December 20, 2017

Mass. Dems introduce net neutrality bill

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Sen. Barbara L'Italien and Tep. Andy Vargas filed a bill that reimposes net neutrality rules in Massachusetts.

Two Merrimack Valley Democrats have introduced a bill that would prevent broadband providers from tiering access to the internet after federal regulators voted last week to lift the Obama-era protections on net neutrality.

Sen. Barbara L'Italien, an Andover Democrat running for Congress, and newly sworn-in state Rep. Andy Vargas of Haverhill filed a bill that reimposes net neutrality rules in Massachusetts. It's Vargas' first piece of legislation.

"A free and open internet is the foundation of communication in our modern society," L'Italien said. "Net neutrality has paved the way for people to share ideas, educate themselves, and make a living. A free flow of information and opportunity for small businesses are two of the ideals this country was founded on. The recent FCC rollback blocks free speech and access to opportunity."

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 last week to lift rules that prevented internet providers from offering consumers different internet speeds or access to certain websites for a higher price, for instance.

The L'Italien-Vargas bill would ban broadband providers from "blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization" of lawful internet content, and empower the attorney general to enforce business cooperation with the new rules.

Other states, including Washington, are exploring the possibility of imposing net neutrality rules at the state level.

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