Middle Schoolers Cheer As Oregon Passes A Net Neutrality Law

from the the-people-are-kind-of-pissed dept

More than half of all states are now pushing their own net neutrality rules in the wake of the federal repeal. Some states are pushing for new net neutrality laws that closely mirror the discarded FCC rules, while others are signing executive orders that prohibit states from doing business with ISPs that behave anti-competitively. And while these discordant laws may make doing business from state to state harder on incumbent ISPs, that's probably something they should have thought about before dismantling arguably modest (and hugely popular) federal protections.

This week Oregon became the latest state to sign net neutrality protections into law with what was largely bipartisan support. House Bill 4155 largely mirrors the FCC ban on things like paid-prioritization and anti-competitive blocking and throttling, though (also like the discarded FCC rules) it wouldn't address usage caps and overage fees or zero rating, one of the key areas where anti-competitive behavior often takes root. The bill also carves out numerous exemptions for legitimate instances of prioritization (medical care, prioritized VoIP services).

The bill also mandates that state and local governments contract only with companies that abide by the principles of net neutrality. Again highlighting the popularity of these efforts, three middle school kids testified before the State Senate in support of the new law:

"Leading up to the bill's passage, three students from Mt. Tabor Middle School testified in support of net neutrality in Salem. "It isn't common that kids get very involved in this, and it shows just how important this issue is to us," Luca Larsen-Utsumi, who spoke in front of the House Committee on Rules said."

While these state laws are an organic reaction to the federal government selling out consumers and the health of the internet, they'll only be as good as the people willing to actually enforce them. Many of the laws carve out exceptions for "reasonable network management," language ISP lobbyists have routinely and successfully abused to effectively allow pretty much anything -- at least in states where lawmakers and regulator ethics are malleable via campaign contribution (read: most of them). In other words, passing these rules is only part of the equation.

Granted this is the same state that just got done giving Comcast an inadvertent $15 million annual tax break for doing absolutely nothing, so you have to hope they crossed their t's and dotted their i's on this particular legislation, and remain alert to post-passage lobbying efforts to subvert it.

States like Oregon also have to contend with likely legal challenges by incumbent ISPs and their BFFs at the FCC.

After it was lobbied to do so by Verizon and Comcast, the FCC included language in its net neutrality repeal that attempts to "pre-empt" (read: ban) states from protecting consumers on issues of privacy and net neutrality. But this authority is untested, which could result in some significant and interesting legal battles in the months to come. Again though: this expensive, confusing battle could all have been avoided if the FCC had actually bothered to listen to data, the experts, and the will of the public and kept the FCC rules intact.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 4:12pm

    At least they know the definition of:

    Common law

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