AG Ferguson, Gov. Inslee statement on appeals court decision on net neutrality; Court vacates FCC order preempting state laws

OLYMPIA — On Tuesday, October 1, 2019 Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee issued the following joint statement on the ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia regarding the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to rescind net neutrality and vacate the FCC’s order preempting state open internet laws:

“Today’s ruling says that the FCC does not have blanket authority to stop states like Washington from passing open internet laws to protect consumers. Washingtonians will continue to have access to a fair, free and open internet, thanks to our first-in-the-nation open internet access law. This is an important victory for our state.”

Washington’s Open Internet Access law

In March 2018, Gov. Inslee signed the Washington Open Internet Access law, making Washington the first state to pass legislation protecting consumers’ access to a free and open internet. The legislation passed with strong bipartisan support. Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, and Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, introduced the legislation, which Gov. Inslee and Attorney General Ferguson supported.

The law prohibits paid prioritization, “throttling” or prioritizing internet traffic based on content, and bars internet providers from blocking certain content. Violations of the state law are enforceable under the state Consumer Protection Act.

Case background

In December of 2017, the FCC voted to rescind Obama-era rules that prevented internet service providers from treating websites differently based on their content. The FCC order also prevented states from enacting laws to protect their consumers from harmful actions taken by internet service providers.

In January 2018, Ferguson joined 22 other attorneys general in filing a petition to appeal the FCC decision to rescind net neutrality rules.

Assistant Attorney General Tiffany Lee of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division led the case for Washington.

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