In December, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to overturn Obama-era rules that kept internet service providers from blocking content, slowing access or charging extra for certain content. Those are known as net neutrality rules, and their overturn has caused consternation among those who fear it will benefit corporations as opposed to consumers.
Challenges to the decision, which is to take effect this spring, have been filed by attorneys general in 22 states, including Connecticut. Now Connecticut is considering taking further action. That action is in the form of proposed legislation that would keep internet service providers from doing the things net neutrality prevented – blocking sites, charging more, slowing speeds. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is also being urged to join a handful of governors in requring that net neutrality provisions be included in state contracts with providers.
As reported recently by the Associated Press, there are those in favor of Connecticut taking action, and those who feel the state should stay out of what is considered a federal issue.
Those in favor include Gigi Sohn, former counselor to an FCC chairman: “When the federal government fails to protect consumers, it’s up to the states to do so.”
Those against include state Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, who represents North Haven and a part of Wallingford, who thinks Connecticut “should just stay out of it.” Fasano said there was an “internet explosion” of companies entering the market before net neutrality rules took effect in 2015.
Whether individual states can actually do anything is also a question. A former Federal Trade Commission chairman, Jon Leibowitz, says federal law trumps state and local regulation.
That may be, but states have rights, and voicing displeasure and taking action to back it up, even if that action proves futile, is not wasted effort.
“The federal government’s efforts to repeal net neutrality rules are damaging to everyone who values access to a free and open internet,” said Malloy.
That’s what’s at stake, a free and open internet. Connecticut should do what it can to deliver that message.