California Lawmakers Pass Nation's Hardest Catch Neutrality Law


Net neutrality advocates, including Consumer Reports, are applauding the California measure, which would enact net neutrality rules for internet traffic in the state.

California's new net neutrality law prohibits slowing down or blocking access to content and a ban on zero rating. "Once again, the federal government has failed to lead, and California has stepped forward".

"The internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches", said Jonathan Spalter, President & CEO of USTelecom, a trade group representing broadband companies. Verizon soon apologized, noting that reducing the speed of emergency responders was a "customer support mistake", but held that the situation had "nothing to do with net neutrality".

Internet providers say they've publicly committed to upholding the values of net neutrality, but strict rules like California's would inhibit investment in faster technology.

This is not the first state wide resistance to the FCC's attack on net neutrality, with Washington State passing House Bill 2282 in March, with the rules coming into effect on June 6. The FCC's repeal of Net Neutrality protections has unleashed a flood of new regulations for ISPs to follow, and it doesn't appear it's going to get any better for ISPs, and perhaps consumers if ISPs in California can't deal with the new regulations and if Spectrum in NY can't work out a deal with the state. Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman appointed by President Donald Trump, pitched the repeal as a way to stop the federal government from "micromanaging the internet". "So when Donald Trump's FCC made a decision to take a wrecking ball to net neutrality protections, we knew that California had to step in to ensure our residents have access to a free and open internet", he said in a statement Friday. Under the proposed rules, providers can not charge companies fees for a better connection, or allow zero rating - when a provider doesn't count certain content against a plan's data cap.

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Consumer groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a number of smaller tech companies including Etsy, Reddit and Sonos lined up in favor of the bill. "SB 822 is a crucial step towards ensuring that we have a free and open internet that doesn't discriminate or price users or content differently".

Privacy-advocacy groups, coalitions of private businesses, attorney generals and more have been challenging the FCC dismantling of the rules, and the escalation of this saga seems to be entering into uncharted territories.

The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its higher standards for auto emissions, for example, have been followed by a dozen other states, giving California major sway over the auto industry. "With the strongest net neutrality legislation in the country, California now leads the way in guaranteeing access to the internet for all. And they're not going to let their elected officials get away with it if they sell out their constituents by siding with big telecom companies".

If the measure passes both chambers of the Democrat-controlled state legislature it would still require approval from Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who has not said if he would sign it into law. It faced opposition from major technology players, including Facebook, Google and Amazon.