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Court Wants Oral Argument on Calif. Net Neutrality Law Challenge

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The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California is requiring oral arguments in efforts by the government and ISPS to block California from enforcing its net neutrality law.

The court has set a hearing date of Jan. 26.

Related: Net Neutrality Focus Shifts to States, Hill

The state enacted the law after the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) order repealed net neutrality rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. The RIF order included a preemption of state regs that conflicted with that decision. California passed its own tough net neutrality rules anyway to fill what it saw as a regulatory void. 

The California law was passed in 2018, but its implementation has been stayed pending the the court decision on the the RIF order--the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the majority of the decision --as well as various motions in the California district court.

In separate filings to the California court, four communications trade associations and the U.S. Department of Justice filed for a preliminary injunction to block California’s net neutrality law because of the FCC preemption of state laws. Such state measures “impose burdensome requirements on ISPs” and impair broadband access “by requiring each ISP to comply with a patchwork of separate and potentially conflicting requirements” in various areas, said the four groups in their joint filing: NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, ACA Connects – the American Cable Association, and CTIA – The Wireless Association and USTelecom – The Broadband Association.

The suits come a month after Mozilla and other mostly-California-based tech firms decided not to pursue their appeal of the FCC net neutrality order, and the appeals court's decision to uphold most of it, to the Supreme court.