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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Senator Duff Testifies in Support of His Bill to Protect Net Neutrality

HARTFORD, CT – Today, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) testified in front of the Energy and Technology Committee public hearing in support of Senate Bill 5, "An Act Concerning Internet Service Providers and Net Neutrality Principles." Senator Duff wrote and submitted the bill which is also a legislative priority for the Senate Democratic caucus.

"An Act Concerning Internet Service Providers and Net Neutrality Principles," would require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to apply net neutrality principles to Internet service providers and enforce such principles with civil penalties. Net neutrality is the principle that all Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

"The Internet is an integral part of our lives," said Senator Duff. "It has not only changed the way people engage with each other, but it is intrinsically linked to the economy. From small business owners to corporations to everyone in between, the Internet is something we all rely on. Unfortunately, the decision by the Trump Administration to repeal Net Neutrality endangers the level of access individuals have with the internet. This bill would ensure an accessible and open internet in Connecticut and would prohibit any throttling, surcharging, or paywalling from internet service providers. I'm hopeful that the Energy and Technology Committee will vote this bill out of committee and I'm eager to vote on it in the Senate."

The draft bill contains three main components, stating that that internet service providers (ISPs) in Connecticut:

Shall not block lawful content

  • This measure will prevent ISPs from blocking websites.

Shall not throttle

  • This section prevents ISPs from slowing down internet speeds from the agreed upon plan that was purchased.

Shall not engage in paid prioritization

  • This component primarily protects companies in Connecticut from having to pay to have their content delivered to the consumer. This protection is especially important for smaller companies that cannot afford to pay to have their content delivered at a faster speed.

In November 2014, President Barack Obama recommended that the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service in order to preserve net neutrality. In February 2015, the FCC did that and ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service. The Trump Administration has fought to repeal these regulations and succeeded in December 2017 when the FCC voted to reclassify broadband providers so that they are not considered common carries under Title II of the Communications Act of 1936.

In October 2019, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 200-page decision that largely sided with the FCC on its decision to roll back several Obama-era net neutrality protections. However, the court also ruled that states could enact their own protections. In 2018, the State Senate passed a bill to restore net neutrality in Connecticut but the bill died in the House of Representatives.

Other states have had success in passing similar proposals to protect the Internet. Washington State passed net neutrality in a bipartisan fashion, 35-14 in the state senate and 93-5 in the state house. In 2018 California also passed a similar measure. Oregon now prohibits public bodies from contracting with ISPs that engage in certain network management activities based on paid prioritization, content blocking or other discrimination. Additionally, Vermont requires an ISP to certify that it is in compliance with consumer protection and net neutrality standards in order to be eligible to receive a government contract for internet service.

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