Washington becomes first state to approve net-neutrality rules

March 6, 2018 by Rachel La Corte
Washington becomes 1st state to approve net-neutrality rules
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks after signing a bill Monday, March 5, 2018, in Olympia, Wash., that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of Obama-era rules. The FCC voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or interfering with online traffic.

"We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so," Gov. Jay Inslee said before signing the measure that lawmakers passed with bipartisan support. "We know how important this is."

As he has done frequently over the past year, Inslee took aim at President Donald Trump's administration, saying the decision by the Federal Communications Commission was "a clear case of the Trump administration favoring powerful corporate interests over the interests of millions of Washingtonians and Americans."

The FCC voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. The regulations also prohibited providers from favoring some sites and apps over others.

Because the FCC prohibited state laws from contradicting its decision, opponents of the Washington law have said it would lead to lawsuits.

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

Washington becomes 1st state to approve net-neutrality rules
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill Monday, March 5, 2018, in Olympia, Wash., that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of Obama-era rules. The FCC voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The new law also requires internet providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state's Consumer Protection Act.

While several states introduced similar measures this year seeking to protect net neutrality, so far only Oregon and Washington have passed legislation. But Oregon's measure wouldn't put any new requirements on internet providers.

It would stop state agencies from buying internet service from any company that blocks or prioritizes specific content or apps, starting in 2019. It's unclear when Oregon's measure would be signed into law.

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. There are also efforts by Democrats to undo the move in Congress.

Washington becomes 1st state to approve net-neutrality rules
A bill that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of Obama-era rules awaits the signature of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Monday, March 5, 2018 in Olympia, Wash. The FCC voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Governors in five —Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana and Vermont—have signed executive orders related to net-neutrality issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Montana's order, for instance, bars telecommunications companies from receiving state contracts if they interfere with internet traffic or favor higher-paying sites or apps.

Big telecom companies have said rules could undermine investment in broadband and introduce uncertainty about what are acceptable business practices. Net-neutrality advocates say the FCC decision harms innovation and make it harder for the government to crack down on who act against consumer interests.

The FCC's new rules are not expected to go into effect until later this spring. Washington's law will take effect in June.

Washington becomes 1st state to approve net-neutrality rules
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, speaks before signing a bill Monday, March 5, 2018, in Olympia, Wash., that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of Obama-era rules. The FCC voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Ron Main, executive director of the Broadband Communications Association of Washington, which opposed the bill, said the cable companies his group represents have already pledged not to block legal content or engage in paid prioritization.

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 ."

"There should not be a state-by-state patchwork of differing laws and regulations," he said in a statement.

Washington becomes 1st state to approve net-neutrality rules
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks after signing a bill Monday, March 5, 2018, in Olympia, Wash., that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of Obama-era rules. The FCC voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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6 comments

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Thorium Boy
not rated yet Mar 06, 2018
Wow! Talk about separation of state and fed law. When does Washington succeed??
Turgent
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 06, 2018
Wow! Talk about separation of state and fed law. When does Washington succeed??


Good point there may be a conflict with the interstate commerce clause of the constitution.

The internet, streaming services, and other innovations are still emerging technologies and industries. The past 30 years has shown us that keeping the money grubbing hands of government out of innovation promotes the greatest innovation. When big tech firms try to establish competitive advantage by some means another tech firms finds a way around it.

Now the big tech firms are the biggest lobbyists in Washington DC. This was why Obama instituted Net Neutrality in the last year of his admin. Net Neutrality is crony capitalism and like the Affordable Care Act a contradiction. Net Neutrality is the code word for government control and tax for new spending and vote buying.
carbon_unit
5 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2018
Net Neutrality is the code word for government control and tax for new spending and vote buying.
Wow. Exactly backwards. The only power that can protect consumers from having their internet communications messed with and info sold to the highest bidder is the force of regulations, enforced by government. It most likely takes much more effort to keep track of who gave in to the kickback "requests" of the ISPs to adjust traffic priorities (in)appropriately. Don't think I've heard where NN has a tax angle. That's a separate issue.
leetennant
5 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2018
Yeah a "special interest group" like "every US consumer of internet services".
Damn those "special interest groups". If only we had the money the tech giants have, we could also have bought US policy on this issue. Just like they did. Oh wait, that's what the NRA does as well. Anyone would think the US is just entirely crony capitalism at this point.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2018
Hey Turgent and Mackita, how much you trolls make for posting these lies?

Net neutrality means the internet is treated as a public forum with a level playing field. Getting ride of net neutrality means the big ISPs get to choose who wins and who loses on the internet. It is no surprise the Republicans sold control of the internet to their donors the way they sell off everything else.

Most people want net neutrality, but most people want to keep AR-15s out of the hands of teenagers and the criminally insane too. The Republicans will take the money and screw over the American people every time. How is the Republican Party not a criminal organization? Perhaps the RICO laws (designed to counter-act organized crime) might be applicable here.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2018
Mackita, thank you for straightening that out.

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