California's 'gold standard' net neutrality becomes law

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Supporters of Net Neutrality, Toyah and Lance Brown Eyes, protest the FCC's decision to repeal the program in Los Angeles, California, November 28, 2017.

The US justice department has sued the state of California, just hours after the state's governor, Jerry Brown, signed legislation to restore internet protections known as net neutrality.

The FCC has said instead that other agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, should take a more active role in protecting the public from violations of net neutrality. Gen. Jeff Sessions said in a statement Sunday.

"Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce - the federal government does", Atty. The California legislature moved the bill to the governor's desk on September 11.

The Justice Department nearly immediately filed its lawsuit, arguing Senate Bill 822 interferes with the federal government's deregulatory approach to the internet, according to a statement.

As Gizmodo reports, the bill-now the most far-reaching of its kind and considered the "gold standard" for state-level protections-"prohibits ISPs from intentionally congesting or degrading web traffic for the goal of imposing unreasonable fees on companies that connect users on ISP networks to other parts of the web, also known as interconnection".

In December, the Federal Communications Commission said in repealing the Obama-era rules that it was preempting states from setting their own rules governing internet access.

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"Courts have consistently held that when the federal government lacks authority to regulate, it can not preempt states from regulating", said Andrew Schwartzman, a lecturer in public interest law at Georgetown University.

The department filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging the new piece of legislation is "unlawful and anti-consumer". They argued that it was unrealistic to expect them to comply with internet regulations that differ from state to state. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, prohibits internet providers from blocking or slowing data based on content or from favoring websites or video streams from companies that pay extra.

"Despite their army of lobbyists and millions spent lining the pockets of legislators, these companies continue to lose ground in the face of overwhelming cross-partisan opposition to their greedy attacks on our Internet freedom".

That could limit consumer choice or shut out upstart companies that can't afford to buy access to the fast lane, critics say.

The new law also bans "zero rating", in which internet providers don't count certain content against a monthly data cap - generally video streams produced by the company's own subsidiaries and partners.

After the governor's veto, Leyva said she will introduce the bill next session.

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