One of the many problems with a federal agency suddenly deciding to repeal policy is that it leaves state governments in a weird position. They can choose to take one of multiple different routes in response.
After the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality protections last year, it threw states into this exact chaos. Many states chose not to act (mostly, but not all, Republican ones). Others decided to move towards one or more legislative actions, including passing a bill on all ISPs to re-establish net neutrality within the state.
Image: Xavier Lalanne-Tauzia /Motherboard
Options range from suing the FCC, to voting on an official resolution, to passing actual statewide laws, and any state government might be pursuing multiple courses of action at any given time. To further complicate things, each action could be at a different level of progress, from simply being introduced, to lingering in committee, to actually being passed.
All of this can make it difficult for Americans—and private telecom companies—to keep track of the patchwork of laws that are being considered or have already come into effect. So Motherboard has gathered the most up-to-date rundown of each state’s approach to help you keep informed on the lay of the land. Initial data was supplied by Jaime Petenko, a senior associate fellow at the Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown, who has been tracking the various state-level responses to the repeal.
What options do states have?
- Do nothing: this is pretty self-explanatory, and a popular choice
- Pass a resolution: basically a formal plea from the state government urging either Congress and/or the FCC to reconsider the decision
- Sue the FCC: a lawsuit filed by 22 state attorneys general, which is currently being pursued
- Have the Governor sign an executive order: this option is a shortcut to establishing requirements that might otherwise be passed through state legislature, as in options 5 and 6
- Pass a bill on state contracts: this kind of bill would enforce net neutrality on any ISP that has, or wants, a contract with the state
- Pass a bill on all ISPs: this, the most comprehensive approach, would establish a law requiring all ISPs in the state to abide by net neutrality principles, including not throttling or prioritizing content
In our map, we’ve focused solely on option 6, for simplicity’s sake. You can see which states are pursuing this option, and where the legislation currently sits. But even in the states where that option isn’t being pursued, others have been. Executive orders have been signed in five states, eight have proposed official resolutions, and 28 in total are pursuing one or more bills.
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