Maine enacts groundbreaking net neutrality legislation

[via Lawbean]

Maine has become the first state in the union to pass legislation on net neutrality. The resolution, LD 1675, recognizes the importance of “full, fair and non-discriminatory access to the Internet” and instructs the Public Advocate to study what can be done to protect the rights of Maine internet users.

Small business owners and members of the technology industry say net neutrality is good for Maine business because it allows small businesses to compete online with large corporations. Having net neutrality principles in place would make Maine an attractive place to launch tech industry start-ups. As a result of a 2005 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality principles, which had been in place since the inception of the internet, were put in jeopardy. Following that decision, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe proposed legislation to reinstate net neutrality at the federal level. Maine’s resolution emphasizes the importance of net neutrality to Snowe’s home state and could provide the impetus for her to refocus attention on the issue.

Lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups had nothing but good things to say about the resolution:

“Maine is the first state in the nation to stand up for its citizens’ rights to a nondiscriminatory internet,” said Senator Ethan Strimling, the original sponsor of LD 1675. “The rest of the nation should follow suit and study what can be done to protect net neutrality.”

Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union said, “Maine is once again leading the way in protecting the rights of its citizens. This resolution will help re-establish the internet as the free and open arena of democracy it was always intended to be.”

Tony Vigue of the Community Television Association of Maine said, “This important legislation puts Maine first in affirming that Internet providers should not be allowed to discriminate by speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.”

“With a free and open internet young people are able to start businesses that compete in the global marketplace from their homes in Maine,” said Brian Hiatt, Maine Director of Communications and Online Organizing for The League of Young Voters. “Net Neutrality levels the playing field for Mainers.”

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