Internet providers in California would have to operate under net neutrality rules stricter than the federal rules repealed last year, under a measure passed this week by the California Senate.
The bill, which passed the Senate 23-12 on Thursday, prohibits companies from blocking legal internet traffic, slowing down internet traffic or otherwise favoring certain web pages, streams or downloads over others. The measure still needs approval from the state Assembly, and would also have to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The federal government put such requirements in place in 2015, but the Federal Communications Commission repealed them late last year.
The California measure goes further than the now repealed federal rules by banning paid data-cap exemptions, or “zero-rating.” That’s a practice some ISPs have used in which they exempt certain types of data usage from normal data limits.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener, passed along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans against.
The Senate just passed my bill protecting #NetNeutrality in California, #SB822. I’m deeply appreciative for my colleagues’ support of this effort to protect the internet. If our federal govt won’t protect a free & open internet, the States must step in. Now on to the Assembly …
— Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) May 30, 2018
A similar measure is pending in New York state.
“This victory in California shows that net neutrality is here to stay,” digital rights advocacy group Fight For the Future said in a press release. “It’s time for our Federal lawmakers in the House of Representatives to follow the lead of the US Senate and California State Senate, listen to their constituents, tech experts, and small business owners, and vote for the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore open Internet protections for all.”
Several big telecomm companies opposed the bill in California – but some say they’d like to see “open internet” rules, but want a measure that is applicable across state lines.
AT&T Executive Vice President of Federal Relations Tim McKone said AT&T would like a national law to replace the former FCC rules.
“While Congress discusses a Congressional Review Act resolution, we reiterate our call for actual bipartisan legislation that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protections for all internet users,” McKone said. “Legislation would not only ensure the rights of consumers are protected and enforced but it would also provide consistent rules of the road for companies across all websites, content, devices and applications.”