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California will not enforce the net neutrality law it passed (for now)

The decision whether to retain or invalidate California's net neutrality law might not come down for at least a year.

Published onOctober 26, 2018

Net neutrality
  • In a federal appeals court, California agreed to not enforce its net neutrality law until the court issues a decision.
  • The decision might not come down for at least a year.
  • The FCC repealed net neutrality last December and officially removed it in June.

Even though California flip-flopped a bit when it came to its net neutrality law, the state eventually passed it with the intention to enforce it. However, California agreed to not enforce its net neutrality law as it fends off challenges from the U.S. Justice Department and trade groups which represent companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.

Reuters reported that a federal appeals court set oral arguments for February 1. California agreed to not enforce its net neutrality law until the court’s decision, which could take upwards of a year or longer. The law would have taken effect January 1, 2019.

In a statement, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai said California’s “substantial concession reflects the strength of the case made by the United States earlier this month. It also demonstrates … there is no urgent problem that these regulations are needed to address.”

At the center of the FCC’s grudge with California are the Obama-era rules which declared the internet must be treated as an open utility. The FCC voted out those rules — these are generally known as net neutrality — in a close 3-2 vote in December 2017. The vote then led to net neutrality being removed on June 11.

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Even before the FCC removed net neutrality from the law, most U.S. states continued to fight back against the repeal. Five states issued executive orders to maintain net neutrality, over 20 state attorneys general filed lawsuits, and over 30 states cooked up state legislation to retain net neutrality.

The FCC has the power to supersede state-created bills and threatened to issue lawsuits if states went against its mandates. However, the FCC’s resources would be spread incredibly thin with so many states choosing to fight back.

Net neutrality proponents argue that few consumers have a choice in the area of an ISP. As a result, the decision comes down to having internet access which is very limited, very expensive, or no internet access at all.

Meanwhile, net neutrality opponents argue the rules enacted by the FCC were a governmental overreach and that the agency should take a light-touch approach to regulation.

NEXT: As Net Neutrality nears its end, Verizon shows some customers data caps