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Washington Governor Signs Legally Dubious Net Neutrality Bill

The FCC's December order repealing net neutrality preempted sates from reimposing regulations.

Wellesenterprises/Dreamstime.comWellesenterprises/Dreamstime.comWashington has become the first state in the nation to pass a net neutrality bill.

On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 2282, which prohibits internet service providers from blocking lawful content, impairing internet traffic on the basis of content, or engaging in paid prioritization—that is, letting customers pay for faster network speeds.

"All Washingtonians should enjoy equal and unfettered access to the educational, social and economic power of the internet," Inslee said in a statement posted on Medium. "I'm proud that Washington state is helping lead the way to preserve these net neutrality rules, which ensure a level playing field for consumers and innovators."

The bill garnered bipartisan support in the state legislature, passing 95–5 in the House and 35–14 in the Senate.

But the law is on shaky legal footing. When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed Obama-era net neutrality rules in December, the order specifically preempted state or local efforts to reenact the rules.

The sponsor of Washington's bill, Rep. Drew Hansen (D–Bainbridge Island), rejects this premise.

"The FCC is declaring that a certain set of federal statutory provisions do not give it the authority to regulate standards of conduct on the internet," he told Reason in December. "Yet somehow, as if by magic, that same statute gives them the authority to preempt state attempts to regulate standards of conduct on the internet. I'm not sure how that can coexist."

The FCC's order contends—and a number of federal court cases confirm—that "an affirmative federal policy of deregulation is entitled to the same preemptive effect as a federal policy of regulation."

Internet service providers are likely to challenge the law in court.

The New York Times reports that some two dozen other states have similar net neutrality provisions in the works. Taking a more solid legal approach are the governors of New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Montana, who all have issued executive orders requiring internet service providers contracting with the state to follow the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

Photo Credit: Wellesenterprises/Dreamstime.com

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  • Cy||

    I'm sad to see my birthplace sliding so quickly into proggy dystopia. Apparently they're talking about instituting income taxes in Seattle and the state.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    The problem is the small-souled bugmen in King County. The earthquake that's due for that area can't come soon enough.

  • generalisimo14||

    The sponsor was from Bainbridge Island, which is a 25 minute ferry ride west from downtown Seattle. While technically part of Kitsap County, it has always been somewhat condescending of the more provincial Kitsap county and has allied with King County and the Seattle Metro area culturally and economically. Perhaps they are still miffed from the episode when residents from Port Orchard arrived in Port Gamble with a gunboat to take the county seat elsewhere. Or perhaps they are simply wealthy liberals who know better than others how to ration internet access. Too bad they don't teach economics at Evergreen College right! A friend of mine actually got a degree from Evergreen in "post colonial hip hop culture" for partying with DJs in Leon for a year.

  • Microaggressor||

    Economics is too counterrevolutionary of a subject.

  • sarcasmic||

    or engaging in paid prioritization—that is, letting customers pay for faster network speeds.

    One size fits all. Or else.

  • Rhywun||

    Great news, citizens. The intenet ration has been raised to 28 baud!

  • Thrackmoor||

    LET THE PORN FLOW!!!

  • Microaggressor||

    "Nobody asked me to put a stop to infrastructure development, but fuck you, elections have consequences" - Inslee

  • mtrueman||

    "One size fits all."

    Works in South Korea. What's this animus towards net neutrality? Folks here bitch and moan about Facebook, Google etc filtering the information they receive, and now you want to get the ISPs in on the act, too? I thought Libertarians would support fewer filters on the flow of information, not more.

  • Ride 'Em||

    Isn't it the same government types who are asking FB, etc. to put into place those exact same filters that they want to outlaw? Or is it okay to to just filter certain things.

  • mtrueman||

    "Isn't it the same government types who are asking FB, etc. to put into place those exact same filters that they want to outlaw?"

    I'm not sure. My point is that the editors, writers and commenters here have nothing good to say about Google filtering the information on the internet, but want to add another layer of filtering, getting ISPs into the act. I just don't see the attraction of others doing all this filtering of information.

  • Rhywun||

    I remember being fuzzy on what "net neutrality" was all about. Now that all the progs have lined up in support of it, it's becoming clearer.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Just remember that net neutrality is just like socialism- a race to the bottom. Everyone gets the same speed for the same price no matter what market indicators say.

    Like deodorant, everyone gets Bernie Sanders brand: Stalin brand- It only stinks while the bodies of the dissenters rot.

  • mtrueman||

    " it's becoming clearer."

    Do tell, no need to be coy.

  • mtrueman||

    "I remember being fuzzy on what "net neutrality" was all about"

    Why is adding a whole new layer of ISPs filtering the information you receive over the internet a solution to anything? I think you are still fuzzy on the issue.

  • albo||

    One state can't regulate interstate commerce. This is as unconstitutional as f*ck.

  • Rhywun||

    BEST UNCONSTITUTIONAL F*CK EVAH!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Gov. Inslee doesn't care.

  • Cy||

    But they are allowing states to apply sales tax over internet transactions. I wonder if this would be considered the same grey area.

  • Consigliere of the Dark Ones||

    They can until the courts stop them.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Just what the internet needed... government control! It's worked so well in China and North Korea.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    If the ISPs had any balls they would just walk away from all of these states. 0 bps is a neutral number. The voters made their beds, let them lie in them.

  • ||

    The ISPs I don't exactly disagree with as the region is the market. Your choice is continue serving the customers you serve or go to another region where the regulatory hoopla could be just as obnoxious and your competition is more entrenched. However, shit like this makes me (more consistently) underwhelmed with Google, Facebook, and even Apple in this regard. The more I think about it the more they should be telling the Fedgov "Free speech, so fuck off bitches." at every turn and threatening to move their headquarters to Ireland, Maritius, or Luxembourg at the drop of a hat.

  • Brandybuck||

    Google, et al, love this shit. Net Neutrality isn't about the little guy versus the corporation, it's about the content corporations versus the access corporations. Net Neutrality means that the content corporations don't have to pay the access corporations for the hogging the access bandwidth.

  • ||

    Google, et al, love this shit.

    My point was that it's even beyond that. I don't disagree that they like Net Neutrality but as an aside, they love complying with utter bullshit like the Russia investigation. They will actively undermine the freedoms they accommodate in the American market if they think it looks good on the world market and buys them access to the Chinese market.

  • mtrueman||

    "I don't disagree that they like Net Neutrality but as an aside, they love complying with utter bullshit like the Russia investigation."

    If we're lucky, the ISPs will come to the rescue and filter out any of this Russian stuff.

  • ThomasD||

    " it's about the content corporations versus the access corporations."

    Exactly. Content providers do not want their 'customers' to know what they are actually paying in order to see all those bandwidth chewing advertisements along with whatever it is they actually want to see.

    Free riders want to keep riding. If it means socializing the cost of internet, so be it.

  • chemjeff||

    I think it can be reasonably argued that "regulation of the Internet", however noxious of a phrase that might be, does genuinely concern interstate commerce and is therefore an issue for the feds.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Disagree. It's an issue for no government. It's such a radical concept that if any government wants to regulate it, they should seek to amend their own constitution to allow for it. Guess what, the process is hard for a reason.

  • chemjeff||

    Well yes. That is ideal.

  • Sevo||

    "I think it can be reasonably argued that "regulation of the Internet", however noxious of a phrase that might be, does genuinely concern interstate commerce and is therefore an issue for the feds."

    We know you would. We know you are a lefty and favor government involvement everywhere and always.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Uh oh. Looks like a certain state has not heard about federal preemption and the Supremacy Clause.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    It wouldn't break my heart if ATF stormtroopers came for Inslee I'm a show of force.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    or engaging in paid prioritization—that is, letting customers pay for faster network speeds.

    So Comcast, Verizon and the others can now only offer one level of Internet access?

    No more $25/mo. for 1up/10 down, $40 for 5/25, or $75 for 10/100? And what about Business Class? Seems that wouldn't be allowed at all.

  • damikesc||

    Better...they can charge the highest rate for the slowest speed.

  • damikesc||

    Ah, so Dems hate regs when they dont do what they want

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    And Republicans hate federalism when states don't do what they want.

    And the world keeps spinning.

  • damikesc||

    Less so. A large part of the irritation of CA ignoring immigration law is that AZ was raked over the coals for enforcing immigration law in 2009. Either a state has to abide by federal policies or it does not. Consistency is not too much to ask for.

  • chemjeff||

    But it is consistent: Only the feds have the authority to enforce immigration law. States can't do the feds' job for them (AZ), and states can't be coerced to do the feds' job for them (CA).

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Then I wonder why states and even worse cities, are not following immigration law?

    Then some states want to enforce federal law (ObamaCare) on people who don't want insurance?

    Its not federalism. Its politics.

  • chemjeff||

    "Then I wonder why states and even worse cities, are not following immigration law?"

    I repeat: it's the fed's job to enforce immigration law. States and cities are not compelled to do the feds' job for them.

    ObamaCare is not a law enforcement matter.

    Of COURSE there is a political motivation for all they do. But their dubious motives do not alter the correctness of the principle.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Aw Jeff, you are usually dishonest about discussions but you really stepped it up today.

    Immigration law states that people cannot aid and abet illegals breaking the law and that is exactly what some states and cities are doing.

    ObamaCare was a law enforcement matter. If you didn't pay the fine for not having "acceptable" health insurance, the government can kill you to enforce that payment.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Aw, shucks, Jeff.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Among Chem.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I almost forgot about certain states suing the federal government over federal taxation when that purview is federal government's.

    Maybe its not politics.... yeah right.

  • ThomasD||

    "Only the feds have the authority to enforce immigration law."

    So you agree that what CA did was an unlawful interference then?

  • Consigliere of the Dark Ones||

    Ah, so Dems hate regs when they dont do what they want

    That is what it is known in Democratic circles as "deregulation".

  • ||

    More importantly, now that a Statist has seized control of the reigns of power in Washington State, it behooves me to seriously question the libertarians; Which is the more libertarian solution, pre-empt regional regulation with Federal mandate or allow regional markets or smaller municipalities to impose penalties on Washington-based internet providers that are taking advantage of a (more) captive/command market?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "Now" that a statist??!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This is still even a thing?

  • Brandybuck||

    ""..prohibits internet service providers from blocking lawful content, impairing internet traffic on the basis of content, or engaging in paid prioritization—that is, letting customers pay for faster network speeds.""

    What about charging people for the bandwidth they use? That's the real problem.

    People pay to get faster speeds all the time. No one outside of Washington (either one) cares about that. Dialup is $15 a month, DSl is $50 and cable is $70. And a a few more dollars for a "business" plan. The problem is that internet provision follows the smorgasbord model of pricing. One price to gain access, actual usage is free. That $70 per months lets you stream all the HBO tittie porn you can yank off to, meanwhile gramma pays the same just to read her email.

    Internet providers have resisted charging end users by usage. Net Neutrality is going to come back and bite these whiny assholes in the butt, since there's nothing stopping ISP from charging their customers for the bytes they consume. These whiny socialists think the government is sticking it to the big corporations, but instead of letting the huge content providers subsidize the end user, now the end user is going to pay the real up front costs.

  • damikesc||

    Yeah. Or they will continue to whine about how slow our speeds are and the like.

    I don't see a good guy here. I don't like Comcast. But I don't think Google needs fucking government protection from paying for what they use either.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Google needs protection from better internet browsers that don't conspire with government to infringe on people's privacy.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    The good guy is the market, of which Comcast and Google are a part. The bad guy is government on any level trying to regulate the internet, or provide handouts to either Google or Comcast.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So wait, Washington's flag is just a picture of George Washington? That makes Maryland's brain-scarring abomination look like a masterpiece in comparison.

  • John||

    The Maryland flag kicks ass. It is one of the few good things about the state.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Virginia's flag is better. In addition to a libertarian as fuck motto, it has a titty on it.

  • John||

    No flag can beat the power of having a half naked chick. The Virginia flag rules pretty much all others.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    AZ's got the most densely symbolic flag, so fuck y'all.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Does it have a titty, though? I thought not. Up yours, Arizona!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "I just need one" -D'versity

    Can I see one titty?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Man that's one huge dildo she's holding!

  • Consigliere of the Dark Ones||

    Maryland's flag is just Lord Baltimore's coat of arms.

  • John||

    The most important part of the commerce clause is not the part that the courts have used to read all limitations on the federal government out of the document. It is the negative commerce clause that says states can't pull shit like this and that there is a common national market. It would be nice if the courts would bother enforcing something that is actually in the constitution rather than just enforcing the shit they make up.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You are expecting people who make rules to know somethings about history?

    A lot of this goes back to the ferry boat wars between states in the 18th Century. Same shit different business.

    The protections states should be focusing on, they don't. Its all coliseums and bread handouts for blue states these days. For red states too, just different games and types of bread.

  • BYODB||


    "The FCC is declaring that a certain set of federal statutory provisions do not give it the authority to regulate standards of conduct on the internet," he told Reason in December. "Yet somehow, as if by magic, that same statute gives them the authority to preempt state attempts to regulate standards of conduct on the internet. I'm not sure how that can coexist."


    Weird, it's like this Government clown wasn't paying attention for the better part of a decade...

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    "All Washingtonians should enjoy equal and unfettered access to the educational, social and economic power of the internet,"

    And I suspect they'll get it. Good. And. Hard.

  • Brandybuck||

    Utopia will not come about until all citizens are equally miserable.

  • TW||

    "The FCC is declaring that a certain set of federal statutory provisions do not give it the authority to regulate standards of conduct on the internet," he told Reason in December. "Yet somehow, as if by magic, that same statute gives them the authority to preempt state attempts to regulate standards of conduct on the internet. I'm not sure how that can coexist."

    The FCC's order contends—and a number of federal court cases confirm—that "an affirmative federal policy of deregulation is entitled to the same preemptive effect as a federal policy of regulation."


    I haven't read the order (it's 210 pages) but from this snippet it looks like there is a dispute over whether what the FCC did in its order constitutes an "affirmative federal policy of deregulation." If the FCC repealed the rules it enacted in a previous order establishing net neutrality because it didn't have the statutory authority to enact them in the first place (as a lot of opponents of net neutrality have contended), it seems to me that that's not quite the same thing as having the legal authority to regulate but deliberately deciding not to.

  • Jay Dubya||

    Good point

  • Jay Dubya||

    So is configuring QoS on a router illegal in Washington now? Are hosting companies considered telcos? If I own a datacenter in Florida & I have a customer in Oregon using a VPN in my facility to visit a website hosted in Washington am I liable? The entire internet unsure business is based on the idea that making network services faster is valuable. The notion that web speeds should be socialized, that the website hosted off of someone's 20 yo computer in their garage has some forgiven right to run as fast as a site w CDN, loadbalancing, redundancy, etc is just baffling to me.
    Net neutrality at the Federal is a foolish, destructive solution for a problem that doesn't exist. Enacting this garbage on a state by state basis makes it worse. Given the impossibility of keeping internet service within the bounds of a single state I hope that this law is quickly challenged & annihilated.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Hackers should stage constant brute force attacks on the governor's office, and the devices used by Inslee and his staff.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I encourage Jeff Sessions to send the FBI in to arrest Inslee, Ferguson, amd his entire administration. If he grants me deputy powers I will be glad to assist, free of charge. I'll even bring my own truncheon for the perp walk

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