Kevin Grierson, IP Co-Chair for Culhane Meadows and a partner in the firm’s Washington, DC office, was recently interviewed for an article published by Digital Trends regarding state initiatives to save Internet neutrality after the FCC reversed its policies in late 2017. Here are some excerpts from the article–
In late 2017, the FCC voted to reverse net neutrality rules — but those in favor of an open internet aren’t going down without a fight. Opposition has already begun its move against the FCC’s decision, and it’s played out in many different ways.
In mid-January, attorney generals from 21 states and the District of Columbia moved to sue the FCC in an attempt to overturn the December vote.
It probably won’t come as a surprise that Silicon Valley has come out swinging in this fight. In late January, the first of two net neutrality laws in California passed the Senate and moved on to the state Assembly. Should it pass, the bill would enshrine net neutrality into Californian law and twist the arms of ISPs into complying with the principles.
Other states have taken a different approach that may be more effective.
Montana governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, signed an executive order in January that prohibits state agencies from granting contracts to ISPs that do not observe net neutrality. As a result, ISPs that do not treat internet traffic equally will be ineligible to apply for contracts and supply their services to the state. This a roundabout way of enforcing net neutrality without enacting entirely new legislation like in California. The Montana order goes into effect on July 1 and will impact AT&T and Verizon.
In late January, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, signed a similar executive order.
The executive orders in New York and Montana are a wily attempt to avoid federal policy. They place new obligations on state agencies, rather than attempting to regulate the ISPs themselves. The New York order bars doing business with any ISPs that “block, throttle, or prioritize Internet content” or require users to “pay different or higher rates to access specific types of content or applications.”
By restricting what ISPs these agencies can do business with it will, in theory, force the ISPs to comply with net neutrality, or risk losing out on lucrative state contracts.
“That’s a novel approach, and I think it’s got a decent chance of working,” explained Kevin Grierson, a partner at law firm Culhane Meadows, which has offices around the country. The idea is catching on, and proves that the battleground isn’t limited to the populous states like California and New York.
At this point, all we say with any amount of certainty is that the fight for net neutrality is far from over — it’s only just begun.
To view the entire article click HERE.