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Washington state passes net neutrality law

The west coast state is the first to pass its own net neutrality rules, but several other states are also taking on the FCC.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Video: Net Neutrality is gone. Welcome to Biased Net.

Washington on Monday became the first US state to pass its own net neutrality rules. Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that effectively reinstates (at the state level) the President Barack Obama-era rules wiped out by the Federal Communications Commission.

In December, President Donald Trump's FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, successfully led a vote in December to repeal rules that prohibited ISPs from selectively slowing down internet traffic to different sites.

Washington's new law, which should go into effect by June 6, bars ISPs from blocking legal content or applications, throttling traffic, or implementing paid prioritization. It also requires ISPs to disclose information about their network management practices and performance.

"We've seen the power of an open internet," said Inslee during Monday's signing ceremony. "It's allowed the free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations of free speech in history."

Washington, he said, has "led the world in commercial airlines, we've led the world in software, and today we're leading the world in net neutrality."

It's up for debate as to whether states can enforce their own net neutrality laws, but several are trying. At least 25 other states have considered legislating their own net neutrality rules, as Washington has done. Governors in a few other states have already signed executive orders to enforce net neutrality, while some municipalities are also taking action.

Meanwhile, attorneys general from around half the states (including Washington) have sued the FCC, attempting to get nationwide net neutrality rules reinstated. A number of private companies have also challenged the FCC's current stance in court. On Monday, Etsy, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Shutterstock, Automattic, and Expa joined the legal battle.

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