California close to enacting nation’s strongest net neutrality law. State lawmakers voted to pass a bill restoring net neutrality protections Friday. If signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it would ensure all California broadband customers have equal access to content on the internet.
The law would be the strictest for internet providers in the United States, and put California at odds with the federal government.
The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn Obama-era net neutrality protections earlier this year. 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.”
“When Donald Trump’s FCC decided 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,” California State Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “We hope that other states can look to this legislation as a model for net neutrality standards.”
The California bill prohibits internet providers from blocking, slowing down, or speeding up content from certain sites or apps. For example, a company could not give free speedy access to its own streaming service but slow down Netflix. Under the proposed rules, providers cannot 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.
It will now head to Governor Brown, who has until September 30 to veto the legislation or sign it into law. Brown has not publicly stated whether or not he will sign the bill, though it has broad support from state Democrats.
The federal government could sue the state of California over the law, leading to an eventual showdown in the Supreme Court.
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