US government sues California over net neutrality

Update – October 1: The U.S. justice department sued California, after the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed legislation to restore net neutrality. Net neutrality (explainer here) prevented the blocking or slowing of U.S. internet traffic and was repealed by the The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December 2017 and came into effect in June 2018. 

The justice department said it would take California to court because the federal government has the exclusive power to regulate net neutrality and described the move as “illegal” (The Guardian).

California attorney general Xavier Becerra said the federal government was ignoring “millions of Americans who voiced strong support for net neutrality rules”, and that citizens of California “will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load” (Politico).


California Senate voted on Wednesday, May 31 to approve a bill that would reinstate net neutrality regulations state wide. (Verge)

S.B. 822, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was passed 23-13 and will now head to State Assembly.

The bill will reinstate Obama era rules that prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPS) from throttling data exchange from certain websites and web services. Essentially, forcing them to treat all data passed through the internet the same.

An Electronic Frontier Foundation statement considers net neutrality deregulation to be a “threat to the free market” and net neutrality to be “a principle that must be upheld to protect the future of our open Internet.”

In December, the Federal Communications Commission repealed Federal net neutrality rules in a 3-2 decision. Since then, states have begun using a variety of tactics to provide net neutrality on a state level – including through executive orders (NJBiz) and through legislation (CT Post).

This decision if passed, will add California to the increasingly long list of state level net neutrality actions.

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