Published: Wed, March 07, 2018
Economy | By

More tech companies join fight against net neutrality repeal

More tech companies join fight against net neutrality repeal

Washington state has stepped up to become the first to fully thumb its nose to the FCC by passing its own Net Neutrality protections.

Washington state lawmakers and other supporters surround Gov. Jay Inslee at a net neutrality bill signing ceremony in Olympia Monday.

The bill received strong bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature, overcoming the objections of opponents who said the state should wait for Congress to enact nationwide legislation. The law will prevent Big Telecom from slowing down internet access, prioritizing certain traffic, or censoring content online.

This crusade should continue until sense is restored at the Federal Communications Commission, which voted in December to rescind its 2015 net neutrality rules, including the classification of broadband as an essential utility.

In an official rebuke of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal net neutrality on the federal level, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the nation's first state law to protect the policy. Nevertheless, consumers across the political spectrum were angered by the FCC's vote to repeal the rules, with many expressing concerns that the end of net neutrality could dampen free speech, lead to higher costs for consumers and allow ISPs to decide what services they use on the web. However, the FCC's order bars state laws from contradicting the federal government's approach, setting up the possibility that state efforts like Washington's will wind up in court.

Inslee said he was confident of its legality, saying "the states have a full right to protect their citizens".

The law will prohibit companies that offer internet services from blocking legal content, applications, services or non-harmful devices. Washington's law will take effect June 6, two months after the FCC's new rules are slated to go into effect. And multiple governors, including in NY and Montana, have signed executive actions that prohibit internet service providers with state contracts from blocking or slowing data on their lines. State attorneys general have sued to overturn the FCC's new rules. But he thinks the executive orders banning state agencies from doing business with non-neutral broadband providers are more likely to withstand legal challenges.

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