California sends net neutrality bill to governor's desk

Roman Schwartz
September 3, 2018

"California's net neutrality legislation restores critical consumer protections that will ensure the internet returns to what we have known it to be for years-an open marketplace where companies large and small can compete", says Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel at Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. If signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it would ensure all California broadband customers have equal access to content on the internet.

The legislation is in response to the Republican-led FCC's move in December to repeal numerous existing net neutrality rules, which prohibited internet providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or from selling "fast lanes" so websites and other types of content can gain speedier access to consumers.

The bill seeks to turn California into the leader of a widening state-led backlash against the FCC, which did not respond to a request for comment.

It will now head to Governor Brown, who has until September 30 to veto the legislation or sign it into law.

California lawmakers just passed Senate Bill 905, which could allow bars in nine California cities to serve alcohol until 4 AM instead of 2 AM.

But Low said he needs more time as he tries to craft a national model that could be copied in other states.

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The California law would go beyond the earlier FCC rules, most notably by outlawing certain types of "zero-rating" programs, where companies exempt their own streaming services from data caps that apply to other providers. Supporters of net neutrality rules have been fighting the FCC's ruling on multiple fronts.

Inundated by calls and emails demanding protection from internet service providers that may seek to block or throttle online traffic at will, even legislators flush with telecom contributions relented. It gave California internet users the ability to know what information a company like Facebook or Google was collecting, and how it was being used and shared with third parties.

"Strong and effective net neutrality standards must include protections against zero-rating, which ultimately harm consumers by giving ISPs an unfair advantage against competitor products", he says.

The fight in California grew so intense that some state residents reported receiving robocalls warning that the legislation could lead to an increase in their internet bills.

Internet providers also argue it could lead to higher prices for consumers. In June, the measure appeared to hit a sudden snag when a key Assembly committee voted to strip out its toughest language - provisions that were restored two weeks later amid pressure from activists. "They're still paying attention".

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