Here Is Why Net Neutrality Is Not Quite Dead

Not surprisingly in these politically polarized times, the bill discussed here is being introduced in Nebraska by a Democratic state senator. Since the repeal of net neutrality by the FCC went against the apparently-polled wishes of a majority of Americans, it might enjoy bi-partisan support. California, a heavily Democratic state which has a Democratic Governor, is a more likely to pass and sustain a net neutrality law.

States like California and a few others don’t need bi-partisan support. They can ram home a bill with just their Democratic majority. The question is whether or not it would be legal. Nebraska, on the other hand, leans Republican, and has a GOP governor who, ostensibly, would veto such a law if it came to his desk. Still, the Democratic legislator there said he is encouraged by the bipartisan support he's received so far.

"I knew I was passionate about it, but I was shocked at the support I received from Republicans, from Democrats and Libertarians."

The proposed law would flat-out ban paid prioritization. That is, favoring some traffic over others. Paid prioritization would be allowed if an ISP could demonstrate that it benefits the public and "would not harm the open nature" of the Internet service.  The bill also states that:

"No Internet service provider engaged in the provision of fixed or mobile broadband Internet access service shall impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, application, or service or use of a non-harmful device, subject to reasonable network management."

The proposed California bill, brought by a Democratic state senator from San Francisco (no surprise there, either), would indirectly enforce the net neutrality rules. It would "Require net neutrality as part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for Internet infrastructure," and "condition the right to attach small cell or other broadband wireless communications to utility poles on adherence to net neutrality."

He would also encourage the state to employ its considerable financial might in awarding contracts and licenses, to ensure that the applicants are adhering to net neutrality principles in their everyday business operations. Given the Democrat's penchant to oppose anything smelling of Republican taint, lawmakers in these “blue” (Democratic) states are going to be falling all over themselves to be first in line on the anti-Trump, anti-FCC, legislative net neutrality parade.

So it is to be expected that another Democratic lawmaker from the Los Angeles area would go to even greater lengths to upstage his upstate colleague. His bill takes a more direct approach, by taking dead aim at banning blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.

Other states - Washington and New York,  for example - are also considering pro-net neutrality legislation. It is widely thought that threatening the ISPs bottom-line by dangling contract approvals over their heads in the heavily Democratic coastal states will be most effective. The reason being that it is the user in middle-America who might be most adversely affected by things such as favored traffic lanes, and would bear a potentially higher cost for potentially inferior service.

For now, however, net neutrality, while it may be on life support, is not dead yet. Let’s see if the trickle of support emanating from typically “blue” states becomes a stream, and then a river. Stay tuned.

Views are writer's own.

Image credit: By By Ivan Marc/Shuterstock.

Written by: Stan Ward

Stan Ward has enjoyed writing for 50 years. Writing has been a comfortable companion to a successful business and teaching career for him.


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