On February 20th I was honored to have the opportunity to testify before the Washington State Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee about the importance of net neutrality to the consumers of Seattle. I made the point that net neutrality was essential to achieving the digital equity and inclusion goals of the City of Seattle. Loss of net neutrality protections, I argued, would adversely affect lower income residents and business owners who cannot afford to pay higher rates simply to access certain sites, content, or services.
You can watch the full testimony here.
I was overjoyed when, 2 weeks later, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2282 to protect net neutrality rules at the state level and ensure that internet providers cannot manipulate internet speeds and access to content. The Washington Open Internet Law law was the first of its kind in the nation. The law will prohibit companies that offer internet services from blocking legal content and applications; it will prohibit them from throttling internet traffic; and it will prohibit them from prioritizing certain traffic in exchange for payment (“paid prioritization”). The law also requires internet providers to disclose to their customers information about network management practices, performance, and terms. The law goes into effect on June 6th.
At the national level. the US Senate is moving to a vote later this month that could block the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. Today – Wednesday, May 9th – marks the start of a national “Red Alert” campaign on net neutrality. Many popular web sites will be displaying information designed to raise awareness and urge elected officials to vote to overturn the FCC’s decision. You can read more the Red Alert at https://www.battleforthenet.com and find out how to contact your elected officials about this upcoming vote.
Given that this week is also Digital Inclusion Week, it is especially important to remember that the loss of net neutrality is most detrimental to those who are already underserved by technology. Net neutrality is a critical component in ensuring that the most vulnerable populations have access to the information and services they need to fully participate in their community and in civic life. Here in Seattle, our commitment to digital inclusion via our Digital Equity Initiative and our commitment to preserving net neutrality go hand-in-hand. Help us by speaking up and by contacting your elected officials in DC about this important issue.