Lawmakers asked for Executive Order to compel internet service providers to abide by net neutrality rules
Honolulu, Hawaii – House Speaker Scott K. Saiki is pleased that Governor David Ige agreed with House lawmakers by signing an Executive Order today requiring internet service providers with State contracts to abide by net neutrality rules. Last month, 21 House members wrote a letter to the Governor asking him to take this action to protect Hawaii residents and businesses from excessive internet fees and to ensure open access to the internet.
"Net neutrality protects Hawaii residents from unnecessary fee increases from internet and cable service providers and protects small businesses and internet entrepreneurs who depend on unrestricted access to information to create jobs using new technologies," Saiki said.
House lawmakers also asked the Governor to issue an immediate Executive Order protecting net neutrality in Hawaii and provided suggested language from recent orders coming out of Montana and New York. An Executive Order is seen as the fastest way to ensure net neutrality protections until bills currently before the Legislature, such as House Bill 1995, can be passed.
In December 2017, the United States Federal Communications Commission dismantled the previously existing net neutrality rules governing broadband internet service providers such as Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom. Although the regulations requiring net neutrality have only been in effect since 2015, net neutrality was the position of the federal government for more than a decade. The 2015 rules required internet service providers to treat all websites equally. Internet service providers could not use their power over the internet infrastructure to restrict access to certain information by blocking content or altering the speed that specific information could be uploaded or downloaded.
The end of net neutrality gives rise to legitimate concerns. First, internet service providers will be able to prioritize their profit-seeking interests over individuals' choices regarding the type of information to consume. Second, internet service providers may be able to manipulate individuals' political, social, and economic decision-making by shaping the information that is disseminated for public consumption. Third, internet service providers, with their significant leverage as information gate-keepers, may be able to force higher prices upon both content creators and content consumers in exchange for the transmittal of information.
The 21 State Representatives urging the Governor to issue an Executive Order protecting net neutrality include:
Scott K. Saiki, Speaker
Mark Nakashima, Vice Speaker
Della Au Belatti, Majority Leader
Dee Morikawa, Majority Floor Leader
Kaniela Saito Ing