Oregon Becomes the Second U.S. State to Pass a Net Neutrality Law

Oregon governor Kate Brown signs House Bill 4155 protecting Net neutrality, Monday, April 5th, 2018.
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Oregon governor Kate Brown signs House Bill 4155 protecting Net neutrality, Monday, April 5th, 2018.
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Oregon governor Kate Brown signs House Bill 4155 protecting Net neutrality, Monday, April 5th, 2018.

It’s official: Oregon is now the second U.S. state with a law protecting net neutrality.  As expected, Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 4155 today (Monday, April 9th).

The FCC’s net neutrality repeal just encountered another giant roadblock.  As widely expected, Oregon governor Kate Brown has now signed a bill that would mandate net neutrality throughout the state.  Effectively, that means no paid prioritization, blocking of legitimate sites, or throttling by ISPs operating within the state.

The signature makes Oregon the second U.S. state to pass a net neutrality law, following a similar move by Washington State in February.  Both measures sailed through their respective legislatures, underscoring how important the issue has become in both states.

“I’m very proud to sign Oregon’s bill into law today,” Brown tweeted.  “It’s very important that the internet remains open and accessible for everyone.”

The bill firmly establishes net neutrality as the law for ISPs, and expressly prohibits practices like paid prioritization, site throttling, and blocking of legitimate sites.

“In Oregon, we want to make sure that access to the internet is a level playing field, instead of exacerbating economic disparity,” Brown offered in a statement.

The signature happened at the Mount Tabor Middle School in Portland (as pictured above).

Oregon’s law is somewhat less restrictive than Washington’s.  The Oregon measure doesn’t technically prohibit ISPs from repealing net neutrality provisions for residential and business accounts.  But any ISP implementing neutrality-unfriendly practices like ‘fast lanes’ and throttling would be banned from doing any business with Oregon state agencies.  So the end result may be the same.

The signature sets the stage for California, which is expected to pass the strongest net neutrality law in the nation.  California’s bill is currently in the state’s Senate chamber, and has stringent protections bulletproofed by allies like Stanford Law School and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Collectively, California, Oregon, and Washington are ready to wage a serious war against the FCC and its chairman, Ajit Pai.  Indeed, the entire west coast of the United States will soon be in  direct opposition to the net neutrality rollback.  That promises a huge battle ahead, with broadband providers like Comcast caught in the crossfire.  Already, a league of ISPs — including Comcast, Verizon, and Cox Communications — have been spending heavily to buy legislation in Congress that would outlaw state net neutrality provisions.

Movement towards municipal ISPs.

The laws are also setting the stage for municipal, tax-funded ISPs.  Just recently, Los Angeles started exploring the development of a citywide broadband network.  San Francisco is also moving in a similar direction, with a public-private broadband partnership that would exclude mega-ISPs like Comcast.

Other municipalities are already there, most notably Fort Collins, CO, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Both have robust, self-created broadband networks that are drawing the attention of planners in bigger cities.

Back in Washington, ISPs are focusing intently on Congressional laws that would ban states from enacting net neutrality laws.  But until those laws take effect, broadband ISPs will have to comply with a state-by-state patchwork of regulations — arguably a problem they created for themselves.