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Following FCC ruling, state lawmakers say they’ll fight to protect net neutrality

Saying consumers are under threat following the rollback of an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission internet policy, a pair of DFL lawmakers said Tuesday they will introduce legislation during the 2018 session that would protect the principles of an open and free internet.

Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) said they would re-introduce a bill aimed at internet privacy next year — and that would include language to safeguard net neutrality in Minnesota.

WATCH Full video of Tuesday's news conference on Youtube

Net neutrality was an FCC policy that forced internet service providers to treat all data on the internet the same, preventing them from favoring — or blocking — certain internet traffic.

But last week, the commission voted to reverse that rule, with supporters saying the old policy was a government overreach that hurt internet providers and consumers alike. Opponents of that move, including Thissen and Latz, say it could lead to a tiered internet, with corporate profit motive outweighing public good.

“We think it’s time for the state of Minnesota to step up, to protect our residents, to protect their data privacy and protect their free speech,” Thissen said at a news conference. Thissen and Latz said their legislation would require internet or telecommunications companies that seek state permits to guarantee basic net neutrality principles like ensuring neutrality on all public networks, prohibiting the blocking of websites and applications, and prohibiting paid prioritization of certain internet data.

Their internet privacy bill was passed by both the House and Senate last year, but removed from the omnibus jobs and energy law during conference committee negotiations.

The 2018 session is scheduled to begin Feb. 20. 

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