Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Sacramento, CA, United States (4E) – California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed toughest net neutrality law in the United States requiring internet providers to always maintain a level playing field online, triggering an immediate lawsuit by the Trump administration.
Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 822 (S.B. 822) into law on Sept. 30. The new law seeks to re-establish net neutrality as the core principle by which internet service providers treat all data carried over their networks within California.
The new law’s full title is the “California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018.”
S.B. 822 extends to the state’s 40 million residents a host of legal protections aimed at limiting the power of Big Telecom, or the few companies that sell internet subscriptions to nearly 100 million U.S. broadband customers.
“I’m very grateful to the governor for really taking a hard look at this and understanding that if the federal government refuses to protect net neutrality, that California has a responsibility to step in,” said Sen. Scott Wiener, S.B. 822’s principal author
While other laws prohibit companies such as AT&T and Verizon from throttling or blocking internet traffic on a whim, S.B. 822 also cancels a number loopholes not addressed in the underlying rules of the 2015 Open Internet Order repealed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December 2017.
“SB 822 sets a standard that other states can and should follow,” said Barbara van Schewick, director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. “Existing state-level laws and executive orders have just copied the text of the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules, leaving out critical protections. By contrast, SB822 includes the important protections and clarifications in the full Order which explained the rules and closed known loopholes.”
The law takes aim at “zero rating” schemes where ISPs incentivize the exclusive use of their own apps and services over those offered by competitors by not subjecting them to ISP-imposed data limits.
The U.S. Department of Justice wants to stop the new California law, arguing it creates burdensome, anti-consumer requirements that go against the federal government’s approach of deregulating the internet.
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