States pursue net neutrality rules after FCC rollback

States pursue net neutrality rules after FCC rollback
© Greg Nash

States are moving to write their own net neutrality regulations after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December decided to scrap the Obama-era internet rules.

California, New York and Washington are pushing their own versions of net neutrality rules and more state governments are expected to do the same, according to a report from Fast Company.

The FCC's net neutrality rules prevented broadband service providers from blocking or slowing down websites or creating internet "fast lanes." The rules were intended to create a level playing field on the internet. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's measure rolling back net neutrality, though, also pre-empts states from passing similar rules.

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According to the report, states are taking different paths to ensure companies follow net neutrality principles.

In New York, for example, state legislators are crafting legislation that would only allow broadband providers that comply with net neutrality to receive state and local government contracts.

California legislators are considering something along these lines as well, but are also weighing regulating broadband providers directly via consumer protection laws.

“The FCC issued their fiat that tells the states they can’t do anything. We don’t think the FCC has that power, and they’ve lost that argument in court before,” California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Fast Company.

In Washington state, legislators have proposed a bill similar to the FCC net neutrality rules. A draft of the bill includes a provision that would force internet service providers to “disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices.”

Should internet service providers not live up to net neutrality standards, states and consumer groups would be able to pursue action against them accordingly.

Democrats control the legislatures in those three states, but net neutrality bills could still face obstacles.

In California, legislators were unable to pass privacy legislation targeting internet service providers after industry opposition.