Senate committee considering legislative response to net neutrality repeal

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP)-A special committee on net neutrality and consumer protection wants to ensure consumers have open and equal access to the internet. They held their first hearing in Boston Tuesday.

The FCC voted to repeal net neutrality almost two months ago-a decision that has some state officials and the public concerned about access to the internet in the future. Net neutrality rules require providers to offer customers equal access to the internet without charging you more to use certain apps or blocking websites.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey spoke out against the FCC’s decision at the hearing.

“Those who can’t afford to pay a premium may face slow downloads, delayed or blocked access to vital services and innovative products, and limited content options,” Healey said.

Despite lawmaker and public concern that companies may abuse privilege by making customers pay more for priority access to services, Boston College Associate Proffesor of Law Daniel Lyons said there are also good reasons for prioritization.

“A prohibition on contracting with networks that prioritize traffic, might, for instance, jeopardize Massachusetts’ ability to participate in first net, which is AT&T’s public safety network that prioritizes first responder traffic ahead of all other traffic on the network,” Lyons said.

Multiple lawmakers have filed bills that would prohibit blocking and paid prioritization in Massachusetts. The proposals have not yet come up for a vote.

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