Washington defies FCC by enacting its own net neutrality law

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(Image: © Flickr via Free Press)

In the wake of the FCC voting 3-2 in favor of dismantling net neutrality rules that were implemented under the Obama administration, several states have drawn up bills to enforce similar regulations at the state level. Washington is one of them, and it just became the first state to pass its own net neutrality law.

Democratic Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill (House Bill 2282) this morning, and in doing so he has set the stage for a legal battle with the FCC. That's because the FCC sought to prevent this sort of thing by including language in its net neutrality repeal that prohibits states from issuing their own rules.

According to Wired, there are at least two dozen other states that are considering net neutrality bills. Several of them are attempting to sidestep a legal tussle with the FCC by instead banning state agencies from inking agreements with ISPs that do not promise to abide by net neutrality rules. Other states, such as California and Washington, have cast a much wider net with bills designed to effectively restore several net neutrality regulations for ISPs serving state agencies, businesses, and consumers alike.

"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 new law prohibits broadband providers from blocking or throttling legal content, and from offering paid prioritization of traffic, otherwise known as internet fast lanes.

Washington's bill garnered bipartisan support—it passed with a vote of 93-5 in the state House, and 35-14 in the Senate.

"This is not a partisan issue," said Norma Smith, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill. "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."

Washington's net neutrality law goes into effect on June 6. On the federal level, net neutrality rules are set to expire on April 23.