Net neutrality protects and promotes a fast, fair and open internet. It prohibits internet service providers from discriminating between content or users. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end net neutrality rules on Dec. 13, 2017.
Since the Internet does not distinguish between state boarders, individual states may be unable to directly enforce their own net neutrality laws. But that has not stopped multiple states, including Hawaii, from working to manage the effects on local levels.
An executive order signed by Gov. David Ige took effect on Feb. 5, 2018, directing all state government agencies to contract for internet-related service only with providers who contractually agree to abide by net neutrality principals.
These types of regulations could have a significant impact on many providers as state contracts tend to be large.
A recent poll showed that 83 percent of Americans disapprove of the FCC’s action to repeal net neutrality. Most recently, members of Hawaii’s Congressional delegation joined their U.S. House and Senate colleagues to introduce a measure designed to overturn the FCC decision on net neutrality.
Hawaii legislators have also expressed support for maintaining net neutrality in Hawaii. This includes House Bill 1995 that, if enacted, would aim to regulates broadband internet service providers to ensure a free and open Internet. The bill also would establish a task force to examine the costs and benefits of creating a state-owned public utility company to provide broadband internet service.