States Continue Taking on Net Neutrality as Senate Receives Official Notice from FCC
The United States Senate received the FCC’s official notice regarding scraping net neutrality regulations today, which marks the first step in the 60-day deadline Congress has to stop the repeal using the Congressional Review Act. States have also been tackling net neutrality since the moment the FCC repealed existing guidelines under Title ll, in an attempt to fight back and address the issue themselves. Many states are working on legislation to protect consumers’ access to the Internet at the state level since the federal government now fails to do so – with some major developments out of California this week. These efforts are notable because local net neutrality policies are being considered despite the FCC’s declaration preempting states from enacting their own laws.
California First State to Advance Law
California, unsurprisingly, is the first state close to passing such a bill. On January 30 a bill to impart net neutrality restrictions in the state passed through the Senate. The bill will stop Internet providers from “Blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.” It would also prohibit throttling, “paid prioritization, or providing preferential treatment of some Internet traffic to any Internet customer.”
In general, the bill disallows ISPs from interfering with a customers access, choice or use of Internet access and to applications and content. ISPs would also be forbidden from using deceptive or misleading marketing practices “that misrepresent the treatment of Internet traffic or content to its customers” with any violations punishable by law.
Additional State Efforts
California’s law varies from other state-level efforts, as it focuses specifically on net neutrality rather than imparting requirements on what providers state agencies (governments) can use. Montana, New York, Washington, New Jersey and Vermont have signed executive orders to enforce net neutrality. Specifically, these orders ban non-Neutral ISPs from doing business with the government. Some other states are also playing around with legislation.
21 states are suing the FCC in an effort to reverse the repeal and preemption of state laws.
Update – March 2018
In a bipartisan effort on March 5th, Washington State became the first of the abovementioned states to enact legislation which safeguards net neutrality. Regardless of the FCC’s resistance to the notion of states undermining their federal decision, Washington will enforce the prohibition of ISPs throttling, blocking or using paid prioritization for legal content and services under the new Consumer Protection Act. The new law goes into effect June 6, but will likely end up seeing the inside of additional courtrooms as the FCC fights for its authority based on constitutional reasons which prohibit individual states from enacting laws regulating commerce crossing state lines.
Existing net neutrality rules are scheduled to end on April 23rd.
Sources: Ars Technica