WASHINGTON — Hawaii and New Jersey are the latest states to decree that all state agencies should only do business with internet service providers agreeing to follow net neutrality principles, joining Montana and New York. Hawaii, New Jersey and New York are among the 23 states where the attorneys general are suing the FCC for repealing net neutrality rules put in place in 2015.
One important question is like the 800 lb gorilla in the room though: do states have the right to create their own Internet policy? Markham Erickson, the telecom attorney representing Incompas , the industry association for competitive communications carriers, said the FCC may have “backed itself into a corner on the states’ rights issue,” according to lightreading.com. While the FCC said individual states couldn’t override federal policy, it also renounced its own authority to impose net neutrality provisions, which would appear to leave the door open for states to impose them if they so choose.
In Congress, Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has introduced a bill banning blocking and throttling of Internet traffic, but leaving in place the possibility for paid prioritization, and maintaining the categorization of ISPs as Title 1 information service providers, which are regulated by the FTC rather than the FCC. Blackburn also calls for continued limitations on the FCC to preempt state net neutrality laws, according to the same article. Representative Mike Coffman (R-Co.) says he will introduce a net neutrality bill that would go further than Blackburn’s proposal: Coffman wants to ensure blocking, throttling and paid prioritization are all illegal, and he wants to create a compromise in how ISPs are regulated that would keep them under FCC oversight, but not subject them to Title II governance.
The FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom Act” will likely get published in the Federal Register in the coming weeks, after which there will be a 60-day period before the order goes into effect. Any lawsuits are likely to take one to two years before they’re granted a decision by a federal court, and the party which disagrees with the outcome will likely take the issue to the Supreme Court.