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Raimondo signs executive order protecting net neutrality, urges legislation



Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo today signed an executive order protecting Net Neutrality a day after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rescinded federal regulations protecting internet users.

“A free and open internet is essential to our democracy and economy,” said Raimondo. “Rhode Island was founded on a principle that there is a place here for everyone. By protecting a free and open internet in our small state, we’re renewing that promise.”

The governor’s executive order requires internet service providers (ISPs) that contract with the state to commit to the principle of the previously defined net neutrality regulations. ISPs that wish to compete for state contracts may not block lawful content or applications, slow down access to lawful internet content, offer paid prioritization of content or applications or unreasonably interfere with users’ ability to access lawful content or applications.

The Rhode Island General Assembly is considering legislation to make these protections permanent. If legislation passes both chambers, Governor Raimondo will sign the bills.

Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence), who this session introduced H7422 to maintain net neutrality in Rhode Island, writes,

“This is a huge day for all of us who value a free and open internet, and I am so grateful to the Governor for taking this important step. Back in January, I joined with free speech advocates, civil liberties groups and tech entrepreneurs to call on state leaders to step up and pass policy to maintain the principles of net neutrality for our community. This principle – that once you’ve paid your internet access fee, you should be able to go where you want, when you want, how you want on the internet, and big cable companies shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on content or competition or political context – has made the internet one of the few remaining public squares where everyone is on the same level. I am thrilled that the Governor is endorsing the principles of net neutrality in this historically-important executive, and I am thankful to all the Rhode Islanders who have come together over the last four months to call for state action to make it harder for the big providers to slice and dice and segregate content. This is a great step, and I excited to continue working to maintain a free and open internet here in Rhode Island.”

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.