New CA Net Neutrality Law Signed, State Sued

By George Khoury, Esq. on October 01, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When the FCC decided to turn its back on net neutrality, the state of California decided it was time to take action. In response, the California legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law, Senate Bill 822, named the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018.

The California law is similar to the Brightline regulations imposed by the FCC in 2015, which were rescinded earlier this year. However, living up to its reputation as a leader, California's new net neutrality law goes a little bit further. Unfortunately for the state, the federal government isn't pleased with the state's new law and has filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District Court seeking to permanently enjoin enforcement of the law and have it invalidated under the Supremacy Clause.

Challenging for Change

Despite the recent FCC repeal of the 2015 net neutrality policies including specific language stating that states may not impose their own net neutrality rules, California's lawmakers passed the law knowing litigation was forthcoming.

The federal government is claiming that the FCC's order prohibiting states from passing net neutrality laws, essentially, trumps the new California law, under the Supremacy Clause. Additionally, in the announcement from the DOJ, it called out the issue that this law seems to impact interstate commerce, and that is the federal government's domain.

Notably though, proponents of net neutrality argue that when the FCC repealed the 2015 rules, it also declassified broadband internet services out of their own jurisdiction. Additionally, in a prior federal appellate matter, it was ruled that the FCC's power to preempt state laws is not unlimited. You can read the federal government's lawsuit here.

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