nsucurrent.com March 17, 2018

Washington governor signs landmark net neutrality bill into law

07 March 2018, 12:05 | Ruby West

Greg Nash

Washington becomes first state to pass net neutrality law after FCC repeal

"We've led the world in commercial airlines, we've led the world in software, and today we're leading the world in net neutrality", Inslee said during the bill signing ceremony Monday.

He said that because the internet is an interstate service, only Congress can pass legislation "that gives all consumers and internet services providers the clarity and consistency needed for a free and open internet". The difference is that Washington's law will put new requirements on ISPs, and that violations will be enforceable thanks to the state's Consumer Protection Act. More than half a dozen other states are also considering net neutrality legislation.

Washington isn't the only state taking such action, even if it's the first to see it through to the finish line.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formalized a long-standing policy with rules against blocking legal content, throttling traffic, and using paid prioritization for some traffic.

Washington's new law, House Bill 2282, protects those net neutrality rules at the state level, ensuring that internet providers can not advantageously manipulate internet speeds and access to content. "It's allowed the free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations of free speech in our history".

The bill prohibits internet providers in Washington from blocking content, services and devices, with a few exceptions.

It is in direct opposition to the Federal Communications Commission regulator, which has moved to roll back net neutrality. The FCC has a clause in its decision that forbids state legislation to contradict it, so a protracted legal fight may be inevitable.

While several states introduced similar measures this year seeking to protect net neutrality, so far only OR and Washington have passed legislation.

The state governments of New York, Montana, New Jersey, Vermont, California and Hawaii have sought to counteract the FCC deregulation with executive orders that set net neutrality principles for contracting of internet service, similar to Oregon's approach.

Washington state was among more than 20 states and the District of Columbia that sued in January to try and block the FCC's action.

But Hansen believes that the FCC relinquished its authority over net neutrality rules by rescinding them nationally.

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