States Rush To Protect Net Neutrality On Heels Of Court Ruling

from the round-and-round-we-go dept

Despite the obvious fraud and false data used to prop up the move, a court recently backed much of the Ajit Pai's repeal of net neutrality. But it wasn't all champagne and roses for Ajit Pai and his friends in the telecom sector. The court also shot down the FCC's attempt to ban states from protecting net neutrality themselves, pointing out that when the FCC obliterated its Title II authority over broadband providers (at lobbyist behest) it also eliminated any potential right to tell states what they can or can't do.

As such, states are rolling forward with exploring new rules and finally enforcing existing ones. More than two dozen states have examined some form of net neutrality protections in the wake of the repeal. Most notable are California and Washington State. California has been sued by the DOJ (not coincidentally run by former Verizon lawyer Bill Barr) for trying to protect consumers, an effort complicated by this court ruling. Washington wasn't sued, and is moving full speed ahead when it comes to implementing the rules:

"Broadband users in Washington State can file net neutrality complaints against ISPs using this general consumer complaint form, a spokesperson for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told Ars. The AG's office said it wouldn't comment on whether there are any pending net neutrality investigations. The text of the Washington law is available on the state's website here. Violations of the law are punishable under Washington's Consumer Protection Act."

We've noted a few times how folks crowing about how net neutrality must not have mattered because the internet didn't explode are only advertising their own ignorance. For one, the repeal did much more than just kill net neutrality. It effectively gutted the FCC's authority over telecom giants, shoveling any remaining responsibility to an FTC that lacks the authority or resources to stand up to giants like AT&T and Comcast (that was the entire point of the gambit).

As such, crowing that the internet didn't implode ignores how a void in federal oversight will make a wide variety of non-net-neutrality related issues (high prices, sneaky fees, misleading coverage maps, anti-competitive behavior) worse. Some otherwise bright folks remain under the false impression that eliminating telecom oversight magically results in connectivity Utopia. But when the FCC abdicates its authority over natural monopolies like Comcast and AT&T, existing problems simply get worse. There are decades of data (and endless customer satisfaction surveys) making this point.

Most ISPs (with some notable exceptions) have been hesitant to start screwing users and competitors for fear of running afoul of state laws. And as more states (like Minnesota) contemplate tougher rules to fill the void, that's going to continue. Industry lobbyists love to complain about the "fractured regulatory obligations" they now face, but that was a product of their own creation when they decided to spend millions to kill fairly modest (by international standards) consumer protections. The telecom industry made this mess, and now it gets to stew in it until either Congress or the FCC restores federal guidelines.

That's why, just as we're seeing on the privacy front, the big industry push moving forward will be to express phony support for a federal net neutrality law their lawyers will write. A law they pretend is a "solution" to the problem but contains so many loopholes as to be effectively worthless. Its only real purpose? To pre-empt tougher federal or state guidelines.

Filed Under: california, fcc, net neutrality, oversight, states, washington


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 6:40am

    Which Federal Agency will be co-opted next?

    "That's why, just as we're seeing on the privacy front, the big industry push moving forward will be to express phony support for a federal net neutrality law their lawyers will write. A law they pretend is a "solution" to the problem but contains so many loopholes as to be effectively worthless. Its only real purpose? To pre-empt tougher federal or state guidelines."

    They can write as many laws as they like. Since they coerced the FCC to give up its authority to oversee the Telecom/Broadband industry, whom are they going to get to enforce it? As pointed out in the article, and many times before, the FTC doesn't have the authority or resources to do much of anything.

    Of course it would be quite amusing to watch the FCC try to claw back its authority. How much crow can Ajit Pai eat?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2019 @ 7:24am

      Re: Which Federal Agency will be co-opted next?

      Of course it would be quite amusing to watch the FCC try to claw back its authority.

      The FCC wont have to claw back authority, it will be granted new and very limited authority by the bill that gets written, probably an ability to wag a finger at anybody breaking the new laws.

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

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 17 Oct 2019 @ 1:52pm

      Re: Which Federal Agency will be co-opted next?

      Four and twenty Ajits, baked in Crow Pai.

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 7:39am

    As such, crowing that the internet didn't implode ignores how a void in federal oversight will make a wide variety of non-net-neutrality related issues (high prices, sneaky fees, misleading coverage maps, anti-competitive behavior) worse.

    Not only has AT$T decided that its victims should pay its property taxes as a below-the-line fee, but also decided to charge victims for taxes it never had to pay.

    And you can be certain that if this Republican administration hadn't strangled all consumer protections, they'd be pulling a "Net Neutrality Compliance" fee out of their... hat.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2019 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      In the UK if an ISP increases prices during your contracted term you have the right to cancel without charge (same for mobile phone providers).

      Of course I doubt your government will never enact such sensible consumer protection laws.

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

      • identicon
        hegemon13, 17 Oct 2019 @ 8:27am

        Re: Re:

        We do have similar laws...except they only apply to the base plan cost. Increases to the taxes and fees don't allow you to cancel, even when the fees are completely bogus.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 18 Oct 2019 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re:

        In the UK if an ISP increases prices during your contracted term you have the right to cancel without charge (same for mobile phone providers).

        That doesn't do much good when there are one or two broadband providers in your market, often only one of which is any good, and both are pulling this kind of thing.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2019 @ 8:07am

    Crowing that the death of net neutrality didn't kill the Internet is akin to claiming that the human race is still alive so Martin Shkreli should be allowed to overprice medicine outside of the average man's affordability.

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

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 8:11am

    Cue the Fox News chorus line of 'states rights' republicans talking heads decrying states exercising the right to create net neutrality laws.

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

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 17 Oct 2019 @ 10:45am

    Not necessarily a cause for celebration...

    It's significantly cheaper to lobby a state legislator or regulator than a federal one. Remember how Marsha Blackburn started her career in Tennessee? She was a telecom industry shill at the state level before we'd even heard of Ajit Pai. And so Tennessee has some of the least neutral/competition-friendly telecom regulations in the country.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 10:47am

    reasoning..

    I wonder why States can make laws to regulate things, but Federal is better...
    Is it because State laws end at the border? Probably..
    A corp can do business anywhere, but reside in another state, as well as have services in other states that Dont have those regulations or laws.. Like the Calif. Car and pollution restrictions..that have been around along time.

    But where do you go, when you take them to court, and which laws/regs to you uphold??

    THATS where the federal gov comes in. As State laws change and arnt Always the same...
    But the State laws come first.

    One suggestion Iv seen in use int he past, Which the states can use..Is to Install it THEMSELVES...then force the Corps to pay for access to that service.

    Does anyone know..
    Do the corps pay for access to the backbone??
    For Phone/cellphone/internet/sat/wireless Services that they sell?? I would really love to see that contract, and HOW OLD it is.
    And what stipulations are involved.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 12:44pm

    Still waiting...

    ...for the California gold standard net-neutrality policy, long passed and signed, to actually kick in once Barr's DoJ has stopped suing us.

    And waiting...

    and waiting...

    and waiting...

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.