Washington passed its own net neutrality protections Tuesday, the first state to do so in a direct rebuke to the other Washington.
A bill that reinstates protections repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December passed both houses of Washington state’s legislature Tuesday afternoon. It now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed.
The bill forbids broadband companies from blocking or slowing lawful internet traffic or selling fast lanes at a premium. It also requires broadband companies to publicly disclose their business practices “sufficient for consumers to make informed choices.”
Lawmakers in more than 25 states have introduced their own net neutrality legislation but Washington is the first to pass its bill in both chambers of the legislature.
“This is one of those bills where we get to stand up and say states matter,” said Washington Sen. Kevin Ranker during Tuesday’s vote. “States can truly make a difference. We can truly represent the core values of our constituents.”
In December, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality in favor of a “light-touch” regulatory structure.
The FCC adopted net neutrality regulations in 2015 in an effort to ensure internet service providers wouldn’t prioritize some online content over others. The regulations codified existing standards that were the status quo before net neutrality had a catchy name.
Washington state’s net neutrality law is likely to face legal challenges. The FCC’s official repeal of net neutrality, which was published in the Federal Register last week, preempts states and local jurisdictions from passing de facto net neutrality laws. The FCC said it would “preempt any state or local measures that would effectively impose rules or requirements that we have repealed or decided to refrain from imposing in this order.” That includes laws that would require disclosure of business practices from internet providers, like the one moving through the Washington state legislature.”
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is also preparing a legal challenge to the FCC’s decision, as part of a coalition with attorneys general from 21 other states and the District of Columbia.
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