California On Collision Course With FCC Over Net Neutrality

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The most populous US state heads for net neutrality clash with American communication regulator

The US State of California looks set to clash with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), after the US regulator controversially voted to “roll back” Obama-era net neutrality rules.

Californian lawmakers have now reportedly sent to the governor’s desk for final approval strict “net neutrality” laws, in direct opposition to the FCC ruling.

It comes after 22 US states last month banded together to ask the US Appeals Court to stop attempts by the FCC to halt US states implementing their own net neutrality rules.

internet net neutrality (C) Peshkova - Shutterstock

Neutrality clash

It is fair to say that the FCC repeal of the net neutrality rules in June, had been fiercely opposed by many including the US Senate, as well as tech firms, and indeed many individual states in America.

California, which the most populous state in the United States with a population of 39 million people, is one of a number of states challenging the FCC.

According to Reuters, the Democrat-controlled California Senate has voted 27-12 to pass a “strict” net neutrality bill, known as SB 822.

The measure had already been approved by their colleagues in the state Assembly one day earlier.

This means it is now up to Governor Jerry Brown, who is also a Democrat, to decide whether to sign the bill into law within the next 30 days.

“We did it, we passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation,” Democrat Scott Wiener, the bill’s author, was quoted by Reuters as saying in a written statement.

“The internet is at the heart of 21st century life – our economy, our public safety and health systems, and our democracy,” he said.

State opposition

The FCC is facing a growing rebellion over its repeal of net neutrality, after 22 US states in January sued to stop the new rules from taking effect.

Last month they asked the US court of Appeal to reject the Trump administration’s efforts (the FCC is controlled by its Republican chairman Ajit Pai – appointed by President Trump) to pre-empt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet.

And at least three US states, including Washington State, have already signed a law in direct opposition to the FCC in order to stop Internet Service Providers from blocking websites or offering fast lane Internet access to companies willing to pay.

Governors in six states have also signed executive orders on net neutrality.

FCC Chairman Pai has repeatedly said he believes the rules will be upheld.

But such was the fallout from the FCC decision, that Pai in January this year unexpectedly cancelled an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas because of death threats.

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