On Wednesday, April 11th, the Broadband Procurement and Disclosure Act, HB 4819, passed the House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & IT Committee with six votes in support, two in opposition and two abstaining. This legislation was originally filed by State Rep. Ann Williams on February 14th as a response to the announcement that the Federal Communications Commission planned on discontinuing federal net neutrality standards, making this legislation more important than ever before. The federal net neutrality protections was discontinued on April 23rd. This rollback means that there will be not be any federally enforced rules barring Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) from prioritizing content and blocking or slowing online internet access. The rollback of net neutrality also opens the door for ISP’s to instate data caps on the content of certain web pages, further restricting the free and open use of the internet.
HB 4819 is designed to ensure that net neutrality standards remain in place throughout Illinois, even after the federal rollback. It requires that any ISP doing business with the State must adhere to the current net neutrality standards and must not discriminate based on user or content, manipulate transmitted data, or slow down the speed of data transfers. HB 4819 also requires that ISP’s disclose their practices and commercial terms related to blocking, throttling or prioritizing web content so that the public is aware of any internet service manipulation they may be experiencing. Since Illinois only does business with a handful of large and powerful telecommunication companies, this legislation is essential to ensure that the internet remains free, fair and open for all users and not just those who have the means to pay for full, unrestricted access.
You can learn more about net neutrality and HB 4819 by visiting the ACLU’s website here. If you agree that Illinois should keep fair and open internet access for all, you can show your support for this legislation by registering a witness slip in favor of HB 4819 here by following these instructions.