Net neutrality bill passes Oregon Legislature

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Legislature sent a net neutrality bill to Gov. Kate Brown, a response to moves by federal regulators aimed at forcing internet service providers in the state to treat all types of content equally.

The measure wouldn’t put any new requirements on internet providers, but would stop state agencies from buying internet service from any company that blocks or prioritizes specific content or apps, starting in 2019. The prohibition would include cities and counties, but includes an exemption for areas with only a single provider.

The move follows a December vote by the Federal Communications Commission repealing Obama-era rules prohibiting internet providers from selectively blocking or slowing some content or apps. Critics say the change could lead to the division of the internet into tiers, with controversial views or outlets relegated to slower tiers and high-quality information reaching only those able to pay extra.

The bill stops short of action by the Legislature in neighboring Washington state, which earlier in the week sent a bill to Governor Jay Inslee that prohibits neutrality-breaching behavior by internet providers. The Federal Communications Commission has said it will seek to block efforts by states to directly regulate providers.

Oregon’s bill passed the Senate on a 24-7 vote, after passing the House earlier in the week.