Bill to protect net neutrality in Pennsylvania moving through House

HARRISBURG, Feb. 1 – Legislation to ensure a free and open internet in Pennsylvania is being drafted, said state Rep. Tim Briggs, who will sponsor the bill.

Based on a California bill, the legislation would prohibit an internet service provider from blocking, degrading or impairing lawful internet traffic based on content, application or service. It also would prohibit an ISP from allowing certain websites preferential treatment for a fee or sum.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission took steps to repeal net neutrality regulations. Without these consumer protections, ISPs would be able to block, slow, or speed up websites depending on content or service agreements.
“The loss of fair internet delivery is a big problem for consumers, but an even bigger impediment for new business, new ideas and the voices of people online who expect their democratic rights to outweigh powerful and moneyed interests,” Briggs said. “Allowing corporations to act as internet gatekeepers would be an alarming – if not terrifying – adjustment to how we inform ourselves and advocate for social progress, democracy and transparency.

“My bill would stop that from happening in Pennsylvania. All websites, large or small, should be provided to the consumer at the same speed.”

The bill also will have a procurement clause requiring the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to only purchase internet services from ISPs that abide by the principals of net neutrality. Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians use commonwealth owned websites for information and services every day.

The bill also is sponsored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware.

“If we allow internet speed throttling or prioritization, we risk putting Pennsylvanians at a disadvantage or worse, in peril,” she said.
“In the 21st century, our marketplace, entertainment, libraries and information exchange are located on the internet,” Donatucci added. “We need policies that firmly defend the right to access it all and to fight policies that threaten access.”

Briggs also introduced a separate bill to protect Pennsylvanians’ online privacy by restoring part of the privacy protections recently stripped by Congress and President Donald Trump. Both bills are part of a package of privacy and consumer protection bills designed by House Democrats as part of their Plan for PA, a set of policies that aim to put people first.