Governor Ige Signs Executive Order to Protect Net Neutrality

Governor David Ige signed an executive order, on Monday, that directs all state government agencies to contract for internet-related services only with providers who contractually agree to abide by net neutrality principals.

Net neutrality protects and promotes a fast, fair and open internet. It prohibits internet service providers from discriminating between content or users.

The Federal Communications Commission voted to end net neutrality rules on Dec. 13, 2017. Gov. Ige promised to take steps to protect net neutrality, pledging to ensure that all Hawai‘i residents continue to have the benefit of an open platform for innovation, education and free expression.

“An open internet is critically important to our people and our economy, connecting us to the rest of the world, increasing our commerce, fostering innovation, and adding to our economic growth. I have worked with my cabinet members, members of the House and other stakeholders to protect the integrity of this critical resource,” said Governor Ige.

Net neutrality bans paid prioritization of content that is seen on the internet; bans filtering or blocking of content, thus ensuring consumers unfettered access to any lawful content on the internet; and bans throttling of internet speeds for accessing certain content, which would have the same effect as blocking content.

The executive order takes effect Monday.

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki said that he is pleased that Governor David Ige agreed with House lawmakers by signing an Executive Order requiring internet service providers with State contracts to abide by net neutrality rules. Last month, 21 House members wrote a letter to the Governor asking him to take this action to protect Hawai`i residents and businesses from excessive internet fees and to ensure open access to the internet.

“Net neutrality protects Hawaii residents from unnecessary fee increases from internet and cable service providers and protects small businesses and internet entrepreneurs who depend on unrestricted access to information to create jobs using new technologies,” Saiki said.

House lawmakers also asked the Governor to issue an immediate Executive Order protecting net neutrality in Hawaii and provided suggested language from recent orders coming out of Montana and New York. An Executive Order is seen as the fastest way to ensure net neutrality protections until bills currently before the Legislature, such as House Bill 1995, can be passed.