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Washington State First to Pass Tough Net Neutrality Law

Washington State First to Pass Tough Net Neutrality Law

Washington's new law prohibits ISPs that do business in the state from engaging in anti-competitive throttling and blocking of competing content. It also prohibits ISPs from striking "paid prioritization" deals that would allow one company (say, ESPN) from striking a deal that ensured its content was delivered more efficiently than competitors, distorting the level internet playing field in favor of those with the deepest pockets. Like the FCC's discarded rules, Washington's law carves out exemptions for network management and the prioritization of essential medical or other services.

Verizon and Comcast both successfully lobbied the FCC to include "pre-emption" language attempting to ban states from protecting consumers. But these efforts are legally untested, and the bill's sponsor specifically took some time to laugh in the FCC's general direction.

"Just because the FCC claims it has the power to preempt state laws doesn’t mean that it actually does," said Hansen. "I can claim that I have the power to manifest unicorns on the Washington State Capitol lawn. But if you look outside right now, there are no unicorns."
ISPs hope that the FCC's state pre-emption language holds up in court. They also hope the FCC's repeal withstands the numerous lawsuits headed the FCC's direction. Just in case they lose on both fronts, ISPs like AT&T are pushing for flimsy, phony net neutrality legislation in name only that would pre-empt potentially tougher rules.

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