Net neutrality gaining steam in state legislatures after FCC repeal

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State legislators in Nebraska and California are proposing net neutrality laws to replace the US-wide ones repealed by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC repealed its own net neutrality rules andclaims the authority to prevent state and local governments from enacting their own similar net neutrality rules.

But a Nebraska bill, introduced by Democratic Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, would do just that.

"No Internet service provider engaged in the provision of fixed or mobile broadband Internet access service shall impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, application, or service or use of a nonharmful device, subject to reasonable network management," the bill says.

The proposal would also ban paid prioritization, which it defines as directly or indirectly "favor[ing] some traffic over other traffic, including through use of techniques such as traffic shaping, prioritization, resource reservation, or other forms of preferential traffic management, either in exchange for monetary or other consideration from a third party or to benefit an affiliated entity." Paid prioritization would be allowed only when an ISP can demonstrate that it benefits the public and "would not harm the open nature" of its Internet service.

Bipartisan support

Morfeld said he has been surprised by the bipartisan support he's received so far. "I knew I was passionate about it, but I was shocked at the support I received from Republicans, from Democrats and Libertarians," he said, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

While net neutrality is often a politically divisive issue in government, polls show that majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters support net neutrality rules.

Attorneys general from New York and other states plan to sue the FCC to reverse the repeal of federal net neutrality rules and the preemption of local net neutrality rules. But in case the lawsuit fails, legislators in some states are crafting net neutrality bills in ways designed to get around the FCC's attempt at preemption.

A bill in California from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would indirectly enforce net neutrality. For example, Wiener's bill would "Require net neutrality as part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for Internet infrastructure," and "Condition the right to attach small cell or other broadband wireless communications to utility poles on adherence to net neutrality."

Wiener's bill would also "us[e] the state’s market influence as a purchaser of Internet and telecommunications services to effectuate net neutrality" and strengthen consumer protection laws and laws against deceptive and unfair business practice in ways that support net neutrality.

Another California bill from Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) takes a more direct approach by simply banning blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.

In New York, one legislative proposal would require state agencies and local governments to do business only with ISPs that adhere to net neutrality principles, as we previously reported. There's also a net neutrality bill being considered in the Washington state legislature.

The FCC released the final text of its net neutrality repeal on Thursday, setting the stage for lawsuits against the FCC. The Internet Association, a lobby group for Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and other online businesses, pledged to support lawsuits against the FCC.

Enforcing net neutrality one state at a time would likely be less effective than reinstating the federal rules, but ISPs that do business in multiple states might be dissuaded from violating net neutrality across their networks if they face strict rules in parts of their footprints.

Original Article

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Ars Technica

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