Government agencies in Oregon will be prohibited from contracting with internet providers that don’t uphold net neutrality principles under a new law signed by Gov. Kate Brown Tuesday. The rules take effect January 2019. Oregon is the second state in the nation, after Washington, to pass a net neutrality law.
Both states are defying a December vote by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal net neutrality, a nickname for regulations that require internet providers to treat all lawful traffic the same. Up until the FCC’s repeal, companies like Comcast and Verizon were not allowed to slow down some content or create paid fast lanes for services that rely on the internet.
Oregon’s law is limited in scope in an effort to avoid lawsuits from the FCC, which says that its decisions preempt local governments from creating their own regulations. Rather than banning internet providers that don’t respect net neutrality outright, Oregon is instead flexing its customer muscle, mandating state agencies contract with broadband companies that treat all traffic the same. The law does make some exceptions, including situations where internet access is necessary for public safety and law enforcement.
Washington is not as conservative in its approach. Its first-of-its-kind law requires all internet providers operating in the state to uphold net neutrality standards. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law in March.
The Pacific Northwest is establishing itself as a leader in the resistance against President Donald Trump’s administration. In addition to taking on his FCC, Oregon and Washington lawmakers have been outspoken critics of Trump’s immigration policies and their attorneys general have challenged the Trump administration in court over various issues.
Though Washington and Oregon are the only states to pass their own laws, governors of five other states have issued executive orders requiring internet companies providing services to government agencies to comply with net neutrality standards. Those states are Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont, according to Ars Technica.
USTelecom, an internet lobby whose members include AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink, has vowed to “aggressively challenge” state and municipal attempts to write their own net neutrality laws.