Washington state passes law restoring net neutrality

US telecoms: a model for South Africa to avoid

The law, which will take effect in June, does not allow internet service providers to slow down service to some customers, block lawful sites or organizations or degrade lawful internet traffic.

Setting up a likely legal fight with the Trump administration, Washington has become the first state to enact its own net-neutrality requirements after US regulators repealed Obama-era rules created to keep the internet an even playing field.

"Washington will be the first state in the nation to preserve the open internet", Inslee said Monday.

"It has allowed the free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations of free speech in our history".

The law reinstates the 2015 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [government website] rules protecting net neutrality, which the FCC repealed [JURIST report] the rules in December.

"Internet service providers can not be allowed to substitute their money-motivated judgment on how you spend your time online", said Sarah Bird, CEO of Seattle-based search engine optimization company Moz.

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Other states, including OR, are taking a different approach - requiring that internet companies that do business with state OR local governments abide by the principles of net neutrality.

"This is a ideal example of why you need states' assistance when you've had the federal government walk off the job and go to the donut shop", Inslee said.

According to Wired, there are at least two dozen other states that are considering net neutrality bills. But Washington is the first state to pass rules that ban network discrimination. "This is about preserving a fair and free internet so all Washingtonians can participate equally in the 21st century economy".

As the FCC prohibited state laws from contradicting its decision, opponents of the Washington law have pointed out that it would lead to lawsuits.

Meanwhile, FCC's anti-net neutrality stance is making more tech companies stand up to it and be counted.

"The fight for net neutrality is the fight for civil liberties and a more vibrant culture", Candace Martin, commercial counsel for Kickstarter. And while ISPs like to frame net neutrality as partisan to sow division and prevent meaningful rules, surveys repeatedly indicate the rules had broad bipartisan support.

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