JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - In a bill pre-filed Friday, an Alaska lawmaker proposed regulations for Internet service providers in the state, requiring them to practice net neutrality, despite the recent repeal of such regulations at the federal level.
According to Dep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, the legislation is needed to help Alaskan business compete in a fair environment.
“Net neutrality is more than just a lofty concept, it’s a necessity, especially for Alaska’s small businesses. Eliminating net neutrality will make it more difficult for small businesses to compete against large established businesses who can afford to pay for higher speeds and increased access to information,” said Rep. Kawasaki in a news release Friday.
Net neutrality previously mandated similar ISPs to keep traffic speeds the same across the internet, regardless of ad revenue. Without it, Kawasaki said, providers will be able to speed up, slow down, or even block websites, requiring users to pay a premium to access their favorite sites.
Despite the FCC's recent decision to eliminate such Internet rules, the fight to keep them in place on a federal level is still continuing on Capitol Hill. Part of Alaska's representation in DC, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said while she approves of the FCC's actions, there is more to be done.
"Do I think that the FCC was right in rolling it back? Yes. Do I think that there is more that needs to be done? Yes," said Murkowski. Murkowski said she wants bipartisan legislation crafted, rather than an effort to reverse the FCC's action.
Meanwhile, regardless of whether net neutrality is reinstated at the federal level, Alaska lawmakers like Kawasaki are taking upon themselves to establish a state-level law which could accomplish the same thing.
“The recent FCC decision eliminating net neutrality was a mistake that favors the big internet providers and those who want to restrict the kinds of information a free-thinking Alaskan can access. That is not the Alaskan way, and I am hopeful my colleagues in the House and Senate will agree by making House Bill 277 a priority this session,” said Rep. Kawasaki.
The bill is only pre-filed right now, but Kawasaki said he intends to formally introduce the bill once the Alaska State Legislature starts back up on January 16.