By Emily Nitcher
LINCOLN — The debate about rules for Internet traffic is headed to the Nebraska Legislature.
Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln introduced Legislative Bill 856 on Friday to implement the Internet Neutrality Act.
Morfeld said he thinks the Federal Communications Commission made a “huge mistake” in December when it voted to repeal net neutrality rules. The decision reversed a policy put in place in 2015 during President Barack Obama’s administration.
“I think they are catering not to the interests of the country but rather the interests of some powerful corporations,” Morfeld said.
Under Morfeld’s bill, Internet service providers would be prohibited from degrading the speed of Internet traffic in Nebraska or providing paid prioritization of certain sites. Paid prioritization is when an Internet provider charges a website such as YouTube or Netflix for faster speeds. If they don’t pay, Internet access could be slowed.
Morfeld said that with an emerging technology sector in the state, throttling Internet speeds and limiting access could hurt economic growth.
He said the Internet has also changed the way people consume and share information with each other.
“If we want to have an informed and engaged young electorate, we have to ensure that everybody has equal access to information,” Morfeld said.
Morfeld’s bill will likely face pushback and perhaps even legal challenges.
Americans for Prosperity, a free-market advocacy group, said it opposes the bill. The group worked to repeal net neutrality at the federal level because it believes the government should have a hands-off approach to the Internet, said Brad Stevens, regional director.
“A free and open Internet is a principle we believe has fostered creativity, technological advancement and economic opportunity that has improved the quality of life for millions of Americans,” Stevens said. He added that the Internet should be a free marketplace of ideas and commerce.