In a vote last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to kill net neutrality and unmuzzle internet service providers to do whatever they want. The vote means the end of federal protections for a free and open internet, but luckily, some states are stepping up to the plate.
New York State Assemblyman Patricia Fahy has drafted a bill that will force state and local government to only do business with internet service providers that adhere to the principles of net neutrality. It will prevent any ISP that wants a government contract from blocking content, providing paid prioritization, or doing anything that breaches the concept of a “common carrier.”
“If you are going to be a contractor and want to work with New York, then you must meet the principles,” Fahy told Fast Company. “There’s a decent amount of precedent for saying, if you want a state contract, you have to meet such and such requirements.”
The FCC has already “pre-empted” any state governments from forcing all ISPs to adhere to net neutrality. But in theory, there should be nothing preventing New York State from making life incredibly difficult for ISPs, including not giving them lucrative government contracts, or restricting access to public land for running wires or pylons — at least as much as the law allows.
Local bills focused on net neutrality will undoubtedly be challenged in courts by the ISPs. But forcing local governments to cooperate with ISPs that violate net neutrality will be a long and expensive process, no matter which way the verdicts go.