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Washington Becomes First State to Approve Net-neutrality Rules

“We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so,”

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks after signing a bill, March 5, 2018, in Olympia, Washington, that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the FCC's recent repeal of Obama-era rules. VOA

Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or impairing traffic.

“We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so,” Gov. Jay Inslee said before signing the measure that lawmakers passed with bipartisan support. “We know how important this is.”

The Federal Communications Commission voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.

ALSO READ: What will be the Fate of Net Neutrality after Being Repealed?

Because the FCC prohibited state laws from contradicting its decision, opponents of the Washington law have said it would lead to lawsuits.

Net-neutrality
Inslee said he was confident of its legality, saying “the states have a full right to protect their citizens.” Pixabay

Oregon law has not been signed

The new law also requires internet providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance, and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

While several states introduced similar measures this year seeking to protect net neutrality, only Oregon and Washington passed bills. But Oregon’s measure wouldn’t put any new requirements on internet providers.

It would stop state agencies from buying internet service from any company that blocks or prioritizes specific content or apps, starting in 2019. It’s unclear when Oregon’s measure would be signed into law.

Washington state was among more than 20 states and the District of Columbia that sued in January to try and block the FCC’s action. There are also efforts by Democrats to undo the move in Congress.

Net-neutrality
Governors in five states — Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana, and Vermont — have signed executive orders related to net-neutrality issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pixabay

ALSO READ: Zuckerberg in favor of 100 percent net neutrality

Expect new rules by mid-June

Big telecom companies have said net neutrality rules could undermine investment in broadband and introduce uncertainty about what are acceptable business practices. Net-neutrality advocates say the FCC decision would harm innovation and make it harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests.

The FCC’s new rules are not expected to go into effect until later this spring. Washington’s law will take effect mid-June.

Messages left with the Broadband Communications Association of Washington, which opposed the bill, were not immediately returned. (VOA)

Next Story

Washington’s Governor Raises Smoking Age to 21 to Curb Addiction

Other US states that introduced similar laws include California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and Oregon, in addition to the US Pacific territory of Guam and the District of Columbia

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Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has signed a bill into law raising the state’s smoking age to 21 years, making it the ninth in the country to introduce such legislation, officials said.

The new law, which was signed on Friday, raised the legal minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 years old to 21. It was passed in the Washington Senate on Wednesday and will take effect on January 1, 2020.

“We know the risks associated with tobacco and nicotine … We know how much easier it is to prevent our children from becoming addicted in the first place than to treat the addiction later in life, or even worse, to treat the cancers and diseases caused by these products,” Inslee said.

Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay
Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay

The Governor signed the bill in the presence of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, dozens of students, legislators and local health officials at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, the largest city in the state, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ferguson, a strong advocate of the bill, said the legislature was “saving thousands of people in Washington from a lifetime of addiction and smoking-related illness through this bill”.

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Hawaii was the first US state to raise the smoking age to 21 when its Governor signed a bill in 2015 to ban the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 21. Hawaii’s law went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Other US states that introduced similar laws include California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and Oregon, in addition to the US Pacific territory of Guam and the District of Columbia. (IANS)