Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order directing internet service providers to adhere to net neutrality principles.
Murphy also committed New Jersey to joining 21 other states in pursuing legal action against the FCC over its rollback of net neutrality protections.
“The internet is no longer a curious plaything available to a select few,” the governor said in announcing the moves Monday. “It is a vital part of everyday life. From making a purchase, to receiving emergency alerts, to applying for a job, to communicating in [local government]. Ensuring the availability of people and businesses to interact freely relies on the internet remaining a free and open platform.”
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet service providers are obligated to treat all internet traffic as the same.
Without net neutrality, ISPs would be allowed to charge customers or businesses for access to “fast lanes,” a premium cost for faster speeds.
The executive order will require all ISPs who wish to do business with New Jersey to follow net neutrality principles.
Murphy said deliberations with ISPs have begun and “many, if not all, have said they would adhere [to net neutrality] as a matter of honor.”
Jessica Gonzalez, CEO of Incharged, a Newark-based operator of cell phone-charging stations, also spoke at the governor's press conference.
“Net neutrality helps and protects tech companies like mine. Without net neutrality, businesses and communities around New Jersey will suffer,” Gonzalez said.
Opponents to net neutrality have said it restricts how ISPs can monetize their business and removes the incentive for companies to build more internet infrastructure. Proponents of net neutrality argue it is necessary to maintain a fair marketplace for internet businesses.
Net neutrality had been law since 2015, when the FCC voted to classify the internet as a Title II utility under the Communications Act of 1934. But that classification was repealed by the FCC in December.
In voting with the majority to repeal the classification, FCC chairman Ajit Pai called the 2015 action “heavy-handed regulation” that negatively impacted investment in internet infrastructure.
A group of 21 state attorneys generals are suing the FCC over its rollback of net neutrality, which the group calls “arbitrary and capricious.” The suit is led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana also have signed executive orders barring their states from entering contracts with internet service providers who refuse to follow net neutrality principles.