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States propose bills to preserve net neutrality

The next stage in the battle over regulating the internet could take the form of a legal showdown between states and ...

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 2:32 PM
Updated: Jan 6, 2018 2:32 PM

The next stage in the battle over regulating the internet could take the form of a legal showdown between states and the federal government.

A growing number of Democratic state legislators are proposing bills to preserve net neutrality rules within their borders, following the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission's vote to repeal the protections last month.

Lawmakers in states like New York, Washington and Massachusetts have proposed bills in recent weeks to enforce the principles of net neutrality, which are intended to keep the internet open.

This week, California legislators followed suit by proposing two separate bills to establish net neutrality protections.

"We won't let the Trump-led FCC dismantle our right to a free and open internet," Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat representing San Francisco, said in a statement introducing one of the bills. "We won't let them create a system where internet providers can favor web sites and services based on who pays more money."

Related: The end of net neutrality: What it all means

The net neutrality rules, first approved by the FCC in 2015, require internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to treat all online content the same. Providers are barred from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites, and from putting their own content at an advantage over rivals.

The FCC's decision to overturn these protections has been championed by the telecom industry, but widely criticized by technology companies and consumer advocacy groups.

Given the broad disapproval for the repeal, particularly in blue states, lawmakers may find traction with the bills to preserve net neutrality. If successful, however, this local legislation could hit a legal wall.

A spokeswoman for the FCC directed CNNMoney to a section of the final order for net neutrality, in which the FCC asserts authority to prevent states from pursuing laws inconsistent with the net neutrality repeal.

"We conclude that we should exercise our authority to preempt any state or local requirements that are inconsistent with the federal deregulatory approach we adopt today," according to the final order.

In the section, the FCC also stresses that the burden placed on internet service providers by forcing them to "comply with a patchwork of separate and potentially conflicting requirements" across the country.

Jim Speta, a law professor at Northwestern, says U.S. courts have previously upheld the FCC's ability to preempt state regulations concerning the telecommunications market. These rulings "do provide a basis for the FCC's action to preempt state and local net neutrality," he told CNNMoney.

Even before the recent wave of bill proposals, states appeared to be on a collision course with the federal government on this issue.

The attorneys general of several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Minnesota, have announced their intention to sue to challenge the FCC's net neutrality repeal.

More than a dozen attorneys general had previously called for the FCC to delay the vote, citing concerns about fraudulent comments filed with the FCC as part of a public feedback period about the proposed net neutrality rollback.

The states will receive some tech support, too. The Internet Association, a trade group representing internet companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, said Thursday it intended to join the upcoming legal fight to preserve net neutrality.

"Either on the appeal from this order or in a suit directly challenging a state or local law establishing net neutrality," Speta says "I think it a certainty that the courts will be asked to decide the question."

There is still time, however. An FCC official told CNNMoney in December that it could take up to "several months" for the net neutrality repeal to be formally approved by the Office of Management and Budget. Until then, the old rules remain in place.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
Lafayette507393
Lamar496465
Washington4877124
Bolivar4068109
Oktibbeha401681
Panola378380
Pontotoc372155
Monroe3628105
Warren3619101
Union350563
Marshall349569
Neshoba3433152
Pearl River3380104
Leflore3079108
Lincoln300687
Sunflower289272
Hancock285360
Tate276762
Alcorn268854
Pike266580
Itawamba266261
Scott253448
Yazoo250156
Prentiss249552
Tippah245850
Copiah244549
Coahoma243654
Simpson240069
Leake234367
Grenada221171
Marion218473
Covington216972
Adams210170
Wayne206432
Winston205267
George202739
Attala195761
Newton195745
Tishomingo192461
Chickasaw186144
Jasper176038
Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
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