Net Neutrality Signed into Law

Governor Inslee signed a bill Monday that supporters say will help protect a free and open internet in Washington state.  Dan Frizzell from the  Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

HANSEN: “Net neutrality are the rules that protect you against your internet service provider deciding what lawful content you view over the internet, how fast or slow it downloads, and how much you have to pay for different kinds of content.” 

That’s Representative Drew Hansen, the Bainbridge Island Democrat who sponsored legislation this year to save net neutrality in Washington state in the wake of the Trump administration deciding to kill it. Monday afternoon in Olympia, Governor Jay Inslee signed Hansen’s net neutrality bill into law. We caught up with Hansen as he was heading from the House chamber to Inslee’s office to take part in the signing and asked

HANSEN: “The good news is, net neutrality rules exist nationwide.  So when they go away nationwide, Washington state will just keep the status quo.  What happens in other states I’m not sure.” 

We should learn the answer to that question soon; the federal repeal of net neutrality rules takes effect April 23.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.


Washington becomes first state to pass net neutrality protections into law

At the state level, bill essentially reinstates rules the Federal Communications Commission rolled back earlier this year

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

Three months after state leaders vowed to safeguard net neutrality despite rollbacks by the Federal Communications Commission, Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill to protect an open internet in Washington.

With his signature, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law to protect net neutrality.

In 2015, the FCC created rules against blocking legal content, throttling traffic and using paid prioritization for some traffic. The FCC reversed these net neutrality rules earlier this year.

Washington’s new law, House Bill 2282, protects those net neutrality rules at the state level, ensuring that internet providers cannot advantageously manipulate internet speeds and access to content.

“Today we make history: Washington will be the first state in the nation to preserve the open internet,” Inslee said during today’s bill signing ceremony. “We’ve seen the power of an open internet. It allows a student in Washington to connect with researchers all around the world?—?or a small business to compete in the global marketplace. It’s allowed the free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations of free speech in our history.”

The law will prohibit companies that offer internet services from blocking legal content, applications, services or non-harmful devices. It will prohibit them from impairing?—?or throttling?—?internet traffic based on the content internet users consume, or the apps, services and devices they use. And it will prohibit them from favoring certain traffic for the company’s own benefit, a practice referred to as paid prioritization.

The new law will also require internet provider companies to disclose certain service information about network management practices, performance and terms to their consumers.

Proponents of the measure say it is a small business issue as well as a consumer rights issue. The bill creates a fair playing field in the industry, allowing new businesses to get off the ground without the potential threat of unfair practices by established companies.

Sarah Bird, CEO of Seattle-based search engine optimization company Moz, hailed the bill’s passage.

“As more of our economic opportunities such as education, health care, banking, job functions, media viewing and relationships thrive online, the more important it is to preserve consumer choice,” Bird said. “Internet service providers cannot be allowed to substitute their money-motivated judgment on how you spend your time online. Our internet economy is the envy of the world; Washington lawmakers are helping make sure that remains true.”

Passing the law was the result of quick action by a bipartisan group of elected officials in Washington, including Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Reps. Drew Hansen and Norma Smith, and Sens. Reuven Carlyle and Kevin Ranker.

“Net neutrality is important to everyone?—?our constituents, small business owners, teachers, entrepreneurs, everyone,” Hansen said. “This is a cause with overwhelming bipartisan support. It’s always nice to see something where Democrats and Republicans can work together to maintain common-sense consumer protections.”

“This is not a partisan issue,” Smith added. “This is about preserving a fair and free internet so all Washingtonians can participate equally in the 21st century economy. Net neutrality is an issue of tremendous importance that will matter today, tomorrow and generations from now.”

The state’s net neutrality law will take effect by June 6.

Watch video from the December press conference on protecting net neutrality in Washington: