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January 30, 2018

3 States Take Steps To Block Net Neutrality Rollback

CYBERSPACE—With the repeal of net neutrality rules apparently set to take effect sometime in the spring, three states have already taken steps to make sure that the repeal of the Obama-era regulations—a rollback passed in December on a party-line vote of the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission board—does not affect residents of those states. “Net Neutrality” refers to a set of rules that prevent internet service providers from favoring traffic from certain sources over others, by slowing down traffic from some sites, or even blocking sites altogether. Rolling back net neutrality could clear the way for ISPs to charge additional fees for such services as Facebook, Netflix—or adult sites.  In fact, without net neutrality rules, ISPs could block porn sites altogether, which could be a possibility especially in four states that have already passed laws declaring porn a “public health crisis.” In Montana, the state’s Democratic governor Steve Bullock on Monday announced that he had signed an executive order banning the state from signing contracts with ISPs and telecommunications companies that give preference to sites that pay extra for speedier traffic, a practice known as “paid prioritization.” Montana already has contracts worth $50 million with four major internet access providers, CenturyLink, Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. But Bullock’s order applies only to companies seeking new contracts with Montana starting on July 1 of this year. “This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality. We can’t wait for folks in Washington DC to come to their senses and reinstate these rules,” Bullock said in a prepare statement announcing the order. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, signed a similar executive order last week, preventing ISPs that ignore net neutrality standards from obtaining state contracts. In the country’s most populous state, California, the legislature took the lead in the battle against the FCC’s net neutrality rollback, with the state’s senate passing a law Monday that imposes net neutrality rules on ISPs doing business in the Golden State. The bill passed by a vote of 21-12 with Democrats casting all of the votes in favor. The law, which prohibits ISPs from engaging in "paid prioritization, or providing preferential treatment of some Internet traffic to any Internet customer,” as well as from “throttling” traffic from specific sites, now goes to California’s assembly, where Democrats also have a firm grip, outnumbering Republicans 53-25.

 
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