Washington State Sets Net Neutrality Showdown As Governor Signs Law

It's the first state to pass net neutrality legislation, setting up a clash with the Federal Communications Commission.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has signed a law safeguarding net neutrality in the state, ensuring a likely showdown with the Federal Communications Commission, which ordered the open-internet provisions to end in April.

The law, signed Monday and effective on June 6, will prohibit internet service providers from blocking legal content, applications, services or non-harmful devices. It will also prevent them from impairing internet traffic.

“Washington will be the first state in the nation to preserve the open internet,” Inslee said Monday. “We’ve seen the power of an open internet. It allows a student in Washington to connect with researchers all around the world — or a small business to compete in the global marketplace. It’s allowed the free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations of free speech in our history.”

The FCC scrapped the Obama-era rules in December, saying its decision heralded “the light-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the internet to develop and thrive for nearly two decades.”

A total of 22 states sued the FCC in response, and Montana and a few others issued executive orders that would reinstate net neutrality. Six tech companies also announced plans to sue the FCC on Monday.

“This is not a partisan issue,” said state Rep. Norma Smith, a Republican who backed the new state law. “This is about preserving a fair and free internet so all Washingtonians can participate equally in the 21st century economy. Net neutrality is an issue of tremendous importance that will matter today, tomorrow and generations from now.”

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