The Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality gives internet providers the ability to block or slow down internet access to services or websites in certain communities. The practice, sometimes known as throttling, has been happening across the country and some states are beginning to take notice.
Recently, Texas joined other states working to protect internet access by introducing a bill aiming to ban internet throttling in disaster areas.
HB 1426 was introduced by the Texas House of Representatives and joins more than 100 other bills introduced in state legislatures around the country. Texas’ bill doesn’t completely ban providers from restricting internet access, but only specifies disaster areas.
The bill comes after Verizon throttled a fire department’s “unlimited” data during the California wildfires. That case was even submitted as evidence in a lawsuit seeking to reinstate federal net neutrality rules, as reported by Ars Technica.
In this case of the repeal, the FCC does not have the power to punish Verizon for their behavior in any way. This sets a dangerous precedent when it comes to public safety.
“The fact that this is now bubbling up at the state level is a good sign,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future,” told KUT. “But in reality, we need the FCC to actually do its job and ensure that these companies aren’t acting in ways that put the public in danger.”
Arguments around the FCC abandoning its public safety role seem to offer the most potential for reinstating net neutrality. Former FCC Commissioner Gigi Sohn told The Hill, the FCC “abdicated” its public safety role, specifically citing the California wildfires.
The US Court of Appeals for D.C. recently heard arguments from both the FCC and several petitioners arguing the agency’s repeal of net neutrality was unlawful. Public safety concerns became an important point during the meeting, as reported by Vox.
It appears as though the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality is causing consequences throughout the country.