Minnesota version of Net Neutrality introduced at Legislature today (HF 136)

I’m on the road today so I wasn’t on site but I was able to listen to Rep Stephenson introduce HF 136. Here is the short description of the bill:

Internet service providers servicing Minnesota customers and those under contract to the state or political subdivisions certain activities prohibited.

The hope was to move the legislation to Government Operations. (And it is moved.)

Here is an overview from MN House Research

This bill prohibits certain activities that were previously prohibited under the net neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission, when those activities are done by Internet service providers who provide services to state agencies or political subdivisions. The bill also requires Internet service providers to provide content neutral services and prohibits paid prioritization of traffic when providing Internet service to people in Minnesota. The bill provides for enforcement mechanisms through investigation by the Department of Commerce, consumer protection remedies from the Attorney General, or criminal prosecution.

Testifiers:

Professor from U of M (Joseph Contane?): spoke about Net Neutrality in general and how it works. Mentions that while many businesses (Google, Facebook) are making money from greater traffic on the Internet, providers don’t. Because they are like a utility. He compares it to the roads not getting more money when traffic if high. Compares the end user’s story to the provider’s story. Ends up asking if we think the Free Market will solve some of these problems and has the internet already been buoyed by public funds.

John Gordon (ACLU): Supports HF 136 – 2 dozen other states are already working on Net Neutrality because free info is the lifeblood of democracy. Gave examples of providers blocking customers based on the content of messages that they tried to send. Reiterate stories providers have given in other states such as, net neutrality is unnecessary as providers plan to adhere to premise with or without regulation, impossible to adhere to law in different states, the FTC will look after consumers.

Tony Mendoza (MN Cable): Supports Net Neutrality at the federal level – not on a state by state basis. Gives a lot of explanation of terms in the bill, including definitions. The question is how to regulate the internet. MN Providers have invested $1 billion in broadband deployment. The MN Broadband Grants are a model of how to continue the investment but this regulation would impact the interest grants.

Anna Borroff (MN Cable): Cable companies adhere to Net Neutrality principles; but we think it’s a federal issue.

Jim Beatty (BEVcomm/MTA): MTA companies have invested $118M in 2018. Afraid that this bill might have a negative impact on the MN Broadband grants. We adhere to net neutrality principles but we have issues will drastic measures when we don’t always have ultimate control of access. (Think of escalated traffic on a snow day.) Tough to understand limits of reasonable network management.

Paul Wertz (ATT): Invests more than $100 million annual in MN. Net Neutrality is a federal issue. Net Neutrality has not come up with MN Broadband Task Force.

John Dukich (MHTA): Regulation should happen at federal level.

Here are the amendments that were discussed:

H0136A2.pdf (2/13/2019) – didn’t pass
H0136A3.pdf (2/13/2019) – didn’t pass
H0136A4.pdf (2/13/2019) – didn’t pass
H0136A5.pdf (2/13/2019) – adopted
H0136A1.pdf (2/12/2019)

Discussion

We hear from industry that this should be a federal level. BUT MCCA needs to talk to their members about a unified message on Net Neutrality. And they speakers seem to have more confidence in the federals policymakers than we do.

What is the issue with the edge provider (like ESPN 360)? They seem to charge access fees to providers. What will happen with that? It could put small providers in a bad position.
It seems like providers are covered. It has more to do with charges than network management, but it seems worth deeper inspection.

How will this impact school/business (edge) providers?

It is not with edge providers.
BUT now we have providers without legal people who will not know the answers and may influence their broadband grant eligibility. It make decrease interest in the grants.

It seems like there isn’t enough money for grants anyways – so why are we worried about people not taking advantage of it.

This bill only applies to providers not edge providers. We can have that discussion in the next Committee Stop.

We have a $100 million broadband bill coming up later this week.

Why are we questioning intent? I don’t want to hear about lobbying contracts – because it’s not gentlemanly.

Net Neutrality is a rural issue. In many areas the market will take care of some issues. This will not happen in most rural areas.

Suburban legislators should not support this. CAF money is good enough for Minnesota. There are no unserved areas in MN because satellite serves everyone. This bill doesn’t impact satellite. Why not?
We can think about that.
It’s not worth talking about this – it will never pass.

Many people say they don’t have access, we need to respect that.
Some people don’t believe in the moon landing.

 

Here is a reaction/press release from Industry folks:

Minnesota High Tech Association
Minnesota Telecom Alliance
Minnesota Cable Communication Association
CTIA – National Wireless Trade Association

Joint Statement on Proposed Net Neutrality Legislation

“We are committed to the open internet and to protecting consumers online.  That’s why we support permanent, federal bipartisan legislation that would protect internet openness and freedom and ensure consistent rules for all companies and across all websites.

Any state attempts to regulate the internet will not only result in a patchwork of inconsistent laws impossible to implement, but will also be preempted by federal law.  In addition, it makes no sense for Minnesota to consider its own net neutrality legislation when litigation is currently pending on the issue at the federal level.

The bottom line: Congress must pass a national policy to preserve the open internet and protect consumers.”

###

Minnesota Cable Communications Association (MCCA) statement on Rep. Zach Stephenson and Senator Ron Latz legislative proposal (HF136) on net neutrality in Minnesota.

St. Paul, February 13, 2019 – The Internet is a staple of almost every American’s life. It links us together in the digital world and drives innovation and technological expansion. It is a valuable tool responsible for nearly 10% of the U.S. GDP. It should not be subject to politics.

“Today’s proposal by Senator Latz and Rep. Stephenson would create a Minnesota Internet island and disadvantage Minnesotans,” said Anna Boroff, Executive Director, Minnesota Cable Communications Association. “If further regulations are deemed necessary, the proper place for legislative action is the United States Congress, not Minnesota.”

HF136 would have negative consequences for broadband investment, competition and innovation in Minnesota. Data travels without regard for state lines. For a consumer, opening a website or streaming a TV show is a simple action. For operators, it is a complex chain of events involving servers, backbones, content delivery networks, and exchange points. Many of these steps cross multiple state boundaries, making broadband a prime example of an interstate service. Congress and the courts have also consistently held that the federal government has primacy on Internet and data network regulations.

Importantly, Minnesota’s cable companies adhere to the principles of net neutrality. They do not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content and are transparent with their consumer practices. Additionally, these principles are in their binding commitments to customers, and are enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission.

“If Senator Latz and Rep. Stephenson believe they need to ensure net neutrality for Minnesotans, they should lobby their Member of Congress,” added Boroff.

This entry was posted in uncategorized by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s