Net Neutrality Fights for Survival in California

On May 30, The California State Senate approved net neutrality rules stricter than the federal regulations they mean to replace.

This bill would replicate the nation-wide bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization implemented by the FCC in 2015. It would also surpass the FCC rules by banning paid data-cap exemptions. California is one of many states attempting to impose state-level net neutrality rules due to the FCC’s Republican leadership ban of the federal regulations. These regulations plan to start June 11.

The California Senate passed the bill with a vote of 23-12, all the Democrats voting aye and Republicans voting Nay. Before it becomes a California law, the bill also needs approval from the State Assembly, Democratic-majority. Then, Governor Jerry Brown (Democrat) needs to approve it as well.

A cable lobby group along with AT&T spoke against the bill at a committee hearing the month previous. AT&T complained the bill went way beyond the FCC rules. However, broadband-industry arguments  did not deter the Democratic-majority Senate.

Bill sponsor, Scott Wiener, said when Trump‘s FCC went against the net neutrality protections from the Obama-era, they promised to protect California residents from manipulated internet access.

Back in January, another net neutrality bill attempted to pass but did not make it through the Assembly.

Neutral Access to the Internet Via Net Neutrality

The core principle of the bill is that the ISPs must give neutral access to the internet as opposed to picking those capable of access or not via financially or otherwise. Otherwise, companies could decide which sites or apps would be easy or difficult to access, the speed of the access as well as whether or not a website is blocked entirely.

Core rules against throttling, blocking and paid prioritization aide, the bill prohibits marketing practices that are misleading and enacts strong disclosure requirements that improve upon consumer informing situations.

Support of Wiener’s bill comes from former FCC commissioners like previous Chairman Tom Wheeler, small businesses, labor unions. Even Mayors around the state, and public interest groups support the bill.

New York legislature is considering a similar net neutrality bill as well.

One concern among net neutrality supporters is if the broadband industry could end state net neutrality rules in the court. ISPs argue states are preempted by the FCC choice to end national regulations to net neutrality. However, their decision to restrict their authority over broadband may allow states to impose protective rules for their residents.