Net neutrality as we’ve known it is over. The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal rules over how Internet service providers, or ISPs, grant online access. And the change could have significant consequences for your Internet.
LOS ANGELES — The Trump administration filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Sunday night in an effort to strike down its new net neutrality law, signed only hours earlier by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
Among 34 bills signed Sunday, Brown approved the nation’s toughest net neutrality protections, setting up a legal fight by bringing back Obama-era internet regulations the federal government repealed about nine months ago.
The Justice Department almost immediately filed its lawsuit, arguing Senate Bill 822 interferes with the federal government’s deregulatory approach to the internet, according to a statement.
“The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
Three states — Oregon, Washington and Vermont — passed their own net neutrality bills ahead of California, though none of them were as strict. The California law prevents broadband providers from slowing down or blocking websites, as well as charging higher fees for faster speeds. It also limits some zero-rated data plans.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, called Sunday a win for an open society.
“While the Trump Administration does everything in its power to undermine our democracy, we in California will continue to do what’s right for our residents,” Wiener said in a statement. “Net neutrality, at its core, is the basic notion that we each get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to having that decision made for us by internet service providers. It’s also about ensuring a level playing field for ideas and for businesses trying to compete.”
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai voiced support for the federal lawsuit in a statement. Identifying the internet as a interstate information service, he said only the federal government can set policy for it.
In January, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra pushed back against the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, along with 21 other states. The California legislature moved the bill to the governor’s desk on Sept. 11.
“It’s a beacon of hope for Internet users everywhere who are fighting for the basic right to express themselves and access information without cable and phone companies controlling what they can see and do online,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, said in a statement.
Other organizations opposed California taking net neutrality into its own hands, including Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of the U.S. Telecom Association.
“Rather than 50 states stepping in with their own conflicting open internet solutions, we need Congress to step up with a national framework for the whole internet ecosystem and resolve this issue once and for all,” Spalter said in a statement.
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