Minnesota lawmakers in St. Paul and Washington say they’re fighting to retain internet neutrality regulations that federal regulators moved to abolish last year.
State Rep. Paul Thissen and state Sen. Ron Latz announced Thursday that they were sponsoring bills that would require companies that do business in Minnesota to comply with “commonsense net neutrality principles.”
“Every day we inch closer to restricting consumers from having free and fair access to the internet,” said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. “The FCC has ruled in favor of special interests in the telecommunications industry, but that does not mean Minnesota will concede without a fight.”
Their bill improves protections for consumers, combats fraud and increases competitiveness, the lawmakers said in a statement.
“Allowing corporations to decide what we can access online sets a dangerous precedent and is contrary to the values we hold as Minnesotans,” said Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park.
Similar legislation was approved last year by the Minnesota Senate but did not become law.
In December, the Federal Communication Commission voted to end rules that prohibited internet providers from blocking, slowing or prioritizing some customers over others. Attorneys general from across the U.S. have sued to block the changes.
In Washington, Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith also announced Thursday they were part of a bipartisan effort to reinstate the net neutrality rules. Legislation introduced in December is one vote shy of passing the Senate, the lawmakers said.
“Net neutrality is the bedrock of a fair, fast, and open internet,” Klobuchar said.
Smith added that the senators had no choice but to fight the changes.
“Net neutrality is woven into the fabric of our internet, and it’s a reason why we’ve seen innovation that’s benefited businesses, consumers, students, and anyone who uses the internet in Minnesota and across the country,” Smith said.