California’s Net Neutrality Law Challenged Again

(Image credit: California State Capitol)

California’s net neutrality law should be blocked because federal law pre-empts the state statute, the U.S. Justice Department argued in asking a federal judge to overturn a state law reviving many tenets of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.

The Justice Department said federal statutes pre-empt the net neutrality law passed in California’s capitol.

ACA Connects and other ISP organizations filed similar motions to put a hold on California enforcement of state law SB 822, the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act, which they said conflicts with the 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order, the benchmark rule of the early Ajit Pai FCC.

The government is seeking a preliminary injunction to block California from being able to enforce its law. In 2018, California agreed not to enforce its own state net neutrality law until a final court decision on the FCC repeal.

The Justice Department did not reply to a Multichannel News request about the timing of the Aug. 5 court challenge.

The California attorney general's office said it is reviewing the Justice Department's filing "and look[s] forward to defending California’s state net neutrality protections," according to a Reuters report. Large tech companies and consumer groups have embraced the California law. The court schedule may mean there will be no decision on the Justice Department request until October.

Meanwhile, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan has agreed to hold off net neutrality litigation in that state pending a decision in the California case, according to ACA Connects. The association and other organizations entered a stipulation last week to stay enforcement of the Vermont law pending further discussions between the groups and Vermont officials.

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.