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California Senate Passes Net Neutrality Regs

The California State Senate has passed a bill that would restore the net neutrality rules excised Dec. 14 by the FCC's Republican majority, and add a few more for good measure. The vote was 22 to 12 (seven chose not to cast votes).

The bill was sent to the California Assembly Jan. 30, where Democrats also hold the majority. If it passes, it will definitely tee up a legal battle with the FCC, whose Restoring Internet Order asserts the right to preempt state attempts to restore the rules.

The bill was introduced in February 2017 in anticipation of the Republican FCC's rollback of the rules.

The California law would restore the FCC regs and add a few of its own. It would be illegal in the state to do any of the following:

"a) Blocking lawful content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices, subject to reasonable network management practices.

(b) Impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service, or use of a nonharmful device, subject to reasonable network management practices.

(c) Engaging in paid prioritization, or providing preferential treatment of some Internet traffic to any Internet customer.

(d) Unreasonably interfering with, or unreasonably disadvantaging, either a customer’s ability to select, access, and use broadband Internet access service or lawful Internet content, applications, services, or devices of the customer’s choice, or an edge provider’s ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to a customer.

(e) Engaging in deceptive or misleading marketing practices that misrepresent the treatment of Internet traffic or content to its customers.

(f) Advertising, offering for sale, or selling broadband Internet access service without prominently disclosing with specificity all aspects of the service advertised, offered for sale, or sold."

The bill also incorporates a provision that prevents state agency's from contracting with an ISP unless they pledged not to do any of the following, though that seems overkill since that conduct would be illegal in the state anyway.

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.