Washington, Hawaii Now Call for Protecting Network Neutrality

Two more states are throwing their support behind network neutrality in defiance of regulators.

The battle to protect the integrity of the Internet in the United States continues. Last December, the FCC headed by Ajit Pai voted to repeal network neutrality. Embedded in the repeal order is rules banning individual states from enacting their own network neutrality laws.

In response, it seems individual states are defying the order and moving ahead with putting in place their own network neutrality rules. This includes California, New York, Montana, and more recently, New Jersey. That brings the total number of states fighting to protect network neutrality to four.

Now, two more states are enacting network neutrality rules. First up is Hawaii whose governor is directing state agencies to agree to contracts with providers who respect the principles of network neutrality. From KHON2:

Gov. David Ige is directing all state government agencies to contract for internet-related services only with providers who contractually agree to abide by net neutrality principals.

He signed an executive order, effective Monday, Feb. 5, as part of his pledge to protect net neutrality in Hawaii.

“An open internet is critically important to our people and our economy, connecting us to the rest of the world, increasing our commerce, fostering innovation, and adding to our economic growth. I have worked with my cabinet members, members of the House, and other stakeholders to protect the integrity of this critical resource,” said Ige.

It seems that the laws being put in place are going further by looking into getting municipal broadband up and running as well:

If it becomes law, House Bill 1995 would regulate broadband internet service providers and establish a task force to examine the costs and benefits of creating a state-owned public utility company to provide broadband internet service.

No doubt major commercial providers won’t be happy to hear that.

Moving over to the state of Washington, it appears similar moves are taking place. From KIRO 7:

In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent repeal of net-neutrality rules, the Washington House on Friday passed a bill meant to ensure the state’s residents don’t see a disruption in internet service.

House Bill 2282 passed on a strong bipartisan 93-5 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration. Under the measure, internet providers are prohibited from blocking content or impairing traffic.

The bill also would require providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

“Net neutrality has worked very well to protect a free and open internet,” said Democratic Rep. Drew Hansen of Bainbridge Island, the bill’s sponsor. “We are going to keep those protections in place in Washington state even after they go away at the national level.”

So, it seems that the total number of states wanting to put in place rules protecting network neutrality has gone up to six at this stage. So, at this stage, a question can be raised over whether or not this is going to help make gutting the rules at the federal level even messier. Indeed, this is looking more and more like there is going to be a showdown between the federal regulators and state lawmakers. Very few seem to know what will happen should this make it to the courts.

One way one can look at this is the fact that even if these efforts don’t work out, people are going on the record as at least being a supporter to network neutrality. Not only are they saying they support the idea, but are also putting their words into action.

It will be interesting to see if more states follow suit in the coming weeks to join in on the support for network neutrality.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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