Harrisburg – January 26, 2018 – State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) called on Gov. Tom Wolf to use an executive order to protect net neutrality for all Pennsylvanians. 

In December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to dismantle regulations guaranteeing consumers equal access to the Internet.  Consumer protection advocates believe this will likely result in greater Internet restrictions, limited access and higher costs for consumers. 

In a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, Farnese said the governor’s executive action should prohibit state agencies from awarding “a contract, grant or tax credit” to Internet service providers who refuse to “offer, free, open access to the Internet.”

“An executive action by the governor is the fastest way to protect consumers in Pennsylvania,” Farnese said.  “Internet service providers who refuse to provide free, open access should not be eligible to do business with Pennsylvania government until they adopt common sense protections for consumers.”

Earlier this month, Farnese announced that he was also introducing legislation (Senate Bill 1033) to prohibit Internet service providers from limiting access and content.

“It is important for the governor to protect net neutrality and ensure that consumers will not face additional costs or limited Internet access,” Farnese said.  “Until Congress passes a new law overriding the FCC or my legislation makes its way through the General Assembly, the executive action by the governor would send a strong signal to service providers about protecting net neutrality.”

-30-

 

Editor’s Note: January 25, 2018 letter from Sen. Larry Farnese to Gov. Tom Wolf

January 25, 2018

 

The Honorable Tom Wolf
Governor of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Governor Wolf,

I am writing to respectfully request your signing of an executive order to protect net neutrality for Pennsylvanians.

As I am sure you are aware, on December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle regulations that ensure net neutrality, which essentially required internet service providers to offer equal access to the internet. While there have been rumblings in the U.S. Congress on enacting a federal law to protect net neutrality, no action has been taken.

I do not believe we can wait for Congress to act on this issue. Today, the Internet plays a part in nearly every interaction we have. The idea that those free, unfiltered interactions could soon be based on what content internet service providers want us to see is unacceptable.  Repealing net neutrality means that consumers will have less choice, schools and universities will have increased costs for online learning, and democracy will suffer as information is filtered by those who can pay the most.

For this reason, I am introducing legislation that would prohibit internet service providers from limiting access to lawful content, engaging in paid prioritization, or otherwise interfering with lawful content available to users. It would also contain a provision that will prohibit state agencies or political subdivisions to award a contract, grant, or tax credit to a provider that fails to comply with net neutrality.

While this legislation is important, I am respectfully requesting that you draft and sign an executive order that incorporates the provision of my legislation that prohibits state agencies from awarding a contract, grant, or tax credit to providers refusing to offer free, open access to the Internet. I believe signing an executive order is fast and effective way to complement my legislative effort, and Governors in New York and Montana have already done so.

Again, protecting net neutrality is too important to do nothing. The federal government has failed to protect Pennsylvanians, so I hope you will join me in the fight to do so.

Very Truly yours, 

Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
State Senator
1st Senatorial District

 

cc:  William Danowski, Secretary of Legislative Affairs

        The Honorable Jay Costa, Minority Leader