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Gov. Inslee responds to I-405-net neutrality comparison

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. (AP)
LISTEN: Gov. Jay Inslee responds to I-405 / net neutrality comparison

Ever since the debate over ending net neutrality was heightened this year, many have drawn comparisons between the arguments against the internet regulation and for the I-405 toll lanes. Washington Governor Jay Inslee doesn’t see any conflict.

RELATED: Life without net neutrality hard to imagine in Seattle

For example, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D) argued that ending net neutrality will turn the internet into a toll road where only the rich get top access.

With the disastrous repeal of Net Neutrality rules, the Internet may start to resemble a toll road, with the highest bidders cruising along private ‘fast lanes’ while the rest of us inch along a single, traffic-choked public lane; and we could be forced to purchase internet packages much like cable packages, paying more for popular sites.

Assertions like that have had many Washingtonians wondering why the I-405 toll lanes are favored by lawmakers against ending net neutrality. Aren’t the I-405 toll lanes essentially set up for top-paying drivers?

Governor Jay Inslee didn’t address the comparison directly while talking with KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson, but did argue why the I-405 express toll lanes should stay.

“I don’t look at this as sort of a black and white … there are some toll proposals that do not make sense, and there are some that do,” Inslee said. “I have looked at this really carefully and I am convinced that if we abandoned the tolling mechanism that is now in place I believe that motorists are going to have a much worse situation on 405, because we are moving 20 percent more people now on that route with no reduction in times in the general purpose lanes.”

“I know that if tomorrow we shut down those toll lanes … the commuting nightmare that people have is going to get worse,” he said.

I-405 vs. net neutrality

Inslee, on the other hand, is ready to challenge the FCC’s recent decision to abandon protections for the internet. He’s not alone. Washington lawmakers are ready to implement state regulations to take over for the loss of federal protections. The state’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, is also aiming for a legal fight over the issue.

The FCC voted to knock down net neutrality this month, which ensured equal access to the internet for all consumers. Net neutrality rules stated that internet service providers — like a cable company — could not block access to competitors’ sites, or to content with views the company disagrees with. They also prohibited the providers from cutting deals with businesses to give them an advantage over competitors and smaller businesses.

Dori argues that this would never happen; that there are anti-trust laws in place, and that before net neutrality began in 2015, internet service providers never operated in the way people warn that they will now. Inslee disagrees.

“The proof of that is some of the ISPs are spending millions and millions of dollars to lobby against this rule … there is no reason a large corporation spends millions of dollars to lobby against a rule and then says, ‘we are not going to do it,’ Inslee said. “They have a clear business plan to do it, there is a profit motive to do it. When they do that, the small guy is going to get hurt.”

“They understand they can get around anti-trust laws,” he said. “They cannot get around net neutrality laws and that’s where they are fighting it so hard.”

“One of the reasons people have these concerns is because ISPs are fighting so hard for the right to discriminate, for the right to block people, for the right to charge small businesses,” Inslee added. “They are fighting for that. You bet these fears are justified. When someone spends millions of dollars to preserve the right to discriminate against you, they probably want to discriminate against you. I consider this a fundamental issue of democracy and economic growth.”





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