More States Mulling Independent Net Neutrality Legislation

AH Internet Net Neutrality 2

Dozens of states are currently working on separate initiatives that all aim to protect net neutrality through legislation or executive orders. Those initiatives vary in form, but they all seek to keep the protections the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently subverted. In December last year, the FCC officially voted 3-to-2 to repeal the Title II net neutrality rules, with Chairman Ajit Pai claiming that the net neutrality regulations overburden the industry and stifle innovation. Nonetheless, the move ended up being challenged in courts across the country and was open to scrutiny by the U.S. Congress, which has been facing public pressure over a federal intervention that both ISPs and consumers have been calling for.

Current efforts to keep net neutrality in place include a lawsuit signed by attorneys general from several states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky to challenge the FCC’s decision. Meanwhile, other states such as New York, Montana, Vermont, and New Jersey already inked executive orders to prevent net neutrality from being completely eradicated. In addition to such lawsuits and executive orders, more than 30 states have proposed or are in the process of proposing laws to circumvent the FCC’s ruling, including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, and Illinois. The California State Senate, in particular, recently voted to enact SB-460, a bill that aims to define net neutrality protections in the state to challenge the recent repeal of Title II regulations. The bill was proposed by Senator Kevin de León and is now headed to the State Assembly, the lower house of the California State Legislature, where it’s likely to be approved.

It remains to be seen how many such bills are going to pass into law, especially as the FCC’s repeal already contains a provision trying to supersede state rights and prevent them from enacting their own regulations meant to protect the open Internet. The old ruleset will officially be revoked in late April, two months after the telecom agency published its polarizing decision in the Federal Register.