Nebraska The First 'Red' State To Craft Its Own Net Neutrality Law

from the the-people-have-spoken dept

So we've noted repeatedly how the attack on net neutrality is just one small part of a much larger, dumber plan by major ISPs to neuter nearly all federal and state oversight. A plan that involves gutting all meaningful FCC authority over broadband ISPs, then shoveling any remaining authority to the FTC. An FTC (surprise surprise) the broadband industry is currently in court arguing has no authority over broadband providers. Ajit Pai's FCC (at Verizon and Comcast lobbyists' request) also included provisions pre-empting states from trying to protect consumer privacy or net neutrality.

So far individual states aren't listening. New York, Washington, Minnesota, Massachusetts and California are all pushing their own net neutrality rules. And since the FCC's net neutrality repeal prohibits states from passing such laws, many of these states are creatively eyeing provisions that require ISPs adhere to net neutrality if they want to win government contracts, or if they want to keep getting taxpayer subsidies for those fiber networks they always tend to leave half built anyway.

ISP lobbyists have already begun trying to argue that these individual state efforts create a discordant patchwork of regulations that may be difficult to adhere to. But that's the sort of thing said lobbyists should have thought about before rushing mindlessly to destroy federal net neutrality rules. Rules that were actually among the more modest of any of the developed nations that have passed such protections (see The Netherlands, India, Japan, Canada, Germany).

Nebraska has now added itself to the list of states stepping up to the plate in the wake of federal consumer apathy. State Senator Adam Morfeld has introduced LB 856 (pdf), which would restore the federal net neutrality rules on the state level, and prevent ISPs from "limiting or restricting access to web sites, applications, or content." Speaking to his hometown newspaper, Morfield expressed surprise at the volume of bipartisan feedback he received in the wake of the FCC's decision:

"For me, this is an economic development and consumer protection bill,” Morfeld said. “The internet drives the economy now and it’s critical people have open and fair access to the internet. I knew I was passionate about it, but I was shocked at the support I received from Republicans, from Democrats and Libertarians," he said.

He shouldn't be surprised. Survey after survey (including some from the industry itself) show that net neutrality has broad, bipartisan support among consumers. One recent poll indicated that 83% of Americans opposed the FCC's handout to the telecom sector. The fact that the FCC ignored this support in its rush to repeal the rules will be playing a starring role in the looming lawsuits awaiting the agency later this year.

Whether Nebraska's law will be preempted by FCC authority is something else the courts will have to hash out, especially since the FCC has had its wrist slapped for overreach in the past when it has tried to preempt state authority on matters of broadband. ISP lobbyists (and the countless think tankers, lobbyists, consultants and academics paid to love them) express breathless adoration of "states rights" when states are criticized for passing anti-competitive state laws, but when those same states actually try to protect consumers and small businesses, you'll notice that this adoration of states rights magically disappears.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 4:45am

    Much like states are legalizing marijuana by themselves while the federal govt closes their eyes to how failed and harmful is the war on drugs? Bring it on.

    I'm hoping this leads to the end of violations as a whole, including data caps (I can dream, no?) and widespread deployment of municipal broadband.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Iggy, 11 Jan 2018 @ 6:29am

      Re:

      The legacy of this administration: States banding together to solve national and global problems on their own without help from the federal government and in some cases against the will of the federal government.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 6:40am

        Re: Re:

        Time will tell whether that's a positive or a negative in the long term. It's great that they're stepping forward to fix problems they believe are being caused on a federal level, but far too often "states rights" in some corners refers to the ability to discriminate or institute a theocracy. Let's see where this leads...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ShadowNinja (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 7:29am

        Re: Re:

        They're also trying much more to actively undermine the federal government when they harm them.

        Some high tax states like California and New York are making creative loopholes to get around the new $10,000 cap on SALT deductions (deducting taxes paid to state & local governments from your federal taxes), by allowing you to donate to state run charity organizations for dollar for dollar credits on your state taxes. (charity donations are deductible with no limits if you itemize in the new tax law)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am puzzled by the seemingly blind eye given to these obvious double taxation schemes. Many well to do often complain about the capitol gains tax being double taxation, and I agree - but they seem to ignore the many other instances. I thought this was because they were not affected but that has now changed - where is the outrage? I'm not very happy about paying tax twice sometimes three times on the same dollar. Hopefully these ridiculous tax provisions will be stuck down soon.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            An Onymous Coward (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 10:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            We're unlikely to ever shed the burden of gas tax, liquor tax and luxury tax on money already taxed at the state and federal levels.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Many moons ago, such things were deductible.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              The Wanderer (profile), 12 Jan 2018 @ 11:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Those aren't taxes on money, though; they're taxes on the purchase of specific products.

              As I understand matters, the idea of "double taxation" only really comes into the picture when the same transaction is being taxed twice. (E.g., a federal income tax and a state income tax both target the same transaction: the transfer of money from your employer to you.) If this weren't the case, any later tax on money which had been subject to an income tax would be double taxation.

              With a gas tax, the transaction being targeted is the purchase of the gas. The same thing applies to a liquor tax, luxury tax, cigarette tax, or what-have-you; in each case, there is a specific transaction which is being taxed.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ryunosuke (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re:

        maybe we should have a system of government that oversees all of those states and make a broad set of rules they could abide by?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:52am

      Re:

      Much like states are legalizing marijuana by themselves while the federal govt closes their eyes to how failed and harmful is the war on drugs?

      Not much like that, no.

      This is happening in state legislatures. To date, only one state has legalized marijuana through its legislature; the rest have done it through ballot referenda, usually against the wishes of the state legislature.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 7:35am

    Nebraska's legislature is 'non-partisan' so that might also have something to do with this.

    By 'non-partisan' I mean you can't run as a member of a political party. Everyone is listed as unaffiliated on the ballot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 7:54am

    see guys

    The destruction of NN by Pai was not so bad.

    It is finally getting "better" gears moving. Next time it will be much harder for a turd like Pai to fuck it up for everyone "IF" this moment keeps up.

    It is far better for each state to develop their own NN rules or ISP networks to put a stick in the eye of the incumbent government and regulatory blessed monopolies!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:02am

      Re: see guys

      /s? If not, then WTF?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re: see guys

        He's saying that it's far better for the American Internet for there to be 50 different bureaucracies each with their own rules and regulations, and the inevitable problems getting them to all work together, then there to be a single bureaucracy that happens to be imperfect.

        He is, sadly, serious.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:46am

          Re: Re: Re: see guys

          "and the inevitable problems getting them to all work together,"

          well if you are going to be that ignorant about the problem maybe you should shut up and avoid discussing it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

            Or, some knowledgeable person could tell me why I'm wrong? You're yet to supply me with a reason why your country is so incapable of implementing a solution that's present in most other first world countries, nor are you explaining why it's better to have 50 of them instead of one.

            But, no, like your accusing me of lying when I present facts in previous threads, you're not here for an honest discussion.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

              "Or, some knowledgeable person could tell me why I'm wrong? You're yet to supply me with a reason why your country is so incapable of implementing a solution that's present in most other first world countries, nor are you explaining why it's better to have 50 of them instead of one."

              I don't claim to be super "knowledgeable", but I'll try to meet your challenge.

              Did you happen to see who we voted in as President? We replaced an incompetent President with a circus clown. Apparently as a whole, we are not the brightest people in the world. Understanding that; Can you start to see why the individual States would want to take matters into their own hands? We are incompetent at a federal level at best, willfully corrupt at worst. Having a patchwork of laws on the books by state is not a great solution, but it is better than what we have now, which is nothing.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Iggy, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:50pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

                These peoples credibility has long evaporated. Whether the "patchwork of laws" is an issue should be up to third parties to decide as we've already heard enough about network congestion necessitating data caps, the infeasability of line sharing, and the onerous regulatory burden of clearly communicating prices and fees.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 12 Jan 2018 @ 12:50am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

                "We are incompetent at a federal level at best, willfully corrupt at worst."

                Are the states really that much different? I see lots and lots of stories about corrupt and useless people at the state level, they just don't get as much focus outside of their electorate because they don't affect as many people as the orange clown.

                "Having a patchwork of laws on the books by state is not a great solution, but it is better than what we have now, which is nothing"

                Rushing to implement "something" rather than carefully considering the actual best course of action is what gets people in a lot of their messes to begin with. "Nothing" could actually be better than a hideous patchwork of rushed, poorly considered laws passed by people who have no direct knowledge of the subject (and so are highly vulnerable to manipulation by the existing monopolies).

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2018 @ 5:44am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

                  "Are the states really that much different?"

                  IMO, Yes, they are. It is a hell of a lot easier for the people to participate politically on a state level vrs federal. I can quite literally drive over to my local representatives office and ask to be seen; In contrast; I'll probably never get to knock on Trump's door.

                  Is their some corruption at the state level? Sure there is. But it is not a blanket that wraps up the entire country like federal does.

                  "Rushing to implement "something" rather than carefully considering the actual best course of action is what gets people in a lot of their messes to begin with. "Nothing" could actually be better than a hideous patchwork of rushed, poorly considered laws passed by people who have no direct knowledge of the subject (and so are highly vulnerable to manipulation by the existing monopolies)."

                  I would argue this is why NN failed in the first place. A partisan vote created NN, and a partisan vote destroyed it. Live by the sword, die by the sword. If they really wanted NN to be a lasting thing, you would think they would reach across the isle and come to an agreement that both sides could live with. If they could not do that, then doing nothing would have indeed been better, to that point we agree. However,Now that it's been created, then destroyed, it's left a vacuum. The states are trying to fill that vacuum before the Federal Government does. Looking at the partisan history of NN, I can't say that I blame them.

                  These are my opinions. Your welcome to disagree, but I think history supports my opinions quite well. We tried NN at a Federal level and it failed. Short of doing nothing, and if the courts fail to reverse what's been done, I think the states have every right to protect their constituents.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

            Why yes ... let's all bend over backwards for the poor little corporate world because it is soo difficult for them to accommodate - Whaaaaa.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: see guys

        So the states should follow the rules the federal regulator set?

        There is a reason for states rights, this is a good reason to exercise them.

        If an ISP only operates at the local level then the FCC technically has no authority over them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:29am

          Re: Re: Re: see guys

          If an ISP only operates at the local level then the FCC technically has no authority over them.

          Do you understand how the Internet works? That's like saying that if a courier service that delivers interstate packages only operates at the local level, then the federal government technically has no authority over them.

          ISPs are more than a local information service. And the FCC manages RF emissions even if your device will only ever broadcast in-state.

          The relationship between Federal and State laws and rights is not so simple as you appear to want to paint it. Local actions DO have larger repercussions, and having federal oversight is generally a good thing. What's a bad thing is when that oversight turns into management of local behavior, and the constitution and associated case law has safeguards that theoretically protect against that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

            "Do you understand how the Internet works?"

            In many ways, he's already confirmed that in the negative, among many other subjects.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: see guys

            Those damned states are setting their own speed limits again - time to bring the hammer down - hard this time!!!!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:09am

      Re: see guys

      "Next time it will be much harder for a turd like Pai to fuck it up for everyone "

      Also far, far more difficult for anyone competent to fix things.

      "It is far better for each state to develop their own NN rules or ISP networks to put a stick in the eye of the incumbent government and regulatory blessed monopolies!"

      Because state government blessed monopolies are better? Why not use the federal government to restrict and break up the monopolies, as other countries have done to generate real competition, rather than have 50 different state rules for traffic which will cross their boundaries during every single communication?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:04am

        Re: Re: see guys

        @PaulIT

        Because it's really not a federal problem. State utility commissions and local governments generally have more say in who is actually able to run the last mile.

        The BGP and peering are working as well as ever, and there's a lot of dark fiber around. It's the last mile that's the main bottleneck to competition, and it's where states and municipalities can exert the most influence.

        What would help at the federal level is strong liability protections (common carrier style, if and ISP treats all traffic equally, they are not liable for it), which would let a lot of co-ops and small guys inter the biz.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Re: see guys

          "State utility commissions and local governments generally have more say in who is actually able to run the last mile."

          Possible, but "last mile" is far from the actual problem. It is part of how the major ISPs have gained local monopolies, for sure. But, it's neither the only problem nor something that could not have been solved in ways that other countries have solved on a national basis.

          "a lot of co-ops and small guys inter the biz"

          While a neat thing to happen, there's more problems with things like collusion and the fact that so many major ISPs are closely married to content and server provision that this type of thing won't come close to solving. There's also the problem on timescales - local loop unbundling too a long, long time for many places in the UK, so even if this started today in the US the effects of removing NN at the federal level will be massively felt for a long time before the benefit of competition becomes visible.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2018 @ 7:37am

        Re: Re: see guys

        Here are the pros and cons of centralized FCC control as I see it, although the parallels also apply to the highest offices in the land:

        Centralized control works great as long as the people running it are completely incorruptible ethical individuals with a devotion to duty.

        Unfortunately, people retire/die/get fired and jobs change hands. The power belongs to the office, not the person, so any increased power granted to the office gets passed on to the next person, who may be a blatantly corrupt corporate shill, or some tyrannical psychopath.

        I have personally never heard of any government, ever, in all of history, ceding authority without being forced.

        It is a heck of a lot easier to fire a state legislator than it is to give a sitting federal representative the boot. If, lets say, an FCC chairman or even a President screws up, it takes a LOT of work to kick them out of office, and even then they are pretty much immune to repercussions.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 11:46am

    Isn't this what is supposed to happen? Instead of making a toothless regulatory body, corrupt to it's core and (arguably) at them whim of whatever administration is at the helm, lawmakers are passing actual laws that protect and benefit their States? I realize this may create somewhat of a patchwork, but we ARE a patchwork of States right? I feel like this is how it's supposed to work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 11:50am

      Re:

      In furtherance; Is having 50 different NN laws on the books really a bad thing? Can you imagine how much it's going to cost and how crazy it will be for Companies like Comcast to fight each and every State separately? This has got to be a nightmare situation for the big ISP's. Probably why they tried to make it so States couldn't pass their own laws.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:10pm

        Re: Re:

        "Can you imagine how much it's going to cost and how crazy it will be for Companies like Comcast .... "

        You mean those same corporations that want to know exactly where you are and exactly what you are up to 24/7?
        Yeah, it will be sooo difficult for them to accommodate such differences in their customer base.


        "This has got to be a nightmare situation for the big ISP's."

        Poor babies

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 12:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "You mean those same corporations that want to know exactly where you are and exactly what you are up to 24/7? "

          Yup, those are the ones. They share that affliction with the U.S. Government apparently.

          "Yeah, it will be sooo difficult for them to accommodate such differences in their customer base."

          Not difficult, expensive. Hopefully to the point it's not worth doing.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 12 Jan 2018 @ 12:46am

        Re: Re:

        "Can you imagine how much it's going to cost and how crazy it will be for Companies like Comcast to fight each and every State separately?"

        Depends on how it's implemented. If federal laws no longer exist to override them, there may be nothing to stop them pulling the same trick as the credit card companies did and simply make it so that they are technically only located in the states(s) with the most favourable laws. If implemented in ways that make this possible, that's exactly what they would do.

        Plus, they already showed they have no problem buying federal legislators to write laws the way they want them written,. Why would you assume they'd spend the money fighting laws rather than just buying the state legislators as well?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 5:23pm

    A small edit

    Nebraska has now added itself to the list of states stepping up to the plate > in the wake of federal consumer antipathy.

    FTFY

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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