Mass. Bill would bring back regulation in the broadband industry



Should Internet Service Providers be given the ability to block, limit, or engage in premium tiering of Internet service provision? According to a Massachusetts lawmaker, the answer is “no,” which prompted the proposal for a new invoice to solve the problem.

“It was really a reaction to the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] reversal under the Trump administration which removed some of the net neutrality provisions put in place under the Obama administration, ”said Senator James Eldridge.

In December 2017, the Restoring Internet Freedom Order was approved by a 3-2 FCC vote, resulting in legal protections for content discrimination, paid prioritization and the influence of internet traffic in the end, opening the door for internet providers to operate freely without recourse .

For many state level invoices were proposed to counter the decision.

A new Massachusetts bill seeks to combat the ruling by preventing Internet service providers from blocking lawful content, apps, services, or traffic.

The bill also seeks to prevent providers from giving money or favors to edge providers to provide or transport end-user Internet traffic; block content or services from edge providers; engage in a paying hierarchy; or affecting the ability of users to access the broadband services of their choice.

Massachusetts is relying on the Internet to develop industry and education, Eldridge said. However, it is possible to improve the connection of the state as a whole.

“Eastern Massachusetts is pretty good in terms of access,” Eldrige said. “But in the poorest communities across the state, there are challenges with the digital divide of the poorest families who don’t have access to it. “

As a short-term solution, school districts in disadvantaged areas provided hot spots for students to do homework at home.

However, even efforts like these are not enough to help the western part of the state, which has little or no internet access.

“There are significant connection issues further west,” Eldridge said. “There is neither broadband nor internet. As a virtually working lawmaker, my colleagues in western Massachusetts have to call Zoom meetings because the lack of the internet does not allow video. “

To address these issues, the bill seeks to do the following: establish a process for broadband companies to demonstrate that they will not engage in discriminatory Internet practices; limit state benefits to broadband companies; restrict the applicability of post fixing rules broadband companies; examine state benefits such as easements and taxes; and allow the attorney general to initiate fines and civil lawsuits against companies that violate the rules.

“This is interesting because, in an in-person hearing over the past two sessions, lobbyists for internet service providers like Verizon and AT&T have testified against the bill, claiming they are not blocking internet service. or do not charge higher prices for better access. to websites, ”Eldrige said.

“Why would they oppose these regulations to define this?” ” he added.

To take a closer look at the bill and how it will ensure a free and open Internet in the Commonwealth, Government technology contacted the Executive Office of State Security and Technology Services.

However, the office declined an interview on the pending legislation, saying that “the Baker-Polito administration does not comment on the pending legislation and will review any legislation that reaches Governor Baker’s office.”

Katya Maruri is a writer for Government Technology. She holds a BA in Journalism and an MA in Global Strategic Communications from Florida International University, and over five years of experience in the print and digital information industry.

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