Washington became the first state in the country on Monday to pass its own net neutrality law in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of the popular Obama-era rules.
Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill Monday afternoon forbidding internet service providers from blocking or throttling web content, or from charging websites for higher delivery speeds. During a ceremony for the bill signing, he called the legislation a “free speech bill.”
“All Washingtonians should enjoy equal and unfettered access to the educational, social and economic power of the internet,” Inslee said. “I’m proud that Washington state is helping lead the way to preserve these net neutrality rules, which ensure a level playing field for consumers and innovators.”
The move is sure to prompt a court battle. In repealing the net neutrality rules, the FCC included a provision in its order forbidding states from filling the void with their own rules.
The new law also comes after governors in a handful of states have signed executive orders forbidding their agencies from doing business with internet service providers that violate open internet principles.
Inslee said Monday that he’s not concerned about potential challenges to the bill. “We feel very confident of our position,” Inslee said after the signing. “The states have a full right to protect our citizens where the federal government has gone AWOL.” The FCC is facing its own legal challenge from net neutrality supporters. Attorneys general in nearly two dozen states, joined by public interest groups and internet companies, have sued to overturn the repeal.