States Seek to Replicate Obama-Era Rules

State regulation and related litigation is already well underway. Well over half of the states have introduced some version of net neutrality rules. Thirty-four states had bills or resolutions introduced in their 2018 legislative sessions and 29 had bills or resolutions introduced in their 2019 sessions. Some states have regulations proposed and some have already passed laws or regulations. These rules and proposals have varying degrees of similarity to the Obama-era FCC net neutrality regulations. Some are arguably more restrictive, some less, and others are designed to mirror as closely as possible the Obama-era regulations.

California’s act, the Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act , prohibits broadband providers from blocking or slowing any lawful traffic, participating in paid prioritization, getting paid for zero-rating, selectively zero-rating content in a given category, preventing users from using their own devices and hiding details regarding network management practices, performance or commercial terms. Oregon prohibited public entities from contracting with any broadband providers that engaged in any paid prioritization, blocking content or discrimination. Vermont also required broadband providers to certify that they comply with consumer protection and net neutrality standards to get any state contracts. Similarly, the governors of Montana, New York, Hawaii, New Jersey and Rhode Island have all issued executive orders requiring broadband providers contracting with any of their state agencies to comply with net neutrality rules. Washington state’s law, which was the first neutrality law passed in 2018, requires providers to disclose information regarding network management practices, performance characteristics and terms of services to consumers. It also prohibited blocking and slowing traffic or paid prioritization. Washington made any violations of its net neutrality law actionable and enforceable as violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. Other states have also passed or proposed laws that restrict how broadband carriers disclose information about subscribers, including browsing history.

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