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Net Neutrality Debate Advances To IL General Assembly

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers Wednesday took a step closer to establishing state net neutrality rules before the federal regulations expire later this month. The Illinois proposal advanced out of a House committee and will be discussed by the General Assembly. But — there’s still confusion about consumer protections and the legality of the legislation.

Cable and internet service providers say they have already pledged their support for net neutrality — and the General Assembly getting involved is unnecessary.

But state Rep. Jonathan Carroll — a Northbrook Democrat — said he isn't convinced with just a pledge. “Words are one thing. But this gives them the opportunity to make more profit. So I’d like to know — besides words, where's the guarantee that they will not get away from net neutrality.”

Opponents say the Federal Trade Commission would be tasked with ensuring these providers keep their word.

The FCC voted last year to end net neutrality -- the idea that no websites are slowed down or blocked.  The Illinois proposal would ask Internet providers to disclose if they don’t plan to follow these guidelines.

Internet companies like Comcast have said they prefer to see the federal government set the rules. But it's unclear if the Trump administration plans to take up the matter after April 23 -- when the federal rules expire.

Matthew Brill, a lawyer representing these providers, testified at the Illinois hearing. He said having several different legislative approaches complicates business for his clients. “It has not been good for any of the stakeholders — for consumers, for industry players to toggle back and forth between different models of regulation that creates uncertainty and instability.”

But advocates say restoring net neutrality isn't a form of regulation -- but rather about internet content and fairness for consumers. 

Daisy reports on various assignments for NPR Illinois. She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting master’s degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she spent time covering the legislative session for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. Daisy interned then researched for the Chicago Reporter. She obtained an associate degree in French language from Harry S Truman College and a bachelor's degree in communications from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before coming to Springfield, Daisy worked in communication roles for several Chicago non-profits. Daisy is from Chicago where she attended Lane Tech High School.
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