Washington becomes first state to approve net neutrality rules

06 March 2018

Washington yesterday became the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after US regulators struck down Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or interfering with online traffic.

''We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so,'' AP reported governor Jay Inslee saying before signing the bill supported by both Democrat and Republican lawmakers. ''We know how important this is.''

According to Inslee, the decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was ''a clear case of the Trump administration favoring powerful corporate interests over the interests of millions of Washingtonians and Americans.''

The FCC voted in December to scrap US rules that serve to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. Under the regulations, providers are also barred from favouring some sites and apps over others.

As the FCC prohibited state laws from contradicting its decision, opponents of the Washington law have pointed out that it would lead to lawsuits.

Inslee is confident of the legality of the law. He added that states have full right to protect their citizens.

Meanwhile, FCC's anti-net neutrality stance is making more tech companies stand up to it and be counted.

Internet companies Etsy, Expa, Kickstarter, Automattic, Foursquare, and Shutterstock - all members of a pro-net neutrality group called Coalition for Internet Openness - filed a lawsuit yesterday directly challenging the FCC's decision to roll back net neutrality. The companies join 23 state attorneys general as also a number of public interest groups who have also sued the FCC over the repeal of net neutrality.

The tech companies claim in the latest legal challenge that the FCC's rules will directly harm their interests.

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