Industry Groups Drop Challenge To California Net Neutrality Law

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Legal challenge from American ISP’s to California’s strict net neutrality law to protect open Internet, has been dropped after courtroom defeats

The industry groups trying to overturn California net neutrality law to protect open Internet have abandoned their legal challenge.

Reuters reported that late Wednesday the US broadband industry, which included the American Cable Association, the wireless trade group CTIA, the cable trade group NCTA, Verizon Communications, Comcast, AT&T and others, ended their legal challenge which began back in 2018.

The move is hardly surprising, considering last month the US Court of Appeals ruled it would not reconsider its decision to uphold California’s net neutrality law.

Legal challenges

In February 2021 California won a legal victory when the US District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a preliminary injunction from industry groups seeking to block California’s net neutrality legislation, which bans ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic or offering paid fast lanes.

Then in January 2022, the appeals court ruled 3-0 that a controversial 2017 decision by the Trump-controlled FCC to reverse federal internet protections could not bar state action, thereby rejecting the industry challenge.

And after last months ruling by the US Court of Appeals, the only option left to the challengers was to take their case to the US Supreme Court.

They argue the net neutrality rules are outdated and discourages investment.

“Following multiple defeats in court, internet service providers have abandoned this effort to block enforcement of California’s net neutrality law,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta was quoted by Reuters as saying on Wednesday.

The industry associations that had challenged the law reportedly said in a joint statement that “broadband providers are united in support of an open internet.”

They committed themselves to working with Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to develop a federal approach for resolving the issues.

Obama legislation

The FCC under former President Barack Obama (and then vice president Joe Biden) had adopted net neutrality rules in 2015.

Those laws were designed to stop service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content.

But Obama’s net neutrality laws were overturned in 2017 by the FCC under President Donald Trump, a Republican.

California’s legislature responded by adopting a state law requiring net neutrality in August 2018.

Currently the FCC remains divided 2-2 over the matter, after Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai stepped down from his post on 20 January 2021,

Democrats so far have been unable to launch proceedings to reinstate net neutrality.

In March, the Senate Commerce Committee voted 14-14 to advance the nomination of Gigi Sohn to serve on the FCC, which would likely break the deadlock.

However the full US Senate must hold a “discharge” vote on the nominations in addition to a final confirmation vote.