Vermont’s Net Neutrality Law Spurs Lawsuits

Net Neutrality

Five telecommunication industry groups–American Cable Association; CTIA – The Wireless Association; NCTA – The Internet & Television Association; USTelecom – The Broadband Association and the New England Cable & Telecommunications Association–filed suit against the state of Vermont on Thursday over the state’s net neutrality law. The law in question seeks to prevent companies that do not abide by the state’s net neutrality rules from receiving state contracts.

The industry groups allege that Vermont’s net neutrality law, which harkens back to Obama-era net neutrality policies, violates current Federal law and that companies cannot be expected to navigate competing state laws.

“Broadband providers are united in support of an open internet and committed to delivering the content and services consumers demand,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We oppose the actions in Vermont because states cannot use their spending and procurement authority to bypass federal laws they do not like.”

In May, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, signed a bill requiring all internet service providers doing business with Vermont to treat all web traffic equally. Earlier in the year, he signed a similar Executive Order.

“Our net neutrality legislation and my Executive Order demonstrate a clear commitment from Vermont’s elected officials, across branches and party lines, to preserving and promoting a free and open internet in Vermont,” Scott said Thursday in a statement. “While I understand consistent regulation is important to ensuring a vibrant and thriving telecom and cable sector, our obligation as a state government is to our citizens, who I strongly believe have a right to free and open access to information on the internet. In the absence of a national standard to protect that right, states must act.”

This isn’t the first lawsuit over states passing net neutrality legislation. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of California shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown signed stringent net neutrality regulations into law.

A Federal judge has set a Nov. 28 hearing for Justice’s lawsuit against California.  No date has been set for the Vermont lawsuit.

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