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Bellingham Bulletin

Fattman votes in favor of legislation to protect internet consumers

Aug 30, 2018 06:00AM

Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster)

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate voted in favor of a bill to empower the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable to serve as a watchdog over Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”). 

State Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Sutton), who voted in favor of the legislation, stated dependable affordable internet is essential for all in the Commonwealth.

The legislation requires the Department of Telecommunications and Cable to develop a user-friendly grading system that consumers can easily understand (similar to the restaurant grading system now employed by many city health departments).

ISPs will be graded on how effectively they provide net neutral services and protect customer’s privacy. If an ISP voluntarily complies with best practices, as determined by the Department, they will be allowed to display the newly created “Massachusetts Net Neutrality and Consumer Privacy Seal” on their marketing materials.

The bill also requires state agencies to give preference to ISPs providing net neutral service when issuing state procurement contracts and updates the municipal light plant law to make it clear that municipalities can build and run their own “last mile” internet networks.

The principle of net neutrality requires ISPs to act as “neutral” providers, and not interfere with how quickly or slowly internet content reaches customers. Since Obama-era FCC rules were rolled back last year, ISPs are now free to engage in preferential treatment in ways that were previously banned, as long as they make truthful disclosures about what they are doing.

However, these disclosures are too technical for consumers to understand, and therefore they are not useful in holding ISPs accountable.

“It is our duty as legislators to protect the rights and freedoms of our constituents.  This legislation will help protect free speech because without neutrality in internet services, ISP’s have the ability to block and censor websites, apps, and networks that they don’t agree with, without any say from people in a democratic fashion.  This legislation will help make consumers make better-informed choices about their internet services,” said Fattman

Constituents with questions or comments on the bill may call the Senator’s office at 617-722-1420.

 

 

 

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