Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has teed up the States rights fight with Washington, D.C., Monday (March 5) signing what he billed proudly as the first state law imposing net neutrality "protections" in the wake of the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order rule rollback last December.
The state legislature voted late last year to prohibit companies offering internet access from blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization.
ISPs have said they don't and won't block or throttle, but generally want the freedom to experiment with paid prioritization business models, though they have signaled that doesn't mean creating fast and slow "lanes."
“Today we make history: Washington will be the first state in the nation to preserve the open internet,” said Inslee. “We’ve seen the power of an open internet. It allows a student in Washington to connect with researchers all around the world—or a small business to compete in the global marketplace. It’s allowed the free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations of free speech in our history.”
It is one of several states with bills in the works, in addition, governors in a handful of other states have signed executive orders preventing state contracts with ISPs who don't hew to similar prohibitions.
The FCC's Restoring Internet Order rolling back the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization also said it preempted state attempts to re-impose them, but it is unclear how that applies to state contracts. In any case, a legal fight is brewing along with the other legal fight--companies and groups that have begun to sue to roll back the December rule rollback, plus the effort by Hill Democrats--and one Republican--to nullify the Restoring Internet Freedom order via a Congressional Review Act resolution.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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