ARS Technica reports that California passed a bill that will impose stricter net neutrality laws than previously created by the FCC on a federal level in 2015. Trump’s FCC, led by chairman Ajit Pai, recently reversed the Obama-era internet regulation, saying that they wanted the internet to be reigned by the free market, but Democrats are concerned that repealing net neutrality will allow internet providers like Comcast and AT&T to use their corporate power to take advantage of private citizens.
After the California victory, bill sponsor Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) explained that the new law would preserve a free internet by not allowing ISPs to “pick winners and losers by deciding (based on financial payments or otherwise) which websites or applications will be easy or hard to access, which will have fast or slow access, and which will be blocked entirely.” He shares many Americans’ concerns that without net neutrality, ISPs will block and throttle service and prioritize customers that are able to pay more for internet services.
AT&T pushed hard to lobby against the California bill, claiming that it “goes well beyond” the FCC rules. Their attempts were thwarted by a large grassroots coalition, who Scott Wiener did not fail to acknowledge after the bill passed.
Despite the bill passing, net neutrality supporters are still concerned that it will not uphold in court due to the new federal laws put in place by the FCC. ISPs will argue that states are required to uphold the FCC’s decision, but the FCC’s decision to restrict its own authority over broadband may block judicial intervention.
New York plans to follow a similar path as California when it comes to net neutrality. “When Donald Trump’s FCC took a wrecking ball to the Obama-era net neutrality protections, we said we would step in to make sure that California residents would be protected from having their Internet access manipulated,” said Wiener. “We have a lot more work to get this bill through the Assembly, but this is a major win in our fight to reinstate net neutrality in California.”
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