Another move in a long line of maneuvers to protect net neutrality at the state level was smashed down when a Virginia bill that would have prevented internet service providers from prioritizing or blocking web content was killed by a state House subcommittee Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports that the House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee voted 5-0 with one abstention to strike down H.B. 705.
Democratic Del. Lee Carter introduced the bill, saying that the state should maintain the principle of net neutrality despite the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal those rules.
“The internet, since its inception, has been run by agreement as content-neutral,” Carter said. “In 2015 the federal government set in place regulation to codify what was already being done, and those were overturned in December.”
The chair of the subcommittee, Del. Greg Habeeb, disagreed. He argued that the bill would lead to broadband providers pulling out of the state.
“We are so desperate in parts of the area that I represent to get broadband that any barrier to entry in that market that we impose is a risk to prevent them from coming,” Habeeb said. “I can’t imagine supporting a bill that may lead to a broadband provider not considering entering the Craig County market, for example.”
We all know that’s bullshit, and Carter called it out right away.
“If the broadband providers are willing to forgo 8.5 million customers because they can’t impose additional charges on services rather than offering all-inclusive packages,” Carter said, “that would greatly surprise me.”
Of course, ISPs like T-Mobile (for shame! My cellular provider) and Verizon Wireless, as well as the Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, all opposed the bill. The president of VCTA said that passing the measure would actually cost consumers more money.
If you live in Virginia, I highly recommend that you reach out to these lawmakers and let your voice be heard—doubly so if you live in their districts.
There is no reason, outside of wanting to protect the interests of telecom and broadband companies, to be against net neutrality. It creates an even playing field for us all. It is a vital part of the way we get and share information.
It is tangentially tied to our First Amendment rights.
Protect the open internet at all costs.