CC by Rick Barry of Broken Shade Photo, Rolling Rebellion Sparks in Seattle to Defend Internet & Stop the TPP

In March, Washington became the first state to pass legislation protecting network neutrality. House Bill 2282 is intended to regulate ISPs (internet service providers) in lieu of the recent Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality, a move that could have large consequences for consumers. Obama era net neutrality provisions have been rolled back by Trump’s F.C.C. appointee since 2017, and the full repeal of neutrality allows broadband providers to slow traffic or even block it altogether on certain sites, and charge more for specific services such as video streaming.

HB 2282 states that ISPs in Washington State must publically disclose accurate information regarding their management practices and commercial terms of service, in order to allow customers to make informed choices. It also disallows ISPs from blocking lawful content or slowing internet traffic based on the content of the site or amount paid by user for access. Finally, engaging in paid prioritization (favoring some traffic over others in exchange for benefits monetary or otherwise) would be a violation of this bill.

This law will be enforced by the Attorney General’s Office as an extension of the Consumer Protection Act, and violations will be considered unfair or deceptive business practices.

The F.C.C. has previously stated that it is the only entity with authority to regulate ISPs due to the interstate nature of the internet. It is possible that ISPs and the F.C.C. will challenge Washington’s legislation on constitutional grounds, but according to the New York Times, the F.C.C. is already facing lawsuits from consumer groups, states attorneys general, and internet companies such as Etsy and Kickstarter.

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