UPDATE 11/29/18: HB 4819 did not pass the 100th General Assembly before its adjournment. We look forward to pursuing legislation to uphold net neutrality principles in Illinois in the 101st General Assembly.
Net neutrality is about free speech. Without equal access to the internet, we lose our rights to be heard and to hear others. It’s important that internet providers not be allowed to play favorites because they disagree with the message being delivered or want to charge more money for faster delivery.
Net neutrality requires internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all data equally by not discriminating based on user or content, without manipulating transmitted data, or slowing down the speed at which the data is transferred. In short, net neutrality rules are what keep the Internet open, fair, and free, and a powerful tool for the open exchange of ideas and information Illinois residents have come to expect.
HB 4819 - the Broadband Procurement and Disclosure Act - became necessary after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to dismantle net neutrality this past December, which opens the door for ISPs to control the content their customers access on the Internet, how fast they access that content, and how much customers have to pay to access certain types of content. HB 4819 works to keep an open internet in Illinois by requiring all ISPs who do business with state agencies and organizations to commit to honoring net neutrality principles for all customers in Illinois, and to disclose in detail practices and commercial terms relating to blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization.
Honoring net neutrality principles is essential because Illinoisans receive internet access from only a handful of telecommunications giants — indeed, nearly 50 million American households have only one high-speed ISP in their area to choose from. There have already been many examples of ISPs discriminating or slowing down internet traffic based on content. Without net neutrality, ISPs are free to block content to their customers under the terms and conditions of user agreements, may charge customers different amounts for accessing the same websites and data, and may slow down internet speeds when customers access content from ISP competitors.