Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced last week that Connecticut will join 20 other states in federal appeals court to challenge the Trump administration’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality regulations.

In 2015, under former President Barack Obama, the Federal Communications Commission introduced a new set of rules requiring internet service providers to treat the internet like other public utilities. The rules banned internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or speeding up access to online content. In addition, the regulations prohibited internet service providers from accepting payment to offer preferential treatment for particular users, websites, content or platforms. But on Dec. 14, Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai repealed those regulations. The petition, submitted on Jan. 16, says the repeal of net neutrality violates federal laws, including the Constitution and the amended Communications Act of 1934.

“The Internet should always remain open and free,” Jepsen said in a press release on Jan. 16. “In the face of the FCC’s action, and the inaction of Congressional leadership to right this obvious wrong, state attorneys general are today taking this first step in asking the court to overturn the FCC’s order.”

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk — who has been vocal in his opposition to the net neutrality repeal — announced last month that he will introduce legislation in the 2018 General Assembly session to protect Connecticut businesses and consumers against the rollback of net neutrality. But this legislation will likely face pushback from the FCC, which has said state and local governments cannot impose their own local regulations on internet service.

Adam Joseph, a spokesperson for the Democrats in the Connecticut Senate, told the News that Duff’s legislation will seek to “hold companies to their commitments” and create a process to certify that internet service providers will not engage in practices that would block access to content with “throttle speeds” or preferential treatment.

“[Duff] was concerned about the rollback of net neutrality rules, how it was going to impact small businesses and consumers,” Joseph said of the decision to advocate for such legislation. “He is a believer in preserving open internet because he feels that it is good for businesses, startups, students and consumers.”

In a Jan. 16 press release, Duff praised Jepsen’s decision to join the multistate petition against the net neutrality rollback. Duff added that his legislation will “hold companies accountable” and “amend Connecticut’s consumer protection laws to include the principles of net neutrality.”

In New Haven and across the state, Democrats have rallied behind net neutrality.

New Haven spokesman Laurence Grotheer told the News that Mayor Harp favors a return to the policies of the Obama era, while Gov. Dannel Malloy D-CT, released a charged statement in December following the repeal announcement.

Malloy called the net neutrality repeal an “all-out assault on a free and open internet,” adding that open internet access is essential to Connecticut’s economic competitiveness. He said that the repeal would have a “damaging impact on the ability of Americans to utilize the internet.”

Members of the Board of Alders have also stated their support for net neutrality.

Ward 8 alder Abigail Roth ’90 LAW ’94 told the News she “definitely supports net neutrality” and Ward 26 alder Darryl Brackeen, Jr. released a long statement questioning the FCC’s decision and claiming it violates the First Amendment. Brackeen said he would stand with Duff in any legislation against the FCC’s repeal and urged his constituents to fight for net neutrality.

“What sets America apart from many democracies across the world is that Freedom of Speech is a right given by our constitution. If this is such a fundamental and sacred tenet of our democracy, does the Federal Communication Council realize it?” Brackeen wrote.

Montana implemented its own net neutrality legislation on Monday.

Ashna Gupta | ashna.gupta@yale.edu