Washington has now become the first state in the nation to pass a law protecting net neutrality. Other states, including California and Oregon, are expected to follow suit.
Update, Mar. 5th: the bill has officially been signed into law by Washington governor Jay Inslee. “We feel very confident of our position,” Inslee stated. “The states have a full right to protect our citizens where the federal government has gone AWOL.”
In a bold statement against the Trump-led FCC, the State of Washington has officially passed a law protecting net neutrality. The bill, HB2282, received a lopsided 95-3 vote in the House earlier this month. Late today (Tuesday, Feb. 27th), the bill received a 35-14 vote in the state’s Senate.
Rep. Drew Hanson (D-Bainbridge Island), the bill’s prime sponsor, shared the development. “Today’s vote guarantees the net neutrality rules that have protected a free and open internet will continue to remain in place in Washington state,” Hanson emailed. “Net neutrality is important to everyone – our constituents, small business owners, teachers, entrepreneurs, everyone. This is a cause with overwhelming bipartisan support; it’s always nice to see something where Democrats and Republicans can work together to maintain common-sense consumer protections.”
Hanson stressed that the bill was a bipartisan effort. Indeed, Republican Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) was the bill’s co-sponsor.
Specifically, the bill makes it illegal for any ISP to:
- Block customers’ access to lawful content
- ‘Throttle’ or slowing down lawful content
- Favor certain content over others due to ‘paid prioritization’
Any ISP found violating any of those core tenets will face serious fines and penalties. Continued violations may result in a revocation of an ISP’s license to conduct business in the state.
Of course, those three tenets are expressly permitted by the FCC’s recent repeal of net neutrality. All of which sets the stage for a serious battle between Washington State and the FCC. In its rollback, the FCC attempted to make state laws protecting net neutrality null and void, though any ISP testing that power is likely to lose its business in Washington.
Importantly, the Washington State law closely follows the FCC’s official submission of its net neutrality repeal into the Federal Register. That triggers a 60-day approval window before the rollback becomes federal law.
Meanwhile, Washington’s strong statement is likely to be followed by other powerful U.S. states. That includes California, whose House has already passed a net neutrality bill with passage likely from the Senate. In Oregon, a similar bill has also passed the lower House. Elsewhere, Nebraska recently introduced a bill, potentially making it the first red state to push back.
The developments in Washington are being cheered by the state’s considerable tech industry. “Today, Washington took a stand for internet freedoms and preserving an equal playing field for consumers and entrepreneurs,” remarked Sarah Bird, CEO of Seattle-based search engine optimization company MOZ. “Our internet economy is the envy of the world; Washington lawmakers are helping make sure that remains true.”
Governor Jay Inslee is expected to officially sign HB2282 this week. Inslee has now signed the bill.
A copy of the bill can be found here.