Washington State Is Now the Only Place in America with Net Neutrality

The state law only went into effect once the federal rules were officially repealed on Monday.

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Jun 11 2018, 12:00pm

Gov. Jay Inslee signs net neutrality protections into law Monday, March 5, 2018 in Olympia. Image: Legislative Support Services

It’s the dawn of a new era in America, one without any net neutrality protections—unless you happen to live in Washington state.

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of federal net neutrality protections officially went into effect. The end of those rules triggered a new state law in Washington that was passed in March, but would only go into effect once the federal rules changed. The Washington law prohibits telecom providers from blocking content or devices, throttling traffic, or participating in paid prioritization.

“It’s obviously incredible,” said Democratic Washington state Representative Drew Hansen, who originally introduced the bill, in a phone interview. “We passed net neutrality with overwhelming bipartisan support, proving that it’s really not that hard for elected officials to listen to their real bosses: the people. I just wish congress would do the same.”

Other states, such as California, New York, and Illinois, have made significant progress towards passing state-level net neutrality protections, but so far only Washington and Oregon—which has a law that won’t go into effect until next year—have signed them into law.

There are other states with some protections in place, but they aren’t as broad as Washington’s. The governors of multiple states, including New York, Montana, and Vermont, have issued executive orders imposing net neutrality requirements. But these orders only apply to ISPs that have contracts with the state, and don’t cover all customers.

Another tactic some state lawmakers have been trying is to sue the FCC. More than 20 states have filed lawsuits, hoping to legally reverse the FCC’s decision and restore net neutrality nationwide, rather than creating a patchwork of protection state-by-state.

At the federal level, the Senate passed a resolution in May to overturn the FCC’s decision and restore net neutrality. That resolution is now being considered in the House, where Democrat members are hoping to force a vote.

In the meantime, I hear Seattle is nice this time of year.

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