Washington Governor Jay Inslee Takes Correct Approach To GOP Vote To Kill Net Neutrality
December 14, 2017
Chronicle news & opinion
From left, Andrew Sullivan of Sub Pop Records, Moz.com CEO Sarah Bird, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Gov. Jay Inslee and others at press conference on Washington's actions to protect net neutrality. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(OLYMPIA, WA.) -- Three cheers for Washington's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and other state officials on a proactive move to preserve an open Internet in this state and to protect Washington consumers from internet companies that don't believe in transparency about their costs or services.
All other states should follow our state's lead on this issue.
Wednesday, on the eve of an expected bone-headed and ill-advised vote by Billionaire Donald Trump's captive and very corporate Federal Communications Commission to roll back crucial net neutrality rules, Gov. Inslee joined Attorney General Bob Ferguson, legislators, and business leaders to announce state plans to blunt that corporate greed grab at your expense.
“All Americans, as a matter of principle, should enjoy equal access to the educational, social and economic power of the internet. Ensuring this important technology remains free and unfettered is critical both to our personal freedoms and to our country’s economy,” Inslee wrote in a letter to the FCC earlier this month.
Inslee and others know that a GOP arrow in the heart of net neutrality is a big step to undermine a very core purpose and function of the Internet: an equal footing economic and social arena where even the smallest businesses in this country can have an equal shot at a global marketplace.
State officials here wisely realize that while the FCC’s vote will preempt states from ensuring full net neutrality, "there are a number of steps that can be taken at the state level to promote an open internet and strengthen protections for consumers," said Inslee's office in a statement this week.
In that letter to the FCC Inslee stated that, "All internet service providers (ISPs) should honor and uphold the open foundation of the internet by adhering to certain principles, including: free flow of information over the internet; no blocking of lawful websites; no unreasonable discrimination of lawful network traffic; no paid prioritization; and clear commitment to transparency."
Inslee’s proposal, which makes Washington state the first in the nation to act on net neutrality, includes pursuing the following actions:
Hold companies to their commitments not to block websites, throttle speeds, or impose prioritization pricing
· Direct the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to establish a process for ISPs to certify that they will not engage in practices inconsistent with net neutrality principles.
· Limit state-conferred benefits to ISPs that have made such certifications.
· Limit applicability of UTC pole attachment rules to ISPs that are net neutral.
· Review other state-conferred benefits such as easements and taxes.
Leverage the state’s power as a large purchaser of ISP and telecommunications services
· Use the state government’s role as a big customer, and our ability to establish state master contracts used by local governments, to incentivize Washington companies to adhere to net neutrality principles.
· Pursue regulatory and legislative action to award contracts to vendors that meet net neutral business requirements.
· Lead the exploration of a multi-state purchasing cooperative to procure internet service from providers that adhere to net neutrality principles.
Hold companies accountable for warranties made to consumers
· Create a state-wide internet speed test. This will allow Washingtonians to test their own broadband speed at home, and submit the test to help appropriate state agencies determine what internet speeds consumers are receiving and where companies may be blocking or throttling.
· Collaborate with legislators to strengthen our consumer protection laws to include the principles of net neutrality.
Encourage new entrants into the currently concentrated ISP market
· Pursue legislation authorizing public utility districts and rural and urban port districts to provide retail ISP and telecommunications services.
· Prohibit government-owned ISP services, such as municipal broadband networks, from engaging in blocking, throttling, or priority pricing for Internet services.