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Mass. Senate Passes Net Neutrality Bill

This article is more than 1 year old.

The Massachusetts Senate passed legislation on Thursday intended as a response the Trump administration's rollback last year of federal net neutrality regulations, but it stopped short of a statewide ban on internet providers blocking access to content or throttling the speed at which certain websites load.

The bill, which was crafted by a special committee led by Sen. Cynthia Creem, would create a registry run by the Department of Telecommunications and Cable that would develop a system for grading internet service providers and making easy to understand information available to consumers.

The ISPs that voluntarily comply with state-crafted best practices would be allowed to advertise a Massachusetts seal of approval to potential customers.

While the bill passed the Senate unanimously and proponents celebrated the effort as a critical "first step" to protecting equal access to the internet, Sen. Jamie Eldridge tried to get the Senate to go a step further.

Eldridge proposed an amendment that would prohibit practices like blocking and throttling, but it was defeated over concerns that it could run afoul of the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution that gives precedence to federal law.

The bill has been heavily lobbied this session by the telecommunications companies that insist they do not engage in any of the practices that are causing alarm and wouldn't in the future, but Eldridge and others questioned why they would oppose the bill if they didn't want to maximize their profits by taking advantage of the new rule.

The bill now moves to the House where the issue has been studied by Speaker Robert DeLeo's "Trump Working Group," but has so far not led to action.

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