California Pushing Ahead for Net Neutrality

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 09, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

California is trying hard to bring net neutrality back from the dead, but it may take a minor miracle.

If the state's net neutrality bill passes, it could restore protections against broadband services throttling internet traffic and charging consumers more for faster lanes in California. It is not the first state to claw back from federal deregulation in the field, but it may have the biggest stake in the game with its world-ranked economy.

In the meantime, regulators and broadband providers have drawn a line in the sand against states that impose net neutrality rules. Unless there is compromise, there will be litigation.

California's Compromise Bill

The California Senate had approved a stronger bill, but Ars Technica said the Assembly gutted it. Lawmakers were bewailing what happened, but what happened was compromise.

AT&T and cable lobbyists pushed back, and a new version came out. Sen. Scott Wiener, author of the bill, said the compromise version was structured to survive challenges in court.

"It'll look different in terms of the way it's structured or ordered, but all of those key protections will be back in the bill," Wiener said. Once finalized, the new bill will make its way to the full Senate in August.

The key change removes a ban on "application-specific differential pricing," which the bill defined as "charging different prices for Internet traffic to customers on the basis of Internet content, application, service, or device, or class of Internet content, application, service, or device, but does not include zero-rating."

Washington's Net Neutrality

Washington, the state, was first to recover from the Federal Communications Commission's decision to revoke net neutrality regulations. The state law went into effect the same day the FCC decision became final.

The law follows the previous federal rules, barring internet service providers from throttling bandwidth and prioritizing traffic for money.

Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Vermont also have new laws that restrict state agencies from doing business with internet service providers that are not net neutral.

According to reports, however, the FCC is likely to challenge the state laws on preemption grounds.

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