California State Senate Passes Net Neutrality Legislation

The California State Senate moved to reinstate net neutrality regulations following a 23-12 vote last week. The bill now moves to the state’s lower chamber where lawmakers have until August to vote.

The bill enshrines the FCC’s net neutrality regulation from 2015. Earlier this year, the commission voted to remove the regulations, but several states have already begun taking action to stem the move. California’s legislation bars internet service providers from throttling sponsored content or using deals to incentivize broadband companies from discriminating against other content on their network. While Washington and Oregon legislatures have already passed laws restoring net neutrality, California’s measure would go further by banning zero-rating, which permits internet access to certain websites under specific conditions.

California_State_ Sen_Scott_Wiener
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D)

“Today the State Senate took a huge step towards reinstating net neutrality in California,” said Democratic State Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco legislator who sponsored the bill. “When Donald Trump’s FCC took a wrecking ball to the Obama-era net neutrality protections, we said we would step in to make sure that California residents would be protected from having their internet access manipulated.”

If the bill gets through the assembly, the entire West Coast would make internet contracts without net neutrality stipulations illegal. However, as part of the FCC rollback this year, they have banned states from creating their own regulations. The FCC claims their regulations preempt any state measures because interstate broadband services falls within the federal government’s regulatory purview. Needless to say, a looming showdown between federal and state authority is likely. If the courts rule in favor of the states, it will create a regulatory challenge for ISPs operating in different regions.

Danny Restivo Contributed to this Report

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