A new bill in the Massachusetts state legislature would create a state registry of internet service providers, where consumers would have the ability to grade providers on net neutrality and privacy standards.
The bill is among the latest state actions taken in the wake of the repeal of federal rules regarding net neutrality, which were aimed at regulating providers' treatment of internet traffic.
In December 2017, the Republican-majority U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to get rid of the agency's net neutrality rules, which forbade network operators from blocking or throttling legal internet traffic or prioritizing certain traffic in exchange for payment. The vote was part of a broader proceeding that reclassified how broadband is regulated, moving it to what proponents called a "lighter-touch" Title I classification. Previously, broadband was classified as a Title II service, which provided the FCC broader authority to regulate it. The new rules repealing net neutrality requirements and reverting broadband to a Title I service went into effect June 11.
The Massachusetts bill would also require ISPs to annually disclose their network management practices and commercial terms of internet access services, which the state would then verify on its own or through a third party. Additionally, the bill would create rules to establish a "Massachusetts Net Neutrality and Consumer Privacy Seal," which ISPs could attain and use in marketing material if they meet the standards.
When the FCC overturned its net neutrality rules, it also attempted to pre-empt states from passing their own laws on the issue. The commission's order prohibits "any state or local measures that would effectively impose rules or requirements that we have repealed."
Despite this, lawmakers in 29 states have introduced legislation to secure some form of net neutrality standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states — Washington, Oregon and Vermont — have passed legislation.