Since the unprecedented repeal of Net Neutrality regulations, many states have continued the fight on their own.
One of the biggest and most controversial moves the Trump administration has made since inauguration has been the repealing of the Obama era Net Neutrality rules. FCC Chair Ajit Pai helped spearhead the charge against the short lived regulation, repealing it in a short time. The issue has Americans divided. Though, the most outspoken side, in favor of the rules, went into an uproar after the figurative dust settled.
Since then, many states have begun to move to implement net neutrality on their own. Activist group Fight for the Future is reported to be involved in active efforts across thirty-five states, including D.C. On top of that, five state governors signed executive orders to preserve the rules of net neutrality. That included Montana, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, and Vermont. This would bar state agencies from doing business with providers who do not promise to uphold net neutrality principles.
California has proposed bill SB-822 this week that is considered to be “the most comprehensive effort in the nation” as per The Verge. Scott Weiner, a Democratic Party California state senator, representing District 11, introduced a bill on Wednesday that is said to be more strict than the Obama era rules for ISPs. As the bill states, “This bill would require the PUC, in consultation with the Energy Commission, the ISO, and electrical corporations, to evaluate the role broadband Internet access and tools will play in the future operation of the state’s smart grid.”
Is the internet a public utility?
The bill addresses the concept of zero rating. The FCC claimed authority to regulate the practice on a case-by-case basis, but never took formal action against it. This would mean that providers would no longer be able to exempt their own services from data caps. On one hand, it claims to be beneficial to the consumer, allowing them to use more data. On the other hand, critics claim that it lets providers pick winners and losers on the internet. Net neutrality diametrically opposes to this idea. The Obama era FCC was investigating companies such as AT&T and Verizon, who exempt their Go90 service from data caps, who, then-FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, warned the companies that the practice was “likely anti-competitive.” Republican FCC Chair, Ajit Pai, under Trump’s administration ended agency investigation into the companies.
In the state of Washington, Governor Jay Inslee, has also recently signed Substitute House Bill 2822, which passed on February 9th. The bill bans broadband providers from blocking or throttling content or accepting money to prioritize certain sites or services.
With moves like California’s involvement of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), this action begs one of the great questions of the internet age: Is the internet a public utility? Many Americans seem to agree that it is, but does a majority consensus on an idea make it right? Others have reacted with more hostility to Net Neutrality, likening it to “internet communism”. They claim that such legislation would be damaging to the internet. They also disagree about the internet being a public utility.
Is your state moving to implement their own net neutrality? Is the internet a public utility? Sound off in the comments below. Want more of Boozed & Bothered on the issue? Listen to Episode 3: The Nets of Neutrality.