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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at an event in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Internet providers will be required to treat all lawful content the same in Washington state under a landmark net neutrality law that just became official.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill enacting statewide net neutrality protections, in direct defiance of the Federal Communications Commission’s December decision to repeal similar regulations governing internet providers across the country.

Washington is the first state in the nation to enact its own net neutrality protections, despite the FCC’s intention to “preempt any state or local measures that would effectively impose rules or requirements that we have repealed.” The FCC included the preemption clause in the repeal published in the Federal Register earlier this month.

“We think we’re on very firm ground,” Inslee told GeekWire. “The state of Washington retains its right to have consumer protection laws. This is, at its heart, a consumer protection law and we are providing a mechanism to protect consumers from illicit behavior in the marketplace.”

Rep. Drew Hansen sponsored Washington’s net neutrality bill. (Photo via HouseDemocrats.WA.Gov.)

Lawmakers in more than 25 states have introduced their own net neutrality legislation but Washington is the first to actually enact regulations.

“We’ve led the world in commercial airlines, we’ve led the world in software, and today we’re leading the world in net neutrality,” Inslee said during the bill signing ceremony Monday.

Next up: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee talks net neutrality, states’ rights and taking on Trump in Q&A with GeekWire

The new law forbids broadband companies in Washington from blocking or slowing lawful internet traffic or selling fast lanes at a premium. Internet providers will also be required to publicly disclose their business practices “sufficient for consumers to make informed choices” under the new law.

The preemption clause in the FCC’s net neutrality repeal means Washington state may face legal challenges to the new law.

The FCC is also preparing for lawsuits over its initial repeal of net neutrality, which triggered Washington state to pass its own legislation. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is planning to sue over the FCC’s decision in coalition with attorneys general from 21 other states and the District of Columbia.

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