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FCC will block states from passing their own net neutrality laws

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Local regulations can’t make life harder for ISPs

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

After the FCC began its assault on net neutrality earlier this year, several cities and states began looking into ways to protect consumers on their own. Unfortunately, the FCC has decided that it won’t allow that to happen: as part of its proposal to repeal net neutrality, the commission is trying to use its authority to preempt any and all state and local net neutrality regulations.

The commission intends to block any local laws or regulations that “effectively impose rules or requirements that we have repealed or decided to refrain from imposing in this order or that would impose more stringent requirements for any aspect of broadband service that we address in this order.”

So to sum up: states can’t pass anything covered in the 2015 net neutrality order, they can’t pass anything the FCC mentioned but didn’t pass in this new order, and they can’t pass anything that would at all make life more difficult for ISPs. That seems to include the stricter privacy rules that Congress voted to throw out earlier this year.

The FCC says it’s able to implement this ban because internet access is an interstate service, and it’s impractical to make ISPs treat interstate and intrastate traffic differently. Doing so, the commission writes, would apply “far greater burdens” and “pose an obstacle to or place an undue burden on” the delivery of broadband internet.

It’s very likely this provision will end up being challenged in court, especially since states and localities have already started passing measures to protect consumers’ data. If it holds up, it’ll then be up to Congress to pass stricter net neutrality rules.

The FCC will vote on its proposal to end net neutrality on December 14th.