HAVERHILL, MA – Representative Andy X. Vargas (D-Haverhill) today filed his first piece of legislation, An Act Protecting Consumers by Prohibiting Blocking, Throttling, or Paid Prioritization in the Provision Of Internet Service which moves to uphold the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules. The FCC voted on December 14 to strike the existing protections of net neutrality.
“As someone who has worked in the start-up world, I know how vital an open internet is,” said Representative Vargas in a statement. “The FCC’s recent vote to knock down net neutrality principles hurts small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individual consumers, ultimately raising the price of internet services and limiting service options. I proposed this legislation to prevent a widening of the digital divide and to protect the innovators and change-makers in Haverhill and across our Commonwealth.I look forward to studying further ways in which we can preserve net neutral practices.”
The legislation was modeled after a bill in the Washington State Legislature, which aims to protect consumers and preserve an open internet space. Vargas’ bill directs the Department of Public Utilities’ Department of Telecommunications and Cable to protect consumers and open internet access throughout the commonwealth. The bill also gives the Attorney General permission to enforce businesses’ cooperation with net neutral practices as they are outlined.
Despite the FCC ruling, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has begun exploring ways in which to uphold net neutrality principles at the state level. Attorney General Maura Healy recently joined New York Attorney General in filing a multistate lawsuit against the FCC for their rollback of net neutrality protections.
Vargas was elected on November 7, 2017, and sworn in on November 15, 2017. He previously served on the Haverhill City Council.