Washington is now the first state to pass a legislation that protects net neutrality. The House Bill 2282 was signed by Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday morning. The bill will try to achieve a number of things. First, it will prevent Internet Service Providers from slowing down Internet speed and blocking legal content, services, and apps. The law also prohibits ISPs from paid prioritization, a practice where Internet Service Providers prioritize content that benefits them.
Inslee says that the bill was inspired by the need to enhance consumer protection. The governor urged other states to act because millions of citizens in the country have been stripped of rights like the open internet. Associated Press says that this is not the first such legislation to be passed. The state of Oregon also passed a law on net neutrality. However, the Washington law is different because unlike the Oregon law, violations by ISPs will be enforceable under Washington’s CPA.
Net neutrality has been enjoyed by millions of internet users for years. However, the Federal Communication Commission voted 3-2 in December last year to remove net neutrality rules. The FCC also warned states from passing laws that contradict this directive. Since federal laws are considered superior to state laws, it’s very likely that Washington’s actions might attract some backlash from ISPs. It’s also very likely that ISPs will sue the state.
The FCC says that there is a need for one universal federal law on net neutrality. The agency notes that if states were to implement their own net neutrality laws then there will be a lot of confusion. However, it seems that states will not accept this. While signing the new legislation in Washington, Governor Inslee said that it was within the rights of any state to protect its consumers. Inslee added that he was confident on the legality of this move. The FCC has lost once on a similar ruling.
The removal of net neutrality by the FCC has been met with a lot of resistance from various quarters too. A number of lawsuits have already been filed to counter the directive. Democratic lawmakers are also fighting the proposed repeal in the Senate. Other states such as New York have also stepped up their opposition to the repeal. An executive order signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo made it mandatory for ISPs to follow net neutrality rules even after FCC repeal comes into effect.
The FCC says that the repeal will come into effect starting April, 23rd. The new legislation signed in Washington will come into effect a few months later on June 6th. Push back by states on the FCC repeal is expected to continue. Democratic-leaning states are going to lead the way. But the FCC has already made it clear that it will not back down on this issue so we will just have to wait and see.