Net Neutrality

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1) Net Neutrality

The premise that all network traffic is treated the same.* While TAG believes in strong Title II regulations, if those fail, we are open to pursuing laws similar to the Net Neutrality protections that California is working as well as encouraging the City of Arvada to give government contracts only to organizations that adhere to Title II regulations.

*There are Obama era rules that allow for preserving bandwidth explicitly for emergency response and new technologies, like self-driving cars. APA supports this basic exception to equal treatment of network traffic.

Net Neutrality Actions that the APA Technology Group Can Support:  

1. Call for Federal Congressional Action. Congress failed to act to nullify the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality in May 2018. However, congress still could act to restore the rules codified by the 2015 Open Internet Order and upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals twice, if the public can convince them to act. Contact Congress: Use the call tool above to look up your representatives and a short script. Tell them to support overturning the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality.

2. Supporting Challenges to the FCC Repeal in Court. There is another course of action beyond Congress. Public Knowledge has already filed a legal challenge against this decision, and they have a long, successful history of standing up for net neutrality rules and enforcement in court. They are prepared to make a strong case for overturning the FCC’s Order repealing net neutrality rules. We could encourage private donations to their legal fund to help them move forward with their case and provide APA members with ongoing updates through our webpage.

3. Taking State and Local Action. At the state and local levels, APA can take several steps to encourage our representatives to engage on the net neutrality issue. We can encourage and support:

a) Encourage our state attorney general to sue the FCC. Twenty-two states have already signed on to a multi-state lawsuit against the FCC ruling on the grounds of the public comment period being corrupted by 2 million fake comments submitted during the FCC’s public comment period using stolen personal identities. The states that have sued, which do not include Colorado, are: New York, California, Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and DC. APA can call on our state attorney general Cynthia Coffman to join the lawsuit against the FCC ruling or support efforts to elect an attorney general who will take action.

b) States can pass legislation to promote net neutrality. The FCC in its proposal to eliminate net neutrality tried to make states powerless by explicitly including a “federal pre-emption” clause to prevent states from enacting local versions of net neutrality. But many states are not buying into the idea that the FCC is allowed to pre-empt them, which is clear from the flurry of state legislation that has been introduced already. Furthermore, there is already some legal precedent for limiting the authority of the FCC to pre-empt states. In 2015, the FCC tried to pre-empt states from regulating municipally-owned broadband providers and they were struck down in the courts. It is clear that the states are ready and willing to go to the courts for this. The more states involved in net neutrality litigation, the better.
Unfortunately, while several states have ignored the federal pre-emption and are passing legislation to ban ISPs from blocking or throttling content or engaging in paid prioritization, Colorado is not one of the states. Colorado democratic lawmakers made an attempt this session to ensure rural Colorado, where about a quarter of homes still lack basic Internet, would be the first to get a net neutrality guarantee from Internet providers. 

But on the same day a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission repealing Obama-era net neutrality rules mostly took effect, Republicans on the Colorado Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted down a proposed net neutrality bill 3-2. The bill would have attached strings to state money used to build new Internet infrastructure — rather than applying these net neutrality principles to existing service. Over the next six years, about $150 million is expected to be available for telecom providers to connect homes in rural Colorado to the Internet. Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, a lead sponsor on the bill, said the state can control how its money is spent. This is one way for the state to regulate these companies without creating a conflict with federal laws that govern the Internet. APA needs to work with state house and senate leaders, such as Chris Hansen, to reintroduce a net neutrality bill for the state. We also need to work to elect legislators who will support net neutrality

Below are some the actions taken by other states to promote an open internet in their home states without explicitly violating the preemption. These options could also be advanced in Colorado.

States can create a process for ISPs to certify they are net neutral and then give incentives to those that are or withhold state benefits from those that are not.
State governments can refuse to do business with ISPs that are not certified net neutral.
State governments can promote and provide incentives for municipal broadband networks that are net neutral to encourage competition in the broadband marketplace.
We could also support an approach similar to that taken by California State Senator Scott Wiener, which includes provisions to do the following:

·         Regulate business practices to require net neutrality.

·         Condition state contracts on adhering to net neutrality.

·         Require net neutrality as part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for internet infrastructure.

·         Condition the right to attach small cell or other broadband wireless communications to utility poles on adherence to net neutrality.

APA can call our state representatives and ask them to support any legislation that has been introduced and to introduce new legislation! In the case of Colorado, which recently defeated net neutrality legislation, we can work with those who want it to re-introduce it.

c) State governors can promote net neutrality by executive order. Governors can and should condition the purchasing power of state government’s state contracts on net neutrality. Montana’s governor Steve Bullock became the first governor to sign an executive order declaring that the state cannot do business with ISPs that are not net neutral. New York governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, and Hawaii governor David Ige quickly followed suit. Montana Governor Bullock even created a template order for other states and localities to use. APA should encourage our governor and any candidates running for election this November to support and promulgate a similar executive order for Colorado.

d) Municipalities can create local broadband networks that are net neutral. A hyperlocal way to ensure net neutrality is for cities, such as Arvada, to create their own independent internet provider. Being free from the whims of companies such as Verizon and Comcast, localities can ensure that their public internet is net neutral. Unfortunately, 20 states** have posed some barriers to enacting municipal broadband and Colorado is one of them. As a first step to net neutral local broadband we need to pressure our state lawmakers to overturn the roadblocks to municipal broadband.

** Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

This fight is far from over, and we hope that APA can make a long-term commitment to defending an open and accessible internet for all.

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