California Passes Strongest Net Neutrality Law in the United States of America

September 10, 2018 - 4 minutes read

A few months ago, we were super excited about California’s net neutrality bill successfully moving through the state’s Senate. A few days ago, we got even better news: the bill passed with approval through the State Assembly.

The bill changed a bit between the Senate and Assembly, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls the final version “a gold standard net neutrality bill.”

A Better Standard for the U.S.

Considered the strongest net neutrality law in the U.S., the bill would reverse the net neutrality law that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently repealed. California’s law prevents internet service providers, like Comcast and Verizon, from throttling connections, blocking content, and giving certain sites priority, no matter if the user is on desktop or mobile.

The new law would restore the net neutrality conditions that Obama placed federally. It extends past the net neutrality clauses; it bans zero-rating specific apps, which means that no one is allowed to offer free Internet in exchange for using a specific app or website.

However, if the free data can apply to an entire category of apps or websites, zero-rating is okay by California’s bill. This means web and mobile app developers could face serious competition trying to gain popularity over the big players like Facebook and Amazon.

Barbara van Schewick is a law professor at Stanford, about an hour outside of San Francisco. She says the legislation is “the only state-level bill that fully restores all of the 2015 net neutrality protections. That’s why it’s widely viewed as a net neutrality model bill, and that’s why [former] FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who literally wrote the 2015 order, supports this bill.”

Net Neutrality Woes

In April, cable lobbyists from AT&T and its competitors came to California’s Senate meeting to voice their opposition against the bill’s wording and implications. Despite their vocal resistance, the Senate passed the bill, at an 8-3 winning vote.

The bill was in danger of having certain clauses cut out, effectively “watering down” the legislation, but Democrat Senator Scott Wiener fought to keep the bill intact to send a stronger message and to protect Californians more thoroughly.

The bill won’t be law until Governor Jerry Brown signs it. Although he’s been mum about his position on the legislation, there is a high chance that the bill will pass into law without many hiccups.

The Long Battle Ahead

If the bill passes into law, we can assume internet service providers (ISPs) will sue California. The FCC already made it easy for ISPs to do that; it created a rule that bans states from creating their own net neutrality laws.

California is certainly prepared to take on the fight against the FCC and the ISPs. And the citizens of California and the tech companies that call it home like we do are prepared to back the state on this very important and groundbreaking issue.

As staunch net neutrality supporters, Dogtown Media is extremely proud of its home state for standing up for what’s right!

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