The majority of Americans were against the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality rules, and now that protections no longer exist at the federal level, states are working to craft their own legislation to ensure telecommunications companies cannot take advantage of the new internet landscape.
“We all agree that in an ideal world it should be handled at the federal level,” says California state senator Scott Wiener. “But if the federal government’s going to abdicate, then we need to take action, and I’m glad that a number of states are looking at this.”
Along with California, Washington and New York are also looking provide protection at the state level, though it will be difficult in light of the preemptive clause in the FCC's new rules.
In its lengthy order abolishing net neutrality policy, the FCC asserted the federal government’s right to preempt other laws or policies. “Allowing state and local governments to adopt their own separate requirements, which could impose far greater burdens than the federal regulatory regime, could significantly disrupt the balance we strike here,” reads the FCC’s abolition order.
“Telecommunications in particular—it’s very, very hairy to try to do this without triggering federal preemption,” says Jake Egloff, the legislative aide to New York Democratic assemblymember Patricia Fahy. They have also crafted legislation establishing net neutrality requirements. Rather than regulate ISPs directly, it would exert financial pressure by only allowing the state and local governments to contract with ISPs certified as meeting New York’s net neutrality requirements.