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The Rundown

States Want Their Own Net Neutrality Laws to Bypass the FCC's Internet Rollbacks

The fight for net neutrality has become a people-powered movement in states across the country to ensure protections for internet consumers.

by Impact Staff
Feb 6 2018, 4:45pm

Photo by Credo Action via Wikimedia Commons

Despite activist and celebrity-endorsed protests, demonstrations held online and in real life, and bipartisan support for keeping the policy in place, last year the Federal Communications Commission’s Republican Chairman, and former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai announced the agency’s plans to rollback net neutrality regulations. This Obama-era policy required internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all web traffic the same without blocking, throttling or giving paid priority to certain content. But the fight to protect the freedom of the open internet is far from over.

In response to the FCC’s decision, some cities and states are taking action by creating local net neutrality laws. In Maryland, an activist group called Solidarity Maryland have a rally planned tentatively for February 21 to save net neutrality in their state. According to the detail on their event page, organizers are waiting to see the bill to have a better idea what they would be supporting.

On the event’s Facebook page, organizers wrote that both houses in the Maryland state legislature introduced net neutrality protection bills in January, and the organization created a petition for Maryland voters to urge local leaders to pass a statewide net neutrality law.

In November, The Verge reported that the FCC intends to block any local or state regulations that buck the federal repeal of net neutrality. The government agency claimed it had the authority to enforce their policy because the internet is an intrastate service. Regardless of the FCC’s ruling, states are moving full steam ahead to protect local internet users in their jurisdictions.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, along with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, legislators and business leaders, announced state plans to ensure net neutrality. The announcement came at a press conference one day prior to the FCC’s widely unpopular three-to-two vote. More recently, California, New York and Rhode Island have begun drafting legislation to enforce net neutrality at the state level.

In addition to state-led legislative initiatives, the battle to restore the net neutrality policies will take place in the courtroom. On January 16, the AP reported that Maryland is included in the now 21 states and District of Columbia in a multi-state lawsuit against the FCC repeal. The legal charge is being led by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

What you can do:

In January, Senate Democrats reached the required number of senators to cosponsor a bill to get a net neutrality vote on the floor. Although the bill in the Senate has a support from both sides of the aisle, only one republican— Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)— is a cosponsor for the bill.

If you believe that the internet should remain accessible for all instead of having slow lanes or fast lanes based on paid prioritization, contact your elected official and tell them to support the congressional effort to reinstate net neutrality.

Also, state attorney generals are leading the judicial effort to restore net neutrality regulations. So far, 21 states are fighting the FCC’s repeal in courts, if your state isn’t one of them call your attorney general and demand that they take action.

And then some:

Digital rights activist group Fight for the Future has a campaign to use the 2018 midterms as leverage against elected officials who don’t support net neutrality.

They’re asking for internet users all over America to get politicians who vote against net neutrality out of office by casting a ballot for their opponent this November.