Skip to content

OPLIN 4Cast #614: Will California’s daring net neutrality bill change the landscape?

Posted in 4cast, and net neutrality

[Guest post from OPLIN’s intern, Eric Vescelius]

On December 14th, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality laws introduced by the Obama administration. This was met by a significant amount of resistance at the state level,  with 22 states filing briefs to a US Appeals Court to overturn the ruling. In addition, both Washington and Oregon passed their own state laws protecting net neutrality this year. On September 30th, California passed S.B. 822 into law–essentially reinstating Obama-era net neutrality regulations for state residents. The law states that ISPs cannot block or throttle specific content or charge fees for faster access to content. The bill also addresses a number of loopholes not previously focused on in the original federal legislation.

California’s passage of net neutrality regulations is the most significant to date due to the state hosting many of the world’s biggest tech companies and the sheer size of the state’s population. In response, the Department of Justice has sued California on the grounds that states cannot regulate interstate commerce. In his public statement regarding the bill, DoJ Attorney General  Jeff Sessions stated: “Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”  California has remained resolute in spite of the lawsuit. Xavier Becerra, the state’s Attorney General, has commented that the state “…will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load” (New York Times).

The law is set to go into effect January 1st, 2019.

  • California just passed its net neutrality law. The DOJ is already suing [CNN] “The California law would be the strictest net neutrality protections in the country, and could serve as a blueprint for other states. Under the law, internet service providers will not be allowed to block or slow specific types of content or applications, or charge apps or companies fees for faster access to customers.”
  • California’s ‘gold standard’ net neutrality becomes law [CNET] “California is just one of several states looking to enact its own rules governing an open internet, after the Federal Communications Commission, under Pai, rolled back the Obama-era net neutrality rules in June. States, such as Washington, have pushed through a net neutrality law, while others are considering it. Meanwhile, attorneys general of 22 states and the District of Columbia have already filed a brief to a US Appeals Court to reverse the FCC’s move.”
  • Trump administration sues California over tough net neutrality law [The Verge] “As the most populous US state and home to many of the world’s largest tech companies, California’s net neutrality rules, passed into law Sunday, hold significant sway. The DoJ lawsuit is likely to become a key test of the federal government’s net neutrality legislation, establishing whether states have any right to enact their own rules that go against those imposed at the national level”
  • Justice Department Sues to Stop California Net Neutrality Law [New York Times] “States do not regulate interstate commerce — the federal government does,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement. “Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”

From the Ohio Web Library:

  • Internet Neutrality: An Overview (Issitt, M. (2018). Internet Neutrality: An Overview. Points of View: Internet Neutrality, 1. Retrieved from Points of View Reference Center)