Oregon joins Washington as second net neutrality state

Oregon joins Washington as second net neutrality state

Oregon Governor Kate Brown [official website] signed HB 4155 [text, PDF] into law on Monday mandating public bodies in the state to “only contract with internet service providers that operate under net neutrality”, making Oregon the second state after Washington [JURIST report] to move against federal action to repeal net neutrality [JURIST report]. The bill was passed 21-7 [JURIST report] in the senate last month.

Specifically, the law states that a public body may not contract with a broadband internet access service provider (ISP) that: (a) engages in paid prioritization; (b) blocks lawful content, applications or services or non-harmful devices; (c) impairs or degrades lawful internet traffic for the purpose of discriminating against or favoring certain internet content, applications or services or the use of non-harmful devices; (d) unreasonably interferes with or unreasonably disadvantages an end user’s ability to select, access and use the broadband internet access service or lawful internet content, applications or services or devices of the end user’s choice; or (e) unreasonably interferes with or unreasonably disadvantages an edge provider’s ability to make devices or lawful content, applications or services available to end users.

The law additionally mandates specific disclosure requirements for broadband ISPs that provide internet access service to a public body, such as the ISPs network management practices and performance characteristics and the commercial terms of the ISPs broadband internet access service sufficient for end users to verify that the service is provided in compliance with this law.

However, the law does provide for certain exceptions. Some of these exceptions include situations where a broadband ISP engages in: 1) paid prioritization that the Public Utility Commission (Commission) determines to possess significant public interest benefits and that does not harm the open nature of the provided broadband internet access service; and 2) any activity described in (b) through (d) noted above if the Commission determines that the broadband ISP’s engagement in the activity is reasonable network management.

The law further defines reasonable network management as any activity that: (A) has a technical network management justification; (B) does not include other business practices; and (C) is narrowly tailored to achieve a legitimate network management purpose, keeping in consideration the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband internet access service.

Brown stated [press release] of the bill on Friday: “The internet has democratized knowledge and is an invaluable tool for education. It’s so important that it remains open and accessible for everyone … In Oregon, we want to make sure that access to the internet is a level playing field, instead of exacerbating economic disparity.”

Broadband ISP for purposes of this law does not include dial-up ISPs, which are not considered a part of the mass-market retail internet access service. The law’s provisions become effective for all new ISP contracts signed after January 1, 2019 and for any contracts renewed or extended after that date. The law does not apply to contracts signed before that date and not renewed or extended.