New Bill Would Preserve Net Neutrality In Massachusetts03:23

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Two Massachusetts lawmakers are fighting to keep net neutrality in the state, coming a week after the FCC repealed that rule.

Online service providers will no long have to treat all websites equally when it comes to things like speed and access to content.

State Sen. Barbara L'Italien and Rep. Andy Vargas co-sponsored a new bill to preserve net neutrality at the state level.

Vargas joined Morning Edition to talk about the bill.

Interview Highlights

On why Vargas moved on the bill so quickly

I think it's a vital issue that is important to not only my generation of millennials but small businesses and consumers alike not only in Haverhill but across the Commonwealth. And so I thought it was important for us to jump on this issue right away. And it's also one of those unique opportunities where we can have bipartisan support.

On how the bill is intended to protect consumers and preserve an open Internet

There's really three buckets involved in this. There's speed, there's pricing, and there's content, and what net neutrality does is ensure that everyone has fair access to those three. Without net neutrality, providers can basically treat the Internet similar to how our TV is treated, where we have to buy certain packages. You can buy the package that includes ESPN or Lifetime or HDTV. Whereas if you have the Internet now, you have the whole Internet. And so, without net neutrality, we can expect a widening of the digital divide as well as unfair access to certain content.

We're hoping to ensure that net neutrality is preserved here in the Commonwealth.

On how they can enforce these rules on Internet providers, who are national companies

So this is a great question and it's one that we're going to be answering in the coming months. We support the attorney general in her lawsuit. But what we do know is that states have pretty broad authority on consumer protection and we have the responsibility to protect consumers in the Commonwealth when we think corporations are being misleading and unfair, and this might be one of those instances.

This article was originally published on December 21, 2017.

This segment aired on December 21, 2017.


Jack Lepiarz Twitter Reporter and Anchor
Jack Lepiarz is a reporter and anchor at WBUR.