Washington Becomes First State To Sign Net Neutrality Bill Into Law

"It’s pleasing to be the first Governor in the United States to sign a bill like this."

Back in December, the current administration repealed a set of net neutrality rules put in place in 2015 that mandated Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. At the time, these rules and regulations provided equal and fair access to the Internet and forbid ISPs from intentionally blocking, slowing down or charging money for specific websites and online content, but now no such safeguards exist.

In an effort to once again regulate the Internet in a fair and equitable way, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed a law on March 5 that prevents ISPs from blocking and slowing down content online. According to the New York Times, the legislation is expected to go into effect on June 6, and effectively restores the 2015 federal rules by preventing ISPs from blocking websites or charging more for faster delivery of certain sites in a way that benefits the broadband company and partner websites.

The publication also notes that Washington's net neutrality law, which is the first of its kind at the state level, passed with broad bipartisan support in the Washington legislature.

"We know how important this is. We've seen the power of the open Internet," Gov. Inslee said at the bill signing, per the video clip above. "It allows a student in Washington to connect to researchers all around the world, or a small business to compete with large businesses in the global marketplace. It's allowed the free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations in free speech in history, and what's at stake couldn't be more important."

"It's pleasing to be the first Governor in the United States to sign a bill like this," Inslee later added. "We've led the world in commercial airlines, we've led the world in software, and today we're leading the world in net neutrality. That's a great place for the state of Washington."

As noted by the New York Times, the law Inslee signed yesterday is one of many similar pieces of legislation across the country. In fact, lawmakers in some two dozen states have introduced bills similar to Washington's, while numerous governors, including those that serve in New York and Montana, have signed executive actions that prevent ISPs with state contracts from blocking or slowing data. Additionally, multiple lawsuits against the F.C.C. have been filed.

Though the New York Times suggests that the F.C.C. will likely fight the Washington law and others like it in court, Governor Inslee stands behind his legislation. "At the core of our action today is consumer protection," he said in an interview, according to the publication. "States need to act because, under the Trump administration, we have seen citizens, including seven million in Washington, stripped of core protections like the open internet."

As it turns out, many Washingtonians (and others) are pleased Inslee took action. Check out some of their reactions below:

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