Illinois lawmakers are in the process of creating their own set of net neutrality standards similar to the ones rolled back by the Trump Administration.
State Rep. Ann Williams’ bill that awaits a House vote after being approved by the House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, & IT Committee wouldn’t regulate an internet service provider, or ISP, in the way that net neutrality did. Instead, it will hold state contracts with those companies contingent on whether they abide by the now-rolled back Obama-era requirements that treat their service similar to public utilities.
In committee, Williams, D-Chicago, said companies don’t currently throttle their service or engage in other anti-consumer practices, but she says this would force them not to in the future if they wanted state business.
“There’s no action if you maintain the status quo,” she said. “We can and frequently do hold companies to that higher standard.”
Thirty-three other states have considered similar laws.
Republican lawmakers questioned the effort to subvert President Donald Trump’s FCC, saying the rule changes in 2017 specifically prohibit states from implementing their own rules for ISPs.
“This is making more regulation that doesn’t adhere to any other state’s regulations and will become complicated and cumbersome for everybody,” said Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, who also owns an IT firm.
Industry representatives warned that any attempt by the state to regulate the internet would be challenged in court.
“Attempts by individual states to pass disparate legislation would result in a patchwork of possibly inconsistent state laws that would be virtually impossible to implement,” said Randy Nehrt, president of the Illinois Telecommunications Association, adding that an ISP would be hurting its customer base by reducing bandwidth on popular products.
Twenty-two attorneys general, including Lisa Madigan, have sued to reinstate net neutrality.
The bill also would require ISPs to disclose their practices on their website. Any breach of the potential law would allow the attorney general to go after the company in an Illinois circuit court.