OLYMPIA – Legislators have protected a free and open internet in the state of Washington with bipartisan legislation now headed to the governor’s desk. On a 35-14 vote, the state Senate passed House Bill 2282 today, which safeguards net neutrality. It passed the House on a 93-5 vote earlier this month.
“Today’s vote guarantees the net neutrality rules that have protected a free and open internet will continue to remain in place in Washington state,” said Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, the bill’s prime sponsor. “Net neutrality is important to everyone – our constituents, small business owners, teachers, entrepreneurs, everyone. This is a cause with overwhelming bipartisan support; it’s always nice to see something where Democrats and Republicans can work together to maintain common-sense consumer protections.”
Hansen worked on the bill together with Republican Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton.
The legislation prohibits Internet Service Providers (ISPs) within the state from:
- Blocking customers’ access to lawful content
- “Throttling,” or slowing down lawful content
- Favoring certain content over others due to “paid prioritization”
These protections were guaranteed for years at the federal level, but in December the Federal Communications Commission announced it would rescind them. At a press conference with Governor Jay Inslee, Hansen announced the introduction of his bill as a way to maintain those protections using the state’s consumer protection authority.
Sarah Bird, CEO of Seattle-based search engine optimization company Moz, hailed today’s passage of SHB 2282.
“Today, Washington took a stand for internet freedoms and preserving an equal playing field for consumers and entrepreneurs. As more of our economic opportunities such as education, healthcare, banking, job functions, media viewing, and relationships thrive online, the more important it is to preserve consumer choice. Internet Service Providers cannot be allowed to substitute their money-motivated judgment on how you spend your time online for yours. Our internet economy is the envy of the world; Washington lawmakers are helping make sure that remains true,” Bird said.
Speaking in favor of the bill during public testimony this month was Tom Mara, executive director at KEXP, a non-profit radio station and arts organization.
“With an end to net neutrality as enforced by the FCC, Internet Service Providers could be allowed to slow down content from independent media organizations who have no affiliation with these large corporations. Consumers could see their online music choices narrow drastically, with mass media, corporate-owned music becoming much easier and cheaper to consume than independent music. SHB 2282 will prevent ISPs from narrowing choices for internet consumers in Washington state and ensure a level playing field for independent artists and non-profit media serving the local audience,” Mara testified before the Senate Energy, Environment & Technology committee on February 20.
The governor is expected to sign the measure into law.