Even if Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai ends net neutrality nationwide as we know it, states are determined to preserve the free internet.
Nebraska became the first Republican-controlled state to introduce legislation upholding net neutrality rules, The Hill reported Monday. California, Washington state, New York and Massachusetts have also considered statewide rules around net neutrality. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has said he will lead a coalition of attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to preserve the rules.
Net neutrality requires internet providers to allow equal access to content across the internet, regardless of where it comes from. With net neutrality repealed, internet providers could become more like cable companies and charge more to access social media sites, slow down websites they disagree with or make any number of changes unfriendly to the consumer. The FCC repealed rules governing net neutrality in December under the leadership of Pai, a strong opponent of the rules.
States’ attempts to save the free and open internet are arriving as members of Congress are trying to do the same.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) became the 30th senator to cosponsor a Senate net neutrality bill on Monday, which means it will go up for a vote in the full Senate. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the net neutrality bill.
“We’ve reached the magic number of 30 to secure a vote on the Senate floor, and that number will only continue to climb,” Markey said in a statement. “Republicans are faced with a choice — be on the right side of history and stand with the American people who support a free and open internet, or hold hands with the special interests who want to control the internet for their own profit.”
Although the Senate bill will go up to a vote, that doesn’t mean the Senate will be able to reverse the FCC’s decision. The bill would have to pass and then be signed by President Donald Trump, which is unlikely to happen.
There’s chilling news for states trying to uphold the rules, too. The FCC could claim that its federal rules supersede their regulations, thus rendering any state laws ineffective.