Update: California Senate Approves Net Neutrality Rules

The California State Senate Friday (Aug. 31) passed a tough new network neutrality law that essentially restores the FCC's rules, then one-ups them by applying them to interconnections as well as consumer internet access.

The California Assembly had approved the bill Aug. 30. The new law applies no-blocking, throttling or paid prioritization rules for broadband service in the state, and applies those to interconnections as well.

SB 822, which must still be signed by Governor Jerry Brown, essentially restores for California the federal net neutrality rules the FCC rolled back last fall, though even the old FCC rules in the 2015 Open Internet Order did not apply the rules to interconnections.

Related: California Committee Passes Tough Net Neutrality Bill

Cable and telco ISPs had opposed the bill, and point out that the FCC's reg rollback asserts that states are preempted from restoring the rules.

“Broadband providers strongly support net neutrality, but SB 822 undercuts California’s long history as a vibrant catalyst for innovation and technology," said Jonathan Spalter, presidnt of USTelecom. "The internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches. Governor Brown should use his veto pen on this legislation, and Congress should step in to legislate and provide consumer protections that will resolve this issue once and for all.”

““Net neutrality is the free speech fight of our generation, and we’re winning,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, in a statement. “If there’s one thing this victory in California shows it’s that Internet users are still royally pissed off about the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. They’re still paying attention. And they’re not going to let their elected officials get away with selling out their constituents by siding with big telecom companies.”

.“This bill is the strongest legislation restoring and defending net neutrality protections in any state -- and prevents internet service providers from blocking, throttling, slowing content, or engaging in anti-consumer practices like zero-rating,” said Carli Stevenson of Demand Progress, another net neutrality group pushing for state legislation restoring net neutrality rules. “This legislation is the gold standard for net neutrality protections, and passed thanks to the enormous grassroots push for the bill. This should send a message to other states as well as to members of Congress -- Americans are serious about the importance of net neutrality, and are ready and willing to fight for their right to create, communicate, and engage online without giant ISPs serving as gatekeepers.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.