In response to the FCC’s repeal of nationwide net neutrality rules, many states were quick to enact their own protections. State attorneys general have filed lawsuits to restore these protections, state legislatures have introduced net neutrality bills, and governors have issued executive orders to force ISP compliance with net neutrality. Additionally, state action shows that there is widespread support for net neutrality across the country, and that state politicians understand that the public will hold those in power accountable at the ballot box.
Washington, Oregon, and Vermont have passed net neutrality style legislation, requiring that ISP’s protect consumers either under existing consumer protection provisions or through state contracting requirements. Additionally, governors in New Jersey, New York, Montana, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont have issued executive orders requiring that ISP’s protect net neutrality or face exclusion from lucrative public contracts. Some also require ISPs to publicly disclose network performance characteristics, like true connection speeds and lag times, and network practices – like paid prioritization – thereby allowing consumers to make informed choices about service providers.
California is also currently working on comprehensive net neutrality legislation, aimed for passage before the end of the current session. When the bill was gutted of most protections in a committee, public pressure and committed representatives successfully fought for their restoration. The current version represents a gold standard for state level net neutrality legislation with strong protections ensuring the citizens can access information, make their voices heard, and participate fully in American democracy. In August, the California legislature passed its net neutrality bill and sent it to the Governor’s desk where it awaits signature.