Washington Becomes First State To Sign Net Neutrality Bill Into Law

Paul Tong  Op-Art

Paul Tong Op-Art

The agency's order repealing its net neutrality rules cites a long history of preempting state law.

Given the Trump FCC's dunderhead move to gut U.S.net neutrality rules, it's interesting to see what the states are doing to counter that environment.

The bill (PDF) was signed by Democrat Governor Jay Inslee into law on Monday night.

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. On the Governor's press page, Inslee said, "Today we make history: Washington will be the first state in the nation to preserve the open internet".

It was only in 2015 that the FCC acceded to the millions of activists pressuring it to adopt historic net neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open - allowing people to share and access information of their choosing without interference. Providers are also required to disclose certain information to customers.

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New rules mean internet service providers won't be able to slow or block content in the state-but federal laws might yet trump them.

Yet the FCC decision was not fully supported by all FCC commissioners, as it was only passed after a 3-2 vote in December. If other states follow Washington's lead, ISPs in those states would also operate under different rules. It will take effect in 90 days, or whenever the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom order takes effect. The House of Representatives had previously passed a similar bill in 2017, but it was not acted on by the Republican-controlled Senate. Other states, such as California and Washington, have cast a much wider net with bills created to effectively restore several net neutrality regulations for ISPs serving state agencies, businesses, and consumers alike. Let's stop pretending that some issues can or should be above partisanship... in a free country that prizes an open exchange of ideas in its politics, partisanship is to be expected.

In Washington, House Bill 2282 will protect its residents and small businesses from throttling of internet traffic at the state level.

"The fight for net neutrality is the fight for civil liberties and a more vibrant culture", Candace Martin, commercial counsel for Kickstarter.

Washington is not the only state making this stance. It's unclear when Oregon's measure would be signed into law.

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