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California Senate defies FCC ruling, passes its own Net Neutrality bill
- The California Senate just voted to pass a bill that would put Net Neutrality laws back for Californians.
- The bill will likely also pass the State Assembly and become law.
- If it becomes law, it will be in direct defiance of the FCC statutes that will begin in June.
Yesterday evening, the California Senate passed a Net Neutrality bill that not only would put the Obama-era rules back in place but would also put an even tighter leash on how ISPs can control citizens’ access to the internet.
The bill passed through the Senate by a vote of 23 – 12, via ARSTechnica. As expected, the 23 ayes came from Democrats and the 12 noes came from Republicans.
To become California law, the bill will now head to the Democrat-controlled State Assembly and finally to Governor Jerry Brown, also a Democrat. As such, it is very likely the bill will become law in California, the third-largest state in the U.S.
Net Neutrality is the notion that the internet should remain free and open, and treated more like a public utility than a strictly commercial enterprise. The Obama-era Net Neutrality laws were voted down by the FCC in December last year and will cease to be a federal law in June.
The FCC board is comprised of people who are not voted to their positions and do not have to take public interest into account with their decisions. The leader of the FCC — Ajit Pai, pictured above — was appointed to the position by President Trump with the specific intent of removing Net Neutrality laws.
If this California state law does get voted in, Net Neutrality proponents are worried that the ISPs will argue that the FCC’s federal statutes supersede those of individual states. However, the FCC just restricted its own powers over broadband internet, which could make the argument moot.
Will individual states be able to right the Net Neutrality ship, defying the FCC?
If that is the case, then each state could enact its own Net Neutrality legislation, and ISPs would have to tailor their products to meet the rules of each individual state.
While the federal rules that the FCC just voted down prohibited ISPs from blocking or throttling certain websites or charging extra for “fast lane” internet, this California bill goes even further: it also places a ban on paid data-cap exemptions. This would prohibit ISPs from capping broadband data flow and then charging to release the cap; in other words, it would force ISPs to only offer unlimited broadband data.
Other states in the U.S. – including New York and Oregon – have similar bills in the works.