4 U.S. States (Representing 1/5th of the Country's Population) Have Passed Measures Protecting Net Neutrality

What good is a law if 1/5th the US population defies it?  Now, another Executive Order — this time from the governor or New Jersey — is directly challenging the authority the FCC and its net neutrality rollback.

The FCC rolled back net neutrality.  On paper.  But is that rollback now just a paper tiger?

That’s a question now being asked by major internet companies, legislators, and the FCC itself, thanks to another defiant executive order.  This time, the State New Jersey is decisively on the side net neutrality.  The state has nearly 9 million inhabitants.

Just this morning, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed an Executive Order requiring that any ISP doing business with the state adhere to net neutrality principles.  Accordingly, any ISP that wants to promote paid ‘fast lanes’ and throttle internet traffic can take their business elsewhere.

“We may not agree with everything we see online, but that does not give us a justifiable reason to block the free, uninterrupted, and indiscriminate flow information,” Governor Murphy declared.

“And, it certainly doesn’t give certain companies or individuals a right to pay their way to the front the line. While New Jersey cannot unilaterally regulate net neutrality back into law or cement it as a state regulation, we can exercise our power as a consumer to make our preferences known.”

A full version Executive Order No. 9 can be found here.

The Executive Order follows two similar orders by the governors New York and Montana.  It also follows a defiant bill by the State California to require all ISPs in the state to adhere to net neutrality.  That bill is rapidly headed towards becoming law.

Those states accounts for combined 21.35 percent the entire US population, according to 2016 population estimates.

Of course, California and New York account for the most people, with a combined 59 million Americans.  Montana fers another 1.04 million (approximately), with New Jersey containing 8.94 million people.   In total, that’s nearly 69 million people, or more than 21% every living person in the US.

Meanwhile, other states are close to the tipping point.  Perhaps Colorado should already be added to the tally, thanks to aggressive shifts towards state-run ISPs.  In total, the FCC is being sued by more than 20 state attorneys general.

All which is making life extremely difficult for mega-ISPs like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast.

One simple reason is that defiant states now present potential war zones — and war is bad for business.  For starters, an ISP that refuses to adhere to net neutrality provisions in a state like New Jersey risks losing billions dollars.  And even if it wins a legal battle, the cost could be years suspended service and alienated customers.

But the effects these state refusals is actually more far-reaching.  If ISPs smartly decide to comply with the Orders, they are then presented with a state-by-state patchwork access rules, which introduces massive compliance costs and headaches.

That may explain why AT&T is now speaking in favor net neutrality, despite the obvious prit problems that come with it.  Other mega-ISPs are yet to speak publicly on the matter, though the FCC’s decision to blatantly ignore public opinion now appear to be seriously backfiring.

Here’s a quick rundown state-by-state actions to protect net neutrality since the FCC’s rollback.

+ January 17th: 117 Colorado Cities & Counties Have Voted to Allow Locally-Created ISPs

+ January 22nd: Montana’s Governor Issues an Executive Order to Force Net Neutrality In His State

+ January 24th: New York’s Governor Orders All ISPs to Follow Net Neutrality — Or Leave the State

+ January 30th: State California Passes Its Own Net Neutrality Bill — In Direct Defiance the FCC