has left them in legal limbo pending a resolution by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. 

The proposal gets one more chance this year when Sprint Nextel shareholders meet on Tuesday at the company's headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.

—Updated at 6:50 p.m.

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